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February 19, 2014

Top 4 Language Learning Programs

When we think of language-learning software, most of us automatically think of the world-famous (and expensive!) programs advertised on TV and elsewhere.

A study of the latest online language-learning programs and apps reveals there are plenty of other choices out there, most of them free, usable on the internet or mobile app, and rated better, overall, than classic products like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Berlitz.

Here are our top five favorites:

1. DuoLingo  Hands down the highest-rated of all online reviews we read. Login to DuoLingo using email, Facebook or Google Plus. Language selections are limited to Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese – but honestly, what else would you need for a trip or two to Europe with passports? DuoLingo boasts no fees, ads or gimmicks; and they tout college-level courses. Their cute little owl-ish mascot, “Duo”, guides you through everything, which is very cute – a little bit like an angry bird without the anger. You can compete with Facebook friends to show off what you’ve learned; there’s an “immersion” feature that allows you to practice your language skills by translating articles from the internet; and lots, lots more. They even have iPhone and Android apps. Sweet! Sign up here and get started using this fun program in time for your next trip! https://www.duolingo.com/

2. Busuu  This one was the easiest to register with and get started learning. You can login using your Facebook account, or set up an account directly. Vocab, reading & writing exercises, exams, and goal-setting are all free. The premium option gives access to grammar units, audio dialogues, voice exercises, a travel course, a writing exercise with Nat Geo pictures, and unlimited access to 12 languages… and you get a certificate from busuu.com. Bonus: no advertisements while you’re studying if you buy the premium package. Premium “membership” is about $90 for a full year, or 20 bucks a month. Go to http://www.busuu.com/enc/ for more info.

3. Memrise  As with the others, sign up with Facebook and get started “growing your garden” with Memrise’s free language-learning program. Memrise offers over 150 language programs, as well as other categories of learning such as art & literature, math & science, history & geography, and even trivia and entertainment (that’s like a little break from studying, built into the program!). Not only can you learn on Memrise, but you can also teach using Memrise! The site is a little reminiscent of Pinterest, in that people can post boards in the community. Example: 1000 Words of Elementary German; German Musicals; Easy German Conjugation. Courses have many levels, and each has a forum so you can communicate with other learners. There are apps for Apple and Android, as well. Learn, at http://www.memrise.com/

4. Byki  Boasting 70 language courses for free under their “express” option, Byki is a downloadable desktop product offered by one of the leaders in language courses, Transparent Language. Byki’s web site has a more institutional feel than the others, but seems more secure just because you download the software and use it locally. It’s a little old-school compared to the others, but is reported to be an excellent product. Byki indicates that its program is geared toward adults who want to learn a foreign language, because adults learn better by “collecting words and phrases” in a declarative-learning system, rather than learning grammar and skills normally used in procedural learning. This product seems great for adults who aren’t internet savvy, or who feel unsafe connecting a web-based platform to their Facebook or email account. Download Byki for free at http://www.byki.com/

 






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passports Educational Group Travel partners with teachers across the United States to provide high-quality educational travel experiences to their students. Educational tours visit destinations around the world - primarily France, Italy, England, Spain and Costa Rica - at low, guaranteed prices.



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