Just Landed judges the best language learning software
Want to Swot up on your Swahili? Polish your Polish? Understand Urdu?
Well, have we got the language tool for you! Whether it be learning a language to be used as a lingua franca; to improve employability or to facilitate a move to a new country, in this ever expanding, yet simultaneously shrinking, globalised world in which we live, the need for learning languages has never seemed greater.
Fortunately, thanks to the aid of modern technology, it has also never been easier. We have our tablets, phones and computers constantly at our disposal, so why not, instead of whiling away those precious hours playing Candy Crush, download an app or program which will improve your linguistic abilities, all the while expanding your horizons too? And the best thing about a lot of the software available? It’s free.
As with many things in life, the language software available isn’t a one-size fits all model (if only it were that simple!) We have been reminded time and time again that wee all have “different learning styles” and what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Sometimes it’s just a case of trial and error to see which one works best for you and your learning style. Perhaps you learn visually, verbally or analytically, regardless of whichever category you fit into, you can rest assured that there is a program out there for you! If you’re planning a move abroad and need to learn the lingo, here’s some of the programs we’ve tried and tested in order to help make your move just that little bit more manageable! (You can thank us later).
One of the most popular language learning tools currently available is Duolingo,
it is difficult to believe that something of this quality is freely available. It comes as both an online program and as an app, and both work equally as well. The app sends you reminders in order to coax you into making learning a daily habit – something many of us need if we want to be truly committed to learning; y’know, “practice makes perfect” and all that. The program format also pushes you to create a ‘daily goal’ to encourage self motivation. There is a step-by-step drill structure which covers the basics of grammar, vocabulary and phrases and then enables you to use what you have learned through translation. There seems to be a real emphasis on progress within this program which can compel you to study further and it also encompasses several different learning styles, including oral and visual. Also, if a little competition spurs you on, then you can connect with your friends in order to measure their progress and compete with them. There are not as many languages available on Duolingo as on other language learning programmes, yet its design, functionality and focus make it, in our humble opinion, the best on the market.
Busuu begins at a basic level primarily with flash cards designed for you to commit to memory. If this is your kind of thing then you’ll sail through to the upper levels of learning which is crowd sourced, so you’re not in it alone. The busuu community will correct your work, and this is the way you are encouraged to learn. There is a version which you can pay for, which will enable you to learn more than one language at a time and give you more in depth lessons, however if it is simply one language you wish to focus on, and can find users who are willing (and able) to help you learn the language of your choice. In this sense, it can be a really useful learning tool, as there is an emphasis on interaction with others which can really aid progression.
Transparent Language is a comprehensive language learning package with a plethora of languages to choose from, such as Finnish and Spanish to the slightly more alternative like Tagalog and Tuvan. Transparent Languages itself is a little pricey, yet it has a free version called Byki, the idea being that Before You Know It, you’ll be jabbering away in Japanese, babbling in Buriat, gabbing in Greek or chatting away in Chinese. As well as the sheer amount of languages available on Byki, unlike Duolingo and Busuu, it is also a downloadable program which means that you can study while offline, which is beneficial for those abroad who may not always have a reliable internet connection.
The BBC isn’t generally recognised as a language learning program, possibly due to the fact that the website doesn’t seem to promote it very well. Although it is definitely worth looking into if you are planning on learning one of the more common languages for English speakers. There are level tests so that you know which level you should start at (something Duolingo should take note of) which means that you don’t need to start as a beginner when you are, in fact at an Upper Intermediate level. There are resources you can use online or download as well as video lessons which is a refreshing way to learn.. Depending on the language you are learning, there are also links to radio stations and television channels in the language you wish to learn. This is a good habit to get into when learning a new language as it is less prescriptive and suits independent, oral learners (you’re basically learning without realising it, which is always a bonus!)
There are other programs which you can find that are language specific and catered entirely for the learning of one language. If you are planning a move to Latin America or Spain, Conjuverb is an excellent app for practising those tricky verb conjugations, with a flashcard function to test yourself (I have already downloaded it!)
Or if you are thinking of learning German, DW’s Language Course is so wide-ranging and accessible, it is difficult to find fault within it.
And the “Best Language Learning Tool Award” goes to…Duolingo!
Our reasons for learning a language and the way in which we learn can differ drastically, what does connect everyone when it comes to learning a new language is motivation, and a desire to learn. These are two factors which are key to our learning experience, and can neither be bought nor downloaded (pardon the cheese). Why not join the Just Landed community where you you will find tons of others in the same boat as yourself. Let yourself be welcomed into a friendly hub of people with whom you can share your learning tips and tricks with.
We also have the “language section” in our country guides, which list tips, language school and course services, directories and intercambio opportunities. Here are a couple to get you started: Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, The Netherlands.
So what are you waiting for, make 2015 the year you finally tick off that ‘language learned’ box!