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8 Websites to Learn a New Language

Updated on January 14, 2017

My obsession with new languages started when I was a kid. I used to take my parents' English books and just read them away without having a clue what the sentences meant. Portuguese being my mother tongue, English could have been a challenge, but by the age of 9 I was confident on my conversational skills. Spanish came just as easy, given it's quite close to my native one.

From there, I tried learning Finnish, German, I finally managed to communicate in Italian, I passed through Bulgarian (yes, I can read the cyrillic alphabet) and I am learning Romanian to close the topic on the Latin languages - and also because I have been in Romania for too long and it started to get embarassing that I coudn't even order lunch in their language.

I definitely have some techniques to learn a new language. More than any app or website, I try to incorporate what I'm learning into my daily life. Not just with languages, but anything I become obsessed with becomes the main topic of conversations and ideas. If I can give you a few tips that work for me, those are:

  • Think in whatever language you are learning. Count in that language. Have the conversations that you usually have with yourself (everybody does that, don't be ashamed) in that language.
  • Listen to a lot of foreign music. Shakira definitely helped me improve my Spanish plus helped me discover a bunch of new Spanish artists. Just type "top 100 songs + country name" on Youtube and you should get awesome playlists.
  • Force yourself to speak, even if it sounds silly, even if you are not sure of what you are saying and, most important, even if people laugh. Some people have this horrible tendency of mocking people's accents but, hey, if you have an accent, means you speak at least 2 languages and that's enough for you to feel good about yourself.
  • Read kids' books and watch cartoons. They usually have easier expressions, not so many slangs and you will learn things that really matter, such as colors, objects, food etc. Plus, cartoons are always fun.
  • Enjoy the language you are learning, fall in love with it. It's important to only put your energy and focus on something that you really want to accomplish rather than doing it just for the sake of it. One of the reasons why I didn't follow through with Bulgarian was because I simply hated it and I was learning just to please an ex-boyfriend.

Now starts the part of this article that must have brought you here: websites and apps for anybody learning a second (or third, fourth, fifth) language. I have used many throughout the years and some have really helped me improve my skills. I believe 100% in self teaching and I have never attended a class for a foreign language so far in my life, still, I speak nearly 5.

The list below is part of my bookmarks and I have tried at least once each website and application on it.

italki - Great if you are ready to chat with natives from any country. You can also pay for private lessons.
Duolingo - Very popular nowadays and if you already speak more than one language you have even more options.
Memrise - They have a great system to make you memorize words and short expressions and they have support for many languages.
Mondly - Similar to Memrise, many languages and very complete modules.
busuu - Very limited if you don't have the Premium version, but still worth registering if you are a beginner in the language you want to learn.
50languages - Similar to Memrise and Mondly, but they also have great tests and radio stations.
Coursera - Not only for languages, Coursera is a great website for online courses, still they host some great ones on specifics of some languages.
ALISON - Same as Coursera.

All the websites mentioned above have proved to be functional and a quick way to learn at least new expressions to communicate during a trip. I'm still a fan of the good old Dictionary, so keeping one of those next to you while you browse the internet is always a good idea.

What are your methods to study at home? Do you have a favorite website or application? Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

Do you speak more than one language?

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© 2017 Mayara Sousa


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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 15 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you for sharing an excellent article about learning new languages. Having learned Chinese Mandarin and Thai for conversation, I agree with your suggestions for learning languages 100 percent. As to the websites, I have tried Alison, busuu, and Duolingo already, and find Duolingo to be the best. I haven't tried the other five yet, but I certainly will check them out. Thanks again for the information!