Let’s learn a new language!

Your projects are finished, and your papers are turned in.

Finals are almost over. So…what are you going to do until August?

Instead of sitting in your room, pondering why there’s another Jurassic Park sequel coming out this summer, why not start learning another language?

The benefits to learning a second language are numerous – and don’t just apply to those who picked up a second (or third language) as a child.

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of language learning applications available online. While we wish we could review them all, we can only do so much. Below, you’ll find reviews and summaries for four language learning applications that we think are worth a look. Three of the recommended applications (Mango, Memrise, and Duolingo) are free (or free to FIT students, staff, and faculty). The fourth, Babbel, is a subscription based service.

The reviews

As a member of the Florida Tech community, you automatically have access to Mango Languages, an online language learning system that offers 65 languages, including Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic (Egyptian, Iraqi, Levantine, and MSA), Farsi, French, and Hindi. If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, Mango also offers courses in Ancient Greek, Latin, Shakespearean English, and Pirate (yes, really).

To get started, simply create an account, pick your language, and go! If you’re already multilingual, or know a few phrases, you can take the placement test to see where you rank in the lessons. For mobile users, Mango offers apps for both Android and iOS.

Mango works by breaking sentences down into smaller fragments, and then building them back up, teaching you structure and vocabulary. Grammar is embedded throughout the lessons, and integrated seamlessly into the content.

Duolingo is a free language learning system that uses gamification to encourage learning. Users earn points for correct answers and progress through levels in sequence.  Each level introduces a new grammatical concept, so make sure you take time to read the lesson before beginning the exercise. As you gain confidence and skill, you can test your language prowess by translating articles and media with other members of the Duolingo community.

Apps are available for Windows, Android, and iOS. Duolingo offers courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, and Turkish. Duolingo is always improving, so if you tried it out in the past and didn’t find it to your taste, give it another shot. You may be impressed by the improvements.

Memrise is another free service, offering a flashcard-type experience. “Plant” and “water” your mems to learn new concepts and words and to reinforce knowledge. Over 200 language courses are available (including constructed languages like Klingon, Morse code, Dovahzul, and Esperanto). Like Duolingo, Memrise relies heavily on community involvement and user repetition. If flash-card type learning isn’t your thing, Memrise and Duolingo may not be for you.

Babbel is a subscription based language learning service that offers several language courses, with a heavier focus on grammar than other offerings listed here. Unlike Memrise and Duolingo, Babbel offers more traditional “lessons” on grammar and vocabulary. If you prefer structured learning, this may be the service for you.

Babbel offers courses in Spanish, English, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Dutch, Polish, Indonesian, Norwegian, Danish, and Russian. Community forums are available for members to converse with native speakers and other learners. Content is regularly added, and some languages have B1/B2 content available.

  Cost Voice Recognition? Natural Speaking Audio? Grammar? Apps
Mango Free to FIT students, staff, and faculty Yes Yes Embedded. Android and iOS
Babbel Subscription based Yes Yes Throughout course, with optional grammar courses available Android and iOS
Duolingo Free Yes No, but the audio is improving. Grammatical concepts are introduced at the beginning of each level. Windows, Android, and iOS
Memrise Free No Some Some courses are grammar-focused Android and iOS


Additional Resources:
How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators
Language learning subreddit
Psst- how do you pronounce that name? 4 useful websites to help you pronounce names correctly

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