3 Useful (and Free) Language Learning Platforms

posted in: Language Apps & Resources | 0

[Image: Vector created by Gading Effendi on Freepik.com]

After my daily exercise and devotion, I get right down to language learning before breakfast. My morning language routine consists of the following 3 language learning platforms that have been most useful.

All are available on the web, but they also have mobile versions for Android and iOS.

The best part? They are all free.

1. Duolingo

Duolingo was the very first language app that I discovered. Over the years, it has changed, and the way I have use it has also changed. It has become something of a constant for me.

I like Duolingo because of the large number of language pairs available. The number of languages you can learn and base languages you can learn from has been increasing.

Although there is a mobile app, I prefer to use the website on my laptop.

Personally, I concentrate better when I sit down at a computer to learn. While it is also easy to be distracted on the computer (because of the Internet), my mind associates “work” with a computer more than it does with my phone.

I have also found that it is more challenging on the desktop, as I have to type out the entire sentence. On the mobile app, you might only have to form the sentence from a bank of words or tap word pairs. Might as well challenge myself, right? I would also encourage you to use it on your computer if you can, because I believe you can learn more from each session.

Still, I recognise the benefits of the mobile app. You can easily squeeze in an extra session when you have to stand in line to wait or are otherwise unoccupied and have nothing else to do.

In terms of amount of time, I spend about 5 minutes daily. I do 2 exercises on the German from French tree. My focus is German, but I want to practise my French too. Translating between two L2 languages also forces my brain not to put them in the same “slot.”

There was a time when I used to spend close to half an hour, but that was because I was doing many language pairs.

The gamification element for Duolingo does add a little fun. It’s nice to gain XP and level up, as well as to keep that streak going whenever you complete a lesson. 😉

2. Memrise

Memrise was the second platform that I discovered, after Duolingo. I use it to learn vocabulary.

It uses spaced repetition, so the time between reviews are lengthened when you answer a question correctly.

I started with it because it was convenient. Any user can create their own courses. and if it’s public, others can search for the course and start learning. I took advantage of this to learn vocabulary in the languages I was interested in without having to build my own lists.

This is why I am still using it, although I had thought that I would “one day” use Anki.

The Memrise team has also started developing their own courses. The recent ones they did with their Membus tour last year are pretty decent in quality.

I like how the courses teach you a new word, and then teach you the word in the sentence.

The advantage of these courses is that they come in many languages too, for both the target and source. And once again, I can choose to learn German from French. (I have not yet done that, since I have other courses going there and I’d like to complete some before I start a new one.)

Memrise also has a gamification element, where you gain points for correct answers. When you get enough points, you advance to the next rank.

You also can set a goal for each course: 1500 (5 minutes), 6000 (15 minutes), or 20 000 (45 minutes) points per day. Turning this option on turns on the streak counter. There is one streak counter per course, rather than an overall one.

I currently spend 45 minutes to an hour per day in total for all my courses. For most of them, I have the 1500 points goal set. I practise vocabulary for French, German, Italian, and Greek.

There were times when the service was unreliable, though I think the last major incident was probably last year. It seems to have gotten more stable.

Like for Duolingo, I use Memrise on my laptop. Especially for Memrise, I think that it is a lot more beneficial than using the app, because typing out everything in full really forces you to remember everything. On the app, you could get away with only having to select the correct option or rearranging the sentence. I discovered that all this did was give an illusion of learning.

3. Lingvist

I started with Lingvist for French back in 2015, and at one point I completed learning all the words available. (When I last checked, there were new words added.)

Lingvist claims to be able to teach you a language in 200 hours, with the equivalent of B2 level, at least in terms of vocabulary. I cannot verify that, because when I started with Lingvist for French, I was already at B1.

A few months ago, they released the course for German. I am currently still working through the course, having X hours and Y words learnt.

With Lingvist, you learn new words in the context of a sentence. Each time, you are shown a card. The missing word’s translation is given. If you choose, you can also opt to see the translation of the entire sentence.

You are encouraged to guess when you see a new word that you do not know. If you get it wrong, you will see the word again. The more times you get it wrong, the more often you will see it again in your repeat stack.

I do the recommended 100 cards a day (it used to be 150), which takes me about 15-20 minutes.

The downside is that because the content is specially created for each language, the amount of languages available is more limited. Lingvist currently has (for English speakers) the following courses: French, Russian, Spanish, German.

Lingvist has a mobile app as well. With the recent improvements, I think the experience is comparable to the desktop application.

Lingvist is still in beta, which is why it is free. There is a chance that they might start to charge for the service in future.

Have you used any of the 3 platforms discussed above before? What are your experiences with them like? What are your favorite resources for language learning?


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned above.