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9 Great Platforms To Learn Languages For Free

9 Great Platforms To Learn Languages For Free

I honestly feel quite insecure every time someone tells me that they can speak more than one language. One of the disadvantages of English being your first language is that you’re more likely to be a “monolingual” unlike countless others around the world who can speak at least two languages—if not more.

What’s more is that in the diverse, multicultural, and relatively global marketplace these days, knowing more than one language always puts you at an advantage in businesses that are not defined by geographic boundaries—which is a characteristic of most businesses. Hey, even the United States (within its boundaries) is one of the most multicultural places you can work in today!

With more and more research proving bilinguals are more likely to get a job, earn more, and score better on standardized tests,[1] we’re only wondering what we need to do learn another lingo!

Luckily, unlike the past, we don’t have to read piles of books or take expensive courses to learn a language. Thanks to the internet and the vast array of resources available on various platforms, there are plenty of ways we can learn languages for free whenever and wherever we like.

Here’re 9 platforms where you can learn languages for free:

1. DuoLingo

Learn Language Free

    Duolingo is a fairly new platform that has won several awards including iPhone App of the Year 2013 and Google’s Best of the Best 2014.

    Currently, it offers lessons on 19 different languages. The platform will take users through a unique experience with a game-like interface where you can earn points, track your days, and get tips on how to improve.

    The app is available on iPhone, Android and Windows phone, so if you own a Blackberry or Linux-based device, you’ll have to resort to the computer.

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    Check out the DuoLingo!

    2. Busuu

      Busuu is also a lot like DuoLingo, except it offer only 12 languages, but some very unique ones. Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese can be hard to learn and few platforms offer these languages, but Busuu does.

      Busuu also has a very large community of over 50 million speakers. The great part is that you can easily sign in through your Facebook and Google account. However, the app is only available for Android and Apple devices.

      Check out Busuu!

      3. Live Mocha

        Live Mocha was one of the first online platforms to offer language learning for free since its launch in 2007. One of the coolest things about Live Mocha is that it gives you access to natives speakers, teachers, language enthusiasts, and language experts around the world from over 190 countries.

        The community encourages language learning through interaction, which is excellent! So, you get to practice your conversation with people around the globe through comments on practice exercises, lessons with feedback, text or video chats, and more.

        Check out Live Mocha!

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        4. LingQ.com

          This platform has also come a long way since its days of basic language learning and reading lessons. Although it has cartoonish, children’s-type interface, it can be used by any language learner of any age — and at any stage of language learner (beginner to advanced).

          This is a great resource for teachers and classrooms. The only downside is that you won’t get access to unlimited vocabulary or extra features unless you sign up for the premium accounts.

          Check out LingQ!

          5. Lang 8

          Learn Language Free

            What this platform offers is pretty simple: a community of native speakers who connect with you and correct what you write. So, clearly, this is a platform for those speakers who are already proficient in writing and reading a foreign language.

            For example, masters dissertation will help you write in your native language and you can translate it to a foreign language and get it checked on Lang 8. You can return the favor by correcting those who are learning your native language. This one’s best if you’re working on improving how you write in a certain language.

            Check out Lang-8!

            6. Papora

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              Papora will allow you to register for free and learn English, Spanish, French, or German.

              Rather than focusing purely on vocabulary, Papora will also incorporate grammar so that you can form proper sentences. The “bite-sized” lessons are very easy with excellent audio.

              The mobile app takes users through 60 real life situations has over 2,000 keywords and phrases with audio content. This app is great for busy learners!

              Check out Papora!

              7. Memrise

                Memrise uses three simple ingredients to make it one an effective language learning tool: science, fun, and community. When it comes to science, the team addresses the fact that the brain learns faster with the help of mnemonic flashcards. These flashcards are called “mems” and they help aid retention. With the help of games and videos, learning is also made fun.

                Memrise has over 300,000 courses which is pretty extensive and has a large range of languages to choose from. The coolest part is that language is not the only thing you can learn on this website.

                If you’re also interested in learning more about a specific country’s history, culture, or geography, Memrise will give you a free course on that too! You can get this as an app on Android and Apple devices.

                Check out Memrise!

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                8. Lingualia

                  Lingualia is a pretty cool platform that is largely focused on “social networking” for learning a language.

                  One of the best features of Lingualia is the artificially intelligent bot called “Lingu” who will treat you like a student. Lingu will make sure that you improve on areas that are challenging for you and stay motivated to learning your language.

                  For those of you who need consistent motivation, this is a great feature. Even though this platform sadly serves only two languages: English and Spanish, you should just give it a try!

                  Check out Lingualia!

                  9. Digital Dialects

                    This is fantastic platform where language leaning is made fun and easy. Digital Dialect focuses on providing users with games to learn a new language with the help of phrases, vocabulary, numbers, spelling, verb conjugations, and alphabets.

                    You’ll need Macromedia Flash to run the website, but I really love how responsive the website is, overall. The downside to using this platform is that it’s not available as an app and most languages cover only basic beginner-level language skills.

                    Check out Digital Dialects!

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                    Alright, that pretty much sums up my favorite list of language learning platforms that are available for free! It’s amazing how the increasing demand of bilingualism has also made learning a new language easy. Well, not easy, but convenient nonetheless!

                    More About Language Learning

                    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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                    Sadie Douse

                    Sadie is an executive academic consultant at CorpEssay. She's also a passionate writer who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                    Published on May 18, 2021

                    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                    How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

                    The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

                    Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

                    Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

                    Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

                    There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

                    Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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                    Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

                    We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

                    Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

                    A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

                    The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

                    Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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                    Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

                    Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

                    Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

                    While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

                    Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

                    These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

                    Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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                    Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

                    Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

                    Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

                    Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

                    Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

                    Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

                    As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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                    This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

                    Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

                    Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

                    These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

                    Actions Speak Louder Than Words

                    Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

                    Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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                    Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

                    More Tips Improving Listening Skills

                    Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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