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6 Amazing Websites to Learn a Language If You’re Too Busy

6 Amazing Websites to Learn a Language If You’re Too Busy

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a busy person.

Either you’ve got a job you work hard at, a business you run yourself, or perhaps you’re out traveling the world (congrats!).
…But your goal is to learn a new language this year, and you have no idea how you’ll fit it into your schedule.

No problem. There are great time-saving language learning websites today that allows you to effectively learn a new language on your own time, without comprising your busy schedule. This way, you can keep working hard (or traveling hard if you’re the lucky), while expanding your cultural and language knowledge.

Here are 7 websites to learn a new language if you’re a busy person.

The 7 Best Language Learning Websites For the Busy Person

When it comes to finding the best language learning websites, I’ve found there are a handful of areas worth investigating and experimenting.

First, it’s the method of learning, there are 4 main categories:

1. Algorithm learning

2. Textbook learning

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3. Course learning

4. Human learning

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    Second, we need to dig deeper and measure the 4 important factors for each method:

    a) Time commitment

    b) Engagement

    c) Personalization

    d) Effectiveness

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    1. Michel Thomas

    Time commitment: Low
    Engagement: Medium
    Personalization: Low
    Effectiveness: Medium

    Michel Thomas is an audio tape course and a great teacher, that provides everything from beginner to advanced lessons.

    Although it’s a one-sided conversation, it’s not only Michel speaking in the audio tape. Michel provides a real-life conversation scenario by bringing on students to speak with each other, and correcting them along the way.

    Michel Thomas is a paid program ranging from $100 USD to $150 USD.

    michel

      2. Duolingo

      Time commitment: Low
      Engagement: Medium
      Personalization: Low
      Effectiveness: Low

      With over 50M downloads and increasing quickly, Duolingo is the most popular language learning mobile app.

      The gamification of the app is great for keeping you entertained and engaged while learning. The app is recommended for anyone who has zero knowledge and want to focus on learning the basic vocabulary and grammar.

      From personal experience, you will get what you pay, and if you want to see real, lasting results, Duolingo will only get you so far.

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      duolingo

        3. Lonely Planet

        Time commitment: Medium
        Engagement: Low
        Personalization: Medium
        Effectiveness: Medium

        Lonely Planet is one of the largest travel websites online. They also provide books on language learning, targeted at travelers who want to learn the basic conversation phrases before and during their trip.

        Because of the targeted focus, if you’re a traveler wanting to learn basic phrases in a language, it can be a simple and easy way to accomplish your goal.

        lonely

          4. Conversation Exchange

          Time commitment: High
          Engagement: Medium
          Personalization: Medium
          Effectiveness: Low

          Conversation Exchange is a place where language lovers meet online to help each other learn their native language.

          For example, a fluent person in German looking to learn English can pair up with a native English speaker looking to speak German. Conversation exchanges can take place in-person, over Skype, or through text over Whatsapp or their chat software.

          Although the concept is great, finding the right partner is a challenge due to the lack of personalization, matchmaking system, and schedule coordination. Most students will not be as dedicated because of the lack of commitment involved, and it can take some time before you discover the partner you like.

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          If you’re lacking budget and have the patience and time to go on the journey, this is a great, free way to learn conversation skills!

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            5. Memrise

            Time commitment: Low
            Engagement: Low
            Personalization: Low
            Effectiveness: Medium

            Memrise is great for one purpose: memorization. If you read our blog post on How to Learn Any Language in 90 Days, you can memorize 30 words/day for 90 days and recognize 70-80% of the language.

            You’ll have to face a lot of memorization obstacles when learning a language, and when that time comes, Memrise is a great tool to help you overcome them.

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              6. Fluentin3months

              Time commitment: Low
              Engagement: Medium
              Personalization: Low
              Effectiveness: Medium

              Fluentin3months.com is a language learning website started by Benny Lewis. As stated, he’s well known for learning languages in 3 months, and has courses available teaching you his methodology. Fluentin3months also has an avid community of fellow language learners that you can meet, which makes the website stand out above others.

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                Your Turn

                Which of these time-saving language websites will you try out?
                If there’s any tips that we may have missed, please let us know in the comments below!

                More by this author

                Sean Kim

                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                Posture

                First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                Facial Expressions

                Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                2. Relax Your Face

                New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                3. Smile More

                There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                4. Hand Gestures

                Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                5. Enhance Your Handshake

                In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                Final Takeaways

                Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                Reference

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