General Resources

Here you will find links to lessons, videos, podcasts, dictionaries, tools, and more, for learning various languages. Every single item will have a mini-review or comment attached. While most are aimed at English speakers, these are intended to be multilingual lists, so many are in different languages and will be labeled as such.

There are many sites out there with lists of languages resources. Lists. No comments or reviews. Thus, it is up to you to randomly pick and try each one, but things like podcasts or video lessons would require large time investments.

I’m here to change that. If it is in this list, it’s because I’ve checked it out. Whether I support it wholeheartedly or simply thought to keep it around “just in case,” all my listed resources will have such comments.

PLEASE REPORT BROKEN LINKS! And if you have others to recommend, or want to add your two cents to any of these, do contact me! Maybe I will include your thoughts.

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Top Recommended Sites

Note: This section contains only a quick overview of the items listed, rather than a formal review or description. Basically, it’s a quick write-up to tell you something about them, but I plan on working them out better in the future.

Omniglot.com – A great website to check out when seeking to start out a new language. I mainly use it for its Useful Phrases, which provides a standard set of useful phrases for all languages on the site – entries I’ve seen contain audio which is even downloadable at the bottom of the page. It’s also a good resource for basic information on the language, its writing system, and more. There are also lists of other websites and resources to check out – including this one!

Fluent in 3 Months – Not one of those “learn quick” schemes, just Benny Lewis’s own personal challenge. About the site? Just go. Simple. This guy has a lot of good advice for language learning. Something stopping you from learning? From practicing? Running into some problems? Here you go. That’s all. He’s all about unconventional means and getting over your personal inhibitions – which are usually what are truly holding you back – yes, you’re holding back you!

Glossika.com – This entry below is now out of date because for some unknown reason, the YouTube channel was shut down with no known explanation or apparent reason; I leave it here while I get around to updating and archiving the old info. The info about the concept behind Glossika, the man behind it, and the Facebook page, is still accurate, but the Glossika website and new YouTube channel are now centered on the packaging of the described mass-sentence system into self-learning audio & text products for purchase. Despite my focus on free resources, the products are a welcome development and I am trying them out for a later review. They seem promising so far. Again, the following information is out of date and left in for historical purposes.

Glossika.com – Focuses on a “mass sentence method,” applicable to any language though main area of focus is in teaching English to Chinese speakers and Chinese to English speakers.” I’ve been following him carefully since he’s lived in Taiwan for several years, is fluent in Mandarin, and knows various other languages to varying degrees, including aboriginal languages of Taiwan. His extensive work in language training and Chinese languages makes me quite excited to see what he does next. I almost have a level of respect and trust that makes me hope I would support his new products – even though I’m urge people to look for free ways to learn. Simply put, his sentence method makes a lot of sense to me (although I don’t actually have the experience and can’t make any claims) and has many similarities to my own theories, methods, and philosophy on language learning, that it’s a method I would definitely jump on if I were to intensively study Mandarin to get to an advanced level. Bear with him; the website was relatively recently opened (actually reopened), so the English version of the site is not complete yet, but you can go ahead and register.

  • YouTube: Mandarin lessons, and varying numbers of videos for various other languages.
  • YouTube: Many videos also explain his methods and gives various kinds of study advice. He of course mentions the sentence method, since he seems to use that with his students. I believe the most complete explanation is here.
  • Facebook page: Vocabulary, sentences, phrases, video updates, discussions, and challenges. The general page with content for any language is here. He also uses Facebook notes as vocabulary lists for many of the YouTube videos.
  • YouTube: With new release of study materials, there are new YouTube videos, including bilingual discussions for certain news topics.

lang-8.com – Writing practice: write journal entries in the language you’re learning and get them corrected by other users on the site. Everyone’s profile has an “About” page where you can write about yourself, your native language, and at most 2 languages your are studying. That limit is annoying if you trying to find people or are writing in more, but it is easily changed in settings. While Lang-8 is strictly for writing practice, it is strong in that regard, giving you simple but nice and focused tools for correcting entries, with a great layout for the person corrected to review and compare.

italki.com – Speaking practice: find language exchange partners for Skype! You can find random people who just want to practice conversing for free, tutors who ask for a little payment for their time, and professional teachers whose credentials are checked and thus expect higher payment for their lessons. Profiles have a short and long “about me” section, as well as a short “who I’m looking for” kind of section. You can list up to 8 languages, I believe, and then you can pick which to be shown as languages you are learning. Its focus on meeting people and making language exchange partners means it also includes the ability to show your Facebook, Skype, and other contact information if desired. I would personally advise against anything too personal like Facebook – even my Skype account is hidden, though I’ve set it in so that italki will list me as someone open to using Skype. italki also allows writing journal entries for correction, making it a more versatile site than Lang-8, but the feature is much more plain and thus more prone to lower-quality corrections. Use Lang-8 if your focus is writing.

