I have found that when learning a second language, the best way to drill insane amounts of vocabulary and language usage is to repeatedly expose yourself to the material in reading, writing, speaking, and listening formats. And it’s even better if you get feedback about your accuracy so you can improve.
There have always been self-study programs on the market for second language learning, including books and recorded material. With modern web and app design, excellent programs with interactivity to make learning happen naturally are now so ubiquitous, you can now get a pretty decent language education for free.
Granted, these programs do not replace the inherent value of immersing yourself in a second language or culture, nor do they provide personalized pronunciation feedback from a certified speech instructor. If that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, then try one of our programs.
In just a few minutes a day, over time, you can significantly improve your language skills. Check out the programs below to easily improve your skills.
Sporcle offers a number of user-created quizzes that have users racing against the clock. Try this quiz where users are challenged to come up with the 100 most common words in English in a race against the clock. Can you name them all in time? You might be surprised by some of the words on the list.
Memrise has multiple lessons available, ranging from a single list of items, such as idioms or vocabulary, to entire courses with multiple units. What’s more, they have a helpful app for iOS so you can learn on-the-go.
And then there is Duolingo. Notably bankrolled by cook kids like Ashton Kutcher, Duolingo is now the go-to resource for language learning for users of all ages. Engineered to maximize learning while minimizing frustration (so users don’t lose their motivation and momentum), and with a well-designed app, users can challenge themselves to maintain week-long streaks of practice with the number of days practiced straight featured on the screen during every practice session. I know people in their sixties who have used Duolingo to go from knowing just a few words of a language to being able to speak fluently with native speakers.
Finally, there’s Rosetta Stone. I’ve never used the version for purchase of the yellow packaged language learning program you see in airport bookstores, but I did use a trial to learn enough Turkish to successfully navigate the markets and taxi rides in Istanbul. The difference between RS and Duolingo is price – RS is a product that you pay for. What you get, according to Rosetta Stone, is patented voice recognition software. Whether that is as good as an in-person session with a speech instructor, I don’t know.
Do you have experience with a language learning program, either online or an app? Share your experience in the comments section.