Resources

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As you very well know, you can't learn a language to your fullest ability without actually practicing speaking with people in the language you're learning. Here I've put together a list of my favorite sites to find language partners. Starting with my favorite at the top to the ones I don't have much experience with.

1. italki

My personal favorite on this list that is great for finding natives to Skype with. Kind of like set up like a social network. Search for natives then follow and send them a message to get started. Almost all people will be willing to voice chat using Skype but some only text chat.

Website: italki.com

2. SharedTalk

A website owned by Rosetta Stone, SharedTalk is one of the most popular language exchange sites and my second favorite pick by far. The website is a bit clunky and old but it allows you to text chat, voice chat and send mail to people - all from the website.

Website: SharedTalk.com

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3. HelloTalk

Fantastic app for the iPhone and Android. Allows you to connect with native speakers and communicate with them via text chat and voice chat. Has built in tools that allow you to translate, look up and romanize text while chatting with someone.

Website: HelloTalk.com

4. Interpals

I've used this site to find many native speakers and even made new friends from around the world. It's a social network made for penpals but they also have a language exchange section you can use. Just use the built in search function and find natives from your country of choice. Although it's a penpal site, most people are on there for language exchange.

Website: Interpals.net

5. Lang-8

Lang-8 is a journal based website where you write an entry in your target language and then a native or someone fluent will correct it for you. You can message people as well, so if you find someone who you would like to language exchange with, just send them a message and ask.

Website: Lang-8.com

6. Livemocha

Purchased from Rosetta Stone in 2013, Livemocha combines traditional learning methods with online practice and interaction with native speakers from all over the world.  Just create an account and send requests to people that are available for language exchange.

Website: Livemocha.com

7. MyLanguageExchange

One of the oldest websites on this list (and oldest looking), MyLanguageExchange is exactly what the name implies. Just search for exactly the people you want to speak with and send them an email to get started.

Website: MyLanguageExchange.com

8. Busuu

Busuu is an innovative online community for learning languages. You can write, as well as speak and get corrections from native speakers. There is also a feature called busuutalk that allows you to voice chat with others.

Website: Busuu.com

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Do you know of any other websites? Please do share with us!

2 Comments

A reader named John suggested awhile ago that I check out this free website service called Rhinospike. It's been around for some time but I had no idea about it sadly. I wish I did though.

There have been plenty of times when I'm talking with one of my friends, practicing Spanish and then they end up telling me that I'm pronouncing a word wrong (or lots of words). It's invaluable to get the feedback and learn how to pronounce the word(s) correctly. The problem is that we don't have natives or friends around to correct us all the time. This is where this website comes in handy.

So... what is Rhinospike?

Basically, you submit any kind of foreign language text you want read aloud. Stories, letters, e-mails... you name it. Someone who is a native will come along and record whatever you want read and then you can download and listen to it. You can also submit your own recording for others which will help your request get bumped in the queue system.

You could even take the audio file you receive and embed it into your favorite flashcard SRS like Anki, for example, which is one of my main reasons for using this website now.

The only downside is that it can take awhile to receive your audio file. If it's an urgent matter then it won't work so well. But if you can wait, then it's fine. There is an area where you can browse previous submissions so you might be able to come across a word or phrase that someone has already requested which you need.

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Rhinospike is a completely free service. They can do this because instead of them doing the recording for others, users do it themselves. Meaning no cost to them besides running the website.

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Listening is one of the most important things to do when learning a language, don't overlook this!

Do you know of any sites like this? Use this yourself?

17 Comments

Looking for the best language learning apps out there? Well, I compiled a list just for you. Here are, in my opinion, some of the top ones you will find. All available for Android, iOS, and your own computer.

Duolingo

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My favorite app on the list is this. Duolingo is a free language learning app where you translate real content from blogs, websites, etc. to your language. The premise is that you are helping to translate the web by learning a language at the same time. Other people can rate your translation as well to make sure it's the best.

There's also interactive lessons you can go through which adds to the site, but the best thing of the site is the real content translation you do.

They currently have Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian, with Chinese in the works.

Android | iOS | Website

Busuu

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This app allows you to learn languages with interactive language courses and lessons. It has everything, really. Beginner to Advanced lessons, tons of vocabulary, 150 different day-to-day topics, audio-visual learning material, you can get corrected by native speakers, and it has a huge community.

Busuu only gives you 20 courses for free though, after that you have to pay for the rest. But you can do a ton of other stuff for free so it doesn't really matter.