Tip for italki, lang-8, and any other similar sites: No one has any obligation to correct, and although there may be incentives, it’s mainly up to random people’s whims and moods. Your entries are shown to users who speak that language and it is completely up to them to correct or not, in the same way you will see random posts practicing your language and it’s up to you whether you respond to them or not. Thus, I would say the number of corrections you will get is unforeseeable as it depends on many things. I would recommend trying to give a little first and/or use the search to find people to be friends with so you can correct each other’s writing.

WordReference.com – My favorite dictionary for the Romance languages, particularly Spanish and French since there are monolingual dictionaries for them and translation dictionaries between them (and not just with English). For verbs, there’s always a button to see the conjugation table. It also includes potentially related forum posts that can indeed be quite helpful. It is available for other European languages and some other languages of the world as well, including Arabic and East Asian languages, but I haven’t tried it out much with those.

Top Recommended Apps and more

HelloTalk (iOS, Andriod beta) – Find a language exchange partner practically instantly on your phone! A mobile texting and voice messaging app just like Whatsapp, Kakaotalk, WeChat, etc., but with a search function to find people by language, level of fluency, and country. Support written as well as audio introduction on each person’s profile, though most people I’ve seen don’t write a lot and tend to be quite generic. Two neat features is the ability to set a do not disturb time (so that you won’t be woken up by notifications of messages) an integrated language exchange option that serves as a timer for you and your friend to alternate the language you’re chatting in. There is also integrated translation and maybe a few other things – I personally don’t need most of these features. I have been extremely successful in finding people in China and Taiwan (found a Shanghainese partner and now good friend in my first week of use), a recent influx of Japanese finally got me some success in that language, and I didn’t even try to contact anyone for Arabic yet…..most have no info or very weird “silent” audio messages with what sounds like a TV or people conversing in the background. In other words, it varies a lot depending on the language you’re aiming for, but in itself is a great app! I’ve had few problems, but it’s new, probably small company, so beware it may have bugs; be patient.

QQ Talk – I can’t explain this briefly, so I’ll say QQ is like Chinese MSN / Yahoo; it could be your instant messaging application at home, your email provider, a source of news, or a place for dating and personals. On the lines of a messenger though, QQ messenger is the top instant messaging program in China, and QQ Talk (which may be part of the same “QQ International” package for non-Chinese-language users) has a lot of different chat rooms that support both voice and text, a few extra features like those of videoconferencing software. So while I don’t know any more specifics, I know you can find study groups on there, as one of my friends invited me to check one out. I need to do more research, but I assume this is more for English <-> Chinese learning.

Evernote (or other note app) – No matter what, you probably want a place you can note down anything you need or want for your language learning that’s accessible anywhere, from any device. Evernote is on the web or on your mobile device as an app, so I’d say it’s a good idea. You can have folders, tags, and categories, and have formatted text, pictures, and more.

Others, to be categorized later

FastFingers – Improve Your Typing Speed – A website to practice or test your typing, of course, but you can filter the text options by language.

Glosbe.com – the multilingual online dictionary – Translate between at least 128 languages?? It will take time for me to take a good look at this, but it’s promising IF the content is truly there. Kind of like how Dictionary.com gives you results from a few different English dictionaries, Glosbe will pull from various dictionaries for the different languages. However, I took a random language I didn’t recognize and could translate “hello” from either Japanese or English, so I don’t know if there’s anyway to tell if a dictionary listed truly exists or not.

20 Polyglots to Follow – A quick run down of 20 polyglots active on the internet (i.e., on a blog or on YouTube). Just a single paragraph on each, plus a link to their YouTube channel and / or blog.

EastAsiaStudent: Make Mnemonics – How to make your own good mnemonics.

How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately; $11 Paperback book – A short book recommending how to focus your study and practice to improve your proficiency. Most of the advice can probably be found at the websites, blogs, and videos of various polyglots (including my own content), but this book may be collecting the main ones quite nicely. I learned about this book from this video review here.

The Weirdest Language – Analyzed in pretty normal English, and – surprisingly – in apparently a pretty objective way.

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