Software

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These two language learning programs are without a doubt, the most popular in North America. So how do you know which is the better option? Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone? Well, it totally depends. Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone is kind of a tricky subject. It's hard to compare the two since they both teach in different ways. So it might be better to ask which one is more effective.

Pimsleur vs Rosetta Stone - The Basics

Firstly, Pimsleur teaches you through listening and repeating. Basically how a child might learn a language. Rosetta Stone on the other hand, teaches through pictures, audio, and writing. Pimsleur does have reading lessons but it's not the main focus.

Now that you know the difference, you can know which one is right for you. Are you a more visual learner? Rosetta might be a better pick. Pimsleur if you are more of an audio learner. Either way, that is a rudimentary way to look at it and you should still know the pros and cons of each to know which will be better for you.

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Pros of Pimsleur

  • Short and effective lessons
  • All you have to do is listen and repeat
  • Teaches conversational language and not tourist phrases
  • Your pronunciation will improve dramatically
  • Audio based so you can learn anywhere you want
  • The speakers talk at a normal rate of speed

Pros of Rosetta Stone

  • Listening comprehension will improve
  • Has speaking and typing games
  • It's very enjoyable and fun to use unlike Pimsleur
  • You can get coaching at the end of units called "sessions"
  • Has voice recognition software so you get a lot of speaking practice in

Cons of Pimsleur

  • Very boring - especially for visual learners
  • Tends to teach in formal language instead of informal
  • No writing lessons and some languages (Chinese, Japanese, Swiss-German, and Ojibwe) don't offer any reading lessons.

Cons of Rosetta Stone

  • Very expensive
  • Need to use it on a computer
  • Teaches words and phrases you may never use
  • Does not teach grammar at all (however this could be a pro to many people)

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Guarantees

Pimsleur has a guarantee for spoken proficiency if you complete the first 30 lessons of a program. If you don't reach proficiency, they'll give you a full refund. Rosetta Stone offers a 30 day, no-risk, money-back guarantee which is enough time to figure out if you like it.

Conclusion

Overall, I think that it's highly subjective which of the two is better. I honestly think they should be used side by side as they are both great products. If you need to pick one over the other, however, I would say Pimsleur would be the better choice.

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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