It’s always fun to learn a new language, and it’s become easier than ever with a slew of online resources. In a city like Singapore, it’s common to meet people – friends and clients – from a great variety of linguistic backgrounds. For copywriters, it’s especially important to understand the nuances of other languages, particularly when working on trans-national projects. That why we’ve scoured the web, asked the learners, and tried things out ourselves to bring you what we feel are the five best online resources for language learning.
DuoLingo operates on the basis of teaching simple vocabulary and phrases to learners, and then getting learners to translate words and phrases from the web. The aim of DuoLingo is for you to learn a language while helping to translate webpages. The benefit is that you start using the language in a practical way from the very beginning. At the moment, DuoLingo is available in English, Spanish, and German. It’s still running a private beta version so you’ll need to sign up and you’ll be informed when it’s available to everyone.
Languages: English, Spanish, German
Best for: Language learners who want to do something good for the web while learning
The neat, slick interface of BBC languages makes it relatively easy to use, and the resources are more than enough for the beginner, with audio and video courses as well as tutorials and transcripts of foreign-language TV programs. BBC offers two options for learning. One is a Quick Fix, which offers essential phrases in 40 languages, aimed at travelers. Then there are full courses in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and Chinese. The courses also cover basic communication and cultural issues when conversing in a foreign language, and you can sign up for a 12-week course with weekly email reminders.
Languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Portuguese, and many others.
Best for: Travelers
LiveMocha uses community-driven learning to instruct users on how to speak another language. The free subscription allows members to learn up to 38 languages, with basic courses and access to the LiveMocha community. The social aspect of the site ensures that you start to use the language you’re learning, and allows you to pick up on social usage, slang terms, and colloquialisms. Advanced courses are available for a monthly subscription fee.
Languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and many others.
Best for: Language learners who want to meet people while learning
This is one of the more comprehensive Japanese learning sites on the web. With extensive vocabulary and grammar lists, there are enough resources for beginner and intermediate Japanese learners. The site also includes a full pronunciation guide, as well as tutorials on the hiragana and katakana writing systems. It also encourages learners to pick up new vocabulary by singing songs to familiar tunes like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Best for: Beginner or intermediate learners working or studying in Japan
YouTube is the go-to for instructional videos, including language learning ones. If you don’t feel like staring at words or working on exercises, head to YouTube for a more interactive experience. Because there are so many language videos available on YouTube, it’s preferable to look for ones which feature native speakers so that you’ll learn the right accent. YouTube videos are also extremely useful for mnemonic activities like learning numbers, days of the weeks, and months of the year.
Languages: The usual suspects – and more added every day
Best for: Learners who want to supplement their language learning with pronunciation help and mnemonic activities
Comments or questions are welcome.