2013-02-21-languagelearning
EdSurge
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Forty Ways to Learn a Language

EdSurge takes a look at apps & programs for learning languages that feature cultural links

We're paying tribute to the very first issue of ES-Instruct by reviving this cheat sheet of language-learning tools. The selected "twitteristics" come from needs voiced in our (dearly departed) #esinstruct language learning chat. The "Practice with native speakers" rating indicates some level of functionality for live online chat or audio exchange. "Cultural exchange or immersion" indicates which products provide an understanding of language in some context of the native country. Prices are relative. '$$' is in the range of the average price (~$120) per student for a language textbook.

Language learning courseware products

Compiled by EdSurge

Product Practice w/ native speakers? Cultural exchange/ immersion? Price
BYU
1st, 2nd, and 3rd year Spanish. Instructor-driven, all virtual curriculum -- no textbook or written supplements.
$$$
ChinesePod
Comprehensive chinese langugage acqusisition materials including lessons, assessment, pronunciation tasks, and beginner to advanced courses. Also includes account options for academic or corporate use.
$$$
Florida Virtual School
Full courses, entirely online, aligned to Sunshine (FL state) standards and accredited by So. Asso. of Colleges & Schools. Middle School: Spanish. High School: Spanish, Chinese, French, Latin. Free for FL students.
$$
Hello-Hello
Free online interactive language courses available on iOS and Android. Developed in collaboration with American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
FREE (BETA)
Imagine Learning
English language acquisition for Pre-K, children w/ disabilities, and ELL. Research based curriculum.
$$$
K12
Spanish 1,2,3 and AP free for students enrolled in K12 online schools, or for purchase by independent learners. Also Fr, Ger, Latin, Chinese, Japanese. Accredited curriculum for academic credit.
$$
Lingueo
Virtual immersion language learning with 1-on-1 video conferencing with native speakers and direct feedback. Provides context-specific instruction such as business, travel, or romance.
$$$
Michel Thomas
Critically acclaimed method from "language teacher to the stars." CDs cover everything from basic phrases to conversational mastery.
$-$$
Middlebury Interactive Languages
Exposure, competency, and fluency courses for Spanish, French, Chinese, German. Latin, and Arabic. Includes specific learning tracks for K-12, including AP and blended learning solutions.
$$$
MyLingo
English language acquisition through subtitled music videos from top 40/pop culture songs. Also includes aggregated video collection of free online courses and supplemental flashcards.
FREE (BETA)
National University Virtual High School
Spanish I, II, and III. Style geared towards independent learners and homechoolers. 10% off for district 'partnerships'.
$$$
Pimsleur
Long-established Pimsleur method covering all languages and all levels. Packages structured from basic to conversational to advanced. Delivered via CDs.
FREE-$$$
PowerSpeak
Spanish 1,2,3 and AP by semester or full year. Multiple implementation options for schools. Meets national standards and accredited for academic credit transfer. Interactive multi-media driven curriculum.
$$-$$$
Sombrero Time
Comprehensive K-8 Spanish curriculum developed by parents in response to lack of suitable learning tools. iPad app also in development.
$$$

Supplemental language learning products

Compiled by EdSurge

Product Practice w/ native speakers? Cultural exchange/ immersion? Price
Babbel.com
Flashcard system like Rosetta Stone; iOS app; lower price; more limitations.
$
BrainPOP ESL
Quite literally BrainPOP + ESL. Collection of interactive lessons, games, and activities tailored towards ESL students (esp. middle school; elementary).
$$
CAPL
Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon. Provides Creative Commons licensed pictures that represent the true meaning and intent of a word in a given language. Covers words in English, German, French, Chinese, and Spanish.
FREE
Colingo
Startup connecting Portuguese speakers to native American English speakers.
FREE (BETA)
Digital Dialects
60 languages covered. Free online games for language learning. Covers numbers, phrases, spelling, pronunciation, and conjugation.
FREE
Duolingo
Takes advantage crowdsourcing language translations & language-learning site. As you progress through lessons, you help translate websites and documents.
FREE (BETA)
Eleutian
Founded in 2006. Operates 9 teaching centers in Western US; open 24x7. Heavily used in Asia; features 1:1 or group tutoring sessions with certified US teachers and uses Pearson's ELLIS system.
$$$
Forvo
Supplemental tool for foreign language speaking. Provides pronunciation assistance through hundreds of recordings in native tongue. Completely user-generated and updated on a regular basis.
FREE
iTalki
A language social network and marketplace connecting learners to native speakers or language teachers.
FREE
LangMedia
Offers resources for learning languages less commonly available in US schools (e.g. Arabic, Bulgarian, Persian, Thai, and Urdu). Includes 'Culture Talk' feature, a collection of videos from native speakers intended to provide new cultural insights.
FREE
Live Mocha
Catered to users who prefer casual, conversational, 1-on-1 environments. Includes flashcards and interaction with native speakers. Take full advantage of social media discovery (called the "Facebook of Foreign Languages").
$
Make Beliefs Comix
Comic-strip creation tool allowing users to create custom comic stories in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, or Latin. Includes teacher resources for classroom uses.
FREE
Mango Languages
Social "language exchange site" good for immersion experiences; not easy to monitor student actions.
$
Remembr.it
Flash-card based language learning for Simplified and Traditional chinese characters. Includes audio and common uses for each character. Future releases include Japanesse characters, and Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Russian vocabulary.
$$
Memrise
Supplemental flashcard game for language learning. Includes audio pronunciations and video of words and phrases being used in proper context.
FREE
MindSnacks
Critically acclaimed iOS animated language learning games. Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Mandarin for English speakers.
FREE
Open Culture
List of free resources for learning 37 different languages. All resources can be downloaded to computer.
FREE
Palabea
No curriculum or course, but a complete set of tools to find a suitable language exchange partner. 1-on-1 video conferencing available for maximum cultural exposure.
FREE
PlaySay
Suite of iOS apps for context-specific language learning. Private Facebook beta that helps learners acquire languages by communicating those languages through pictures. Also includes Language Guide to search for context-specific language learning tools.
$
Quest
Open-source system for creating and playing text adventure games. Covers reading and writing in English, French, German, Spanish and Dutch. No coding skills required to create a game.
FREE
Repeat After Us
Online library of copyright-free English literature and audio recordings. Intended for ESL students to be able to read, hear, and repeat words for pronunciation improvement.
FREE
Rosetta Stone
All languages and levels. Online or client software. Increasing curriculum structure from Homeschool edition to Adult Edition.
$$$
The Story Place
Digital library with stories in English and Spanish geared towards PreK and elementary students. Parent activity guides also included.
FREE
Verbling
Easy way to connect with native speakers through live video chat. Facebook integrated.
FREE
Voki
Language teachers' LMS; lets students create custom avatar 'voki', add voice and share.
$
Voxy
Helps ESL students acquire language by reading current articles from world news, pop culture, and sports. Students can click on highlighted words for pronunciation and Spanish translation. Available on Android and iOS.
FREE
Wordplay
A site to teach Spanish words and phrases through game play; started by Nolan Bushnell of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese fame.
FREE
WordSteps
Supplemental tool for foreign language vocabulary. Create your own dictionary from English, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, German, Japanese, Italian, or Portuguese, and practice through six different interactive activities.
FREE

About the Author

Regular_leonardmedlock
Leonard is a Product Manager and staff writer at EdSurge. Email: leonard@edsurge.com

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