Currently, Busuu offers Spanish, French, English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Polish, and Turkish.

Android | iOS | Website

LingQ

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An app where you read and listen to texts. Whenever you come across a word you don't know, you click on it and it tells you what it is. You set a number from 1-5, meaning how well you know the word. This is called creating a "LingQ" When you come across the word in another text, it will be highlighted meaning you've seen it before and should know probably know it. You can also set the word to "known" and it won't be highlighted anymore.

The more texts you read and listen to, the bigger your vocabulary becomes, and the better your listening skills get. The only downside - it's not totally free. You have to pay a monthly fee to use certain features such as listening to the texts (only for the mobile version) and you can't create more than 100 LingQs, which you will use up very quickly. I recommend it only if you have the extra money on it. There are free alternatives though.

It also has other features such as flashcards and corrections by native speakers (paid feature).

Currently, they have English, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Swedish. They also have 10 beta languages including, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Esperanto, Latin, Norwegian, Turkish, Finish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Romanian.

Android | iOS | Webite

Anki

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An app that I HIGHLY recommend. It's a flashcard based, spaced repetition software (SRS).  You enter words or phrases into the app and then take a quick run through the cards.  When you are going through the cards, you pick how well you remembered the word. 1 day (hard), 3 days (ok), or a week (easy). You don't do anything else until the card pops back up into your flashcards at a later time. Every time you remember the word, it will space it out further and further - for example 1 month or 6 months until you see it again.

Many language learners recommend this app as it will help tremendously.

You can put any language you want into the app since it's flashcard based.

Android | iOS (paid) | Website

Memrise

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A really cool app for language learning. It can be used for other things though such as geography or history.

You create "mems" which are usually meme like pictures that help you remember the word. I've found that the funnier the mem is, the better I can remember it. 😉 You can also choose other peoples' mems to use instead of making your own. Simply choose a course and go through it, picking (or creating) mems to use for the word or phrase.

Memrise currently offers English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Swedish, Polish, Finnish, and more.

It's really fun, so go check it out.

Android | iOS | Website

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4 Comments

Ready to boost your speed of language acquisition? LWT or Learning with Texts, is exactly what you need. It is quite similar to the popular LingQ. It allows you to have everything LingQ offers, only you can use it offline and it's totally free. Everything is built into the same window (dictionary and the text) so you don't have to leave the page. You also have the ability to upload audio, and check your statistics -- everything you need is there. It's usable on iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. All you need is a website to host the software or, alternatively, localhost it on your computer.

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What exactly is it?

LWT is basically a software that allows you to read texts in whatever language you are learning. Whenever you come across a new word, it will be highlighted in blue, meaning it's an unknown word. You can click on the word and it will allow you to choose the status of it. For example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, well-known, or ignore the word. 1 meaning you don't know it well. Each number you choose has a different color to remind you the status of that specific word. So if you set it as a 3, the word will be a light orange color. Well-known words have no color. If you ever come across one of these words in another text, they will be in that color of the status you chose.

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You can also look up the word or sentence in a dictionary. The cool part about this being that it opens in the bottom right corner of the window so you never have to leave the page. This makes reading the text much quicker than having to open up another window for a translator, and flip between it.

If you have it, you can upload audio to accompany the text. Much like LingQ has audio along with its readings. This is the only slight downside as you might not be able to obtain an audio of the text while LingQ has audio for every text on the site.

How do I install it?

A big problem with this software is in its difficulty to install. If you do not want to go through the headache of installing it on your own computer, you can use this website, provided by Benny from fluentin3months. If you do wish to install it locally (offline), then I recommend this article explaining how. I took the route of using it on my own website as I didn't want to mess with installing it locally. If you have your own website with hosting, here's how to install it.

First, download the files from http://sourceforge.net/projects/lwt/files/ and extract them somewhere on your computer. Open up whatever you use for FTP managing (I use FileZilla) and upload all the files to a new folder on the root of your site. I called my folder "lwt." When it is done uploading, you simply visit your website like this - example.com/lwt (or whatever you named the folder)

The LWT software should now be up and running on your website for you to use.

If you do not have your own hosting then you can always use a free webhost such as 000webhost.com. LWT's homepage has instructions on how to set it up on 000webhost.

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And that's it. I and many other language learners recommend this software very highly. Don't overlook it if you are serious about learning your target language!

Have you ever heard of or tried this before? I would love to hear your comments below!

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