5 Language-Learning Tools To Put You On The Path To Fluency

Whether you're planning to visit another country or simply want to expand your cultural horizons from home, it's useful to learn another language so that you can become more open to all the world has to offer. Thankfully, a number of modern tools are available to make this process a convenient and successful one. Encompassing an array of media from analog to digital, the resources included here will get you on the right track toward achieving multilingual fluency. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

5 Tools to Help You Become Fluent in Other Languages

Name Highlights
Fluent Forever A neuroscience-rooted method that uses personalized flashcards and spaced repetition
Free Language Offers language-learning through various media such as a podcast, blog posts, apps, courses, peer-to-peer tutoring, and more
Drops Combines short word games with mnemonic associations, and provides instruction in many rare languages not available from other applications
Multibhashi Caters to Indian users with Hindi to English and English to Hindi translation, and encourages self-study as well as tutoring sessions
Speak & Translate Converts both voice and text to different languages by making use of Apple speech recognition technology

The Secrets of Being a Polyglot

The Top 10 Languages by Number of Native Speakers

  1. Chinese
  2. Spanish
  3. English
  4. Hindi
  5. Arabic
  6. Bengali
  7. Portuguese
  8. Russian
  9. Japanese
  10. Lahnda (Western Punjabi)

Quick Tips for Effective Language-Learning

In Depth

It takes a lot of work to learn a new language. Fortunately, many great digital tools have emerged to help you achieve fluency, without or in addition to classes you might take in person. This list, presented in no particular order, looks at five of them.

#1 on the list is Fluent Forever, a neuroscience-based language learning method that can be learned from both an app and a book. The program has four steps, rooted in the use of personalized flashcards, which help the brain to learn and retain new information, and spaced repetition, which optimizes study time by ensuring that your flashcards show up at the perfect moment, right before you forget them.

The first step is to train your ears with pronunciation lessons. Next, learn vocabulary through images instead of translations. In step three, you absorb grammar naturally through stories relevant to you. Finally, practice speech to fluency with native tutors. The method can be generalized for any language, and there are versions of the app tailored to Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian, among others.

The first step is to train your ears with pronunciation lessons.

At #2, Free Language offers sources for language learning in multiple media at no cost. It comprises a podcast, instructional blog posts, a newsletter, apps, structured courses, peer-to-peer tutoring and exchange, videos, and all-in-one kits. It was started in 2006 by Chapman Woodriff, who travels the world learning new tongues.

Woodriff also has a background in linguistics, with a degree from University of Virginia. The site offers specialized instruction in nearly 100 languages, from some of the world's most popular, like Hindi, Mandarin, Arabic, and Spanish to the less commonly taught, such as Luxembourgish, Zarma, Dari, and Kazakh.

Coming in at #3 is Drops, a lavishly designed app that promises a new and fun method of language learning. The program combines short, engaging word games with mnemonic associations. It currently offers instruction in more than 30 languages, including many not available from other applications, such as Samoan, Maori, and the Northern Japanese tongue of Ainu.

The program combines short, engaging word games with mnemonic associations.

While Drops is designed for spoken languages, a companion app called Scripts teaches new alphabets, so users can master writing them. It features seven character systems: American Sign Language, Russian Cyrillic, English, Hindi Devanagari, Japanese Kana, Chinese Hanzi, and Korean Hangul. Both apps are regularly updated with new subject areas and the Drops blog posts challenges to keep you motivated.

In the #4 spot, it's Multibhashi. The app was created in India by Anuradha Agarwal, who developed the program by drawing on her own language acquisition experiences. It provides a blended approach to learning where the user is encouraged to study by themselves as well as work with a tutor through text, phone, and video-based chat sessions.

Multibhashi's lessons are rooted in the user's mother tongue. Catering to the needs of Indian users, it currently offers instruction from Hindi to English and vice versa, as well as courses in Kannada, Tamil, and Gujarati for English speakers. The app's wide range of one-on-one instructors speak and teach a variety of dialects and offer expertise in different language contexts, such as business or academia.

The app's wide range of one-on-one instructors speak and teach a variety of dialects and offer expertise in different language contexts, such as business or academia.

Closing out the list at #5 is Speak & Translate from Apalon. The app converts both voice and text messages from one language to another, offering both practical help in cross-linguistic communication and a novel tool of instruction for new language learners. It can translate between writing in more than 100 dialects and between voices in more than 50.

Making use of Apple speech recognition technology, it works quickly. A language detection feature allows users to translate texts even when they don't know the dialect in question. iCloud integration provides usage history synchronized across devices. Users can choose between male and female voices, and change their speeds. The service is free, but a premium version offers unlimited translations without advertisements.