With many students increasingly seeing the value of languages as a means to excel in the modern world, we thought it would be good to share some of our favorite resources that will have you speaking and writing in no time. Languages are not just a means of communication but a window into other worlds. In no particular order, here are those that will allow you to get the edge before starting back at school in the fall …
- Anki — This is a flashcard app that uses intelligent spaced-repetition software to prompt you to remember words just when you are on the verge of forgetting them. This is a highly effective method that saves you from relearning words you already know. With a strong online community where you can download shared vocabulary or grammar decks, and an accessible interface which can be used for creating flashcards for not just languages but any topic you may need to revise, Anki is a powerful tool for learning.
- Duolingo — This app-based language learning system is one of the most popular across the world, and for good reason. In fact, there are more US language learners on Duolingo than there are in the school system. The app moves naturally from the basics through more complicated topics, building upon what has been previously learned, all presented in a fun and interactive format. Over 20 languages now supported make Duolingo a valuable resource for all budding learners to improve their communication.
- Wordreference — A dictionary that goes beyond simple word-for-word glosses, Wordreference gives context sentences for each word looked up, as well as detailing multiple meanings, and offering common two- or three- word phrases in which it occurs. One key advantage of this dictionary is the forum resources, where words will be indexed with discussion about nuances in meaning. Valuable for those who aim for natural reading and writing skills.
- Forvo — This is a great resource for pronunciation practice, when you are unsure how to pronounce those difficult words. Search for the word you need, and you will be presented with a repository of audio recordings by native speakers, which allow you to listen and replicate the pronunciation with accuracy and ease.
- Live Lingua — This is the Internet’s largest collection of free language learning resources out there, and contains a wealth of valuable tools for improving the full range of productive and receptive skills, from reading and writing to listening. Here you will find e-books, audio recordings, and video materials, to make language learning fun and interactive, and allow you to learn from authentic native materials.
- italki — A way of connecting you with other language learners and native speakers via video call, this is a crucial resource for practicing your spoken language, one of the most important skills. You can search for language exchange partners, where you can share your mutual native knowledge and fluency to help each other improve.
Of course, language learning cannot be done alone. You must actively practice communicating in your languages to gain fluency, speaking and listening with a proficient speaker. Many competent private tutors can offer exactly this, providing you personal support to attain your language goals.
About the Author: Stephen attended the University of Oxford, where he received his B.A. in Philosophy & French, followed by his MSt in Ancient Philosophy. For the past five years, Stephen has taught and mentored students from middle school through college in positions all over the world, from the UK to South Korea. He focuses on language and humanities instruction, coupled with intensive writing skills and college application coaching. His language studies saw him teach English for a year in southern France, as well as holding a technical translation position in Spanish in Barcelona. He has received formal training in mental health support, and has substantial experience working with students with anxiety and depression. Stephen is a warm and dynamic individual, who focuses on creating an open and engaging learning environment. He is currently based in the UK, where he enjoys reading, taking long walks, and playing the guitar and piano.