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Last Updated on March 16, 2020

7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites

7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites

Hola, ahn young, bonjour!

With so many languages out there to learn, it’s hard to know where to even get started!

While no one knows exactly how many languages exist, there are several thousands of them (a portion of the Bible had been translated into 2,508 different languages). Just like our own ancestry, most languages belong into different families. Indo-European is the origin of most languages that we speak today, including Spanish, English, and Russian.

If you have the urge to learn a new language this year, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to share the 7 best language learning apps and websites that will help you learn a language.

1. Duolingo

    Key Highlights: Gamified language learning app

    Duolingo has been leading the trend of gamified language learning, even finding a unique way to monetize their app through translations.

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    While just using Duolingo to learn a language is not recommended, it can be a good way to get the ball rolling to learn basic words and phrases of a language.

    Check out Duolingo here.

    2. Busuu

      Key Highlights: Visual app to learn basic phrases

      Busuu has similar features to Duolingo in that it’s a mobile app that has a gamified, visual approach to learning the basics of a language. While Duolingo is certainly in lead in terms of popularity, Busuu is an alternative you can check out.

      Check out Busuu here.

      3. Babbel

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        Key Highlights: Gamified language learning app

        Babbel also sits in the same category as Duolingo and Busuu, but perhaps with more variety in terms of language. Instead of offering live interaction with native speakers, Busuu uses algorithms to teach you the basics of a language in a fun way.

        Check out Babbel here.

        4. Memrise

          Key Highlights: Simple way to memorize language vocabulary

          Memrise is a powerful tool built to help you memorize anything faster, including language vocabulary. They have categories built specifically for popular languages like Mandarin, French, Spanish, and Italian, allowing you to jump in immediately to start memorizing words.

          Check out Memrise here.

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          5. Rosetta Stone

            Key Highlights: Language learning program to help you learn the basics of a language

            Rosetta Stone is another method that has been around for a long time, which is an online program designed to help you improve reading, writing, and listening skills. Since there’s no real-life interacting with native speakers, improving speaking skills is a little more difficult, especially if you want to learn about a specific culture, like Argentina, France, Colombia, etc.

            Check out Rosetta Stone here.

            6. BBC Languages

              Key Highlights: Quality language tutorial videos

              BBC Languages (from BBC) includes courses, videos, and key facts that you can explore on their website, which includes common languages like French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

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              My personal favorite is exploring their “A Guide to…” which shares intriguing facts like “the number of speakers in X language” or “the origins of a language.”

              Check out BBC Languages here.

              7. Rype

                Key Highlights: 24/7 Unlimited Private Language Lessons For Busy People

                If you’ve ever told yourself that “you’re too busy” to learn a language, then you haven’t met Rype yet. Rype offers unlimited private language lessons (Spanish right now) with professional native speaking tutors available 24/7. By being able to book lessons at any time of the day, any day of the week, you can learn on your own time without interrupting your busy lifestyle.

                One last point to mention is that since you’re interacting live and one-on-one with native speakers, you’ll get the opportunity to improve your speaking skills much faster versus non-interactive methods. In fact, a study by NTL Institute shares that humans can learn up to 18x faster through immediate real-life immersion versus learning through a traditional lecture setting.

                Check out Rype here.

                More Tips for Language Learning

                Featured photo credit: Siddharth Bhogra via unsplash.com

                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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