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9 Free Language Learning Online Methods You Can’t Miss!

9 Free Language Learning Online Methods You Can’t Miss!

Learning a second language has all kinds of benefits. If you travel, you’ll be able to talk to people in places that you travel. Studies have shown that learning a second language helps your brain work better. It’s even fun learning a second language with your friends or significant other so you can communicate among yourselves. Here are some free tools you can use to learn a second language.

1. Duolingo

free language learning online

    Pros:
    • Totally free resource.
    • Support for the big languages (German, Spanish, French) along with some others.
    • Full-featured mobile apps on iOS and Android so you can learn on the go.
    • You can sign up and log in using Facebook and Google+ which makes it easy to just jump in and go.

    Cons:

    • Not as comprehensive as others.
    • If you’re looking for stuff like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Farsi, Hindi, and others, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

    Special Features: A full mobile experience lets you use this on a tablet or phone for on-the-go learning. The learning experience is formatted to be like a game to help make the learning process more fun. To try out Duolingo, go to their website.

    2. Busuu

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    free language learning online

      Pros:
      • Free features include study options for reading, writing, and speaking.
      • Free languages include Chinese and Russian along with many others including the usual ones.
      • You can sign up and log in with Facebook and Google+.
      • Mobile apps available for Android and iOS for learning on the go.

      Cons:

      • You don’t get everything in the free version. You must pay to get grammar worksheets and an official certificate of completion.
      • Still missing big languages, including pretty much all Middle Eastern languages.

      Special features: The mobile apps are a nice touch and both of them are rated fairly well on their respective platforms. More languages than most. It allows you to set goals so you can work toward them instead of being free form like others. If you want to try it out, check out the official website.

      3. Foreign Services Institute

      free language learning online

        Pros:
        • Supports a metric ton of languages including African and Middle Eastern tongues.
        • Courses are crafted by professional linguists so they are extremely comprehensive.
        • Audio recordings available for listening.
        • Study materials are PDFs and downloaded audio files which means learning offline is easy and you can put these materials on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc and learn from anywhere online or offline.

        Cons:

        • All the lessons are in PDF format and (slightly fuzzy) audio files. There are no fancy graphics, goals, mobile apps, or other features.
        • Lesson plans focus on repetition and some people don’t learn well that way.

        Special features: This is professional learning materials and among the most comprehensive available for free. The PDF format and (slightly fuzzy) audio files are a tad primitive but their portability is unmatched anywhere. This is for serious learners. If you want to check it out, go to FSI’s official website.

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        4. Livemocha

        free language learning online

          Pros:
          • Uses a unique “live learning” technique where learners can observe and learn rather than the usual learning style of repetition and lessons. Don’t worry, they still have classic lessons too.
          • Live instructor-led classes is something unique on this list.
          • You can meet other people learning the same language you are and you can become study buddies, thus adding a social aspect.
          • A doubly unique system allows you to register using your native language. You then grade the work of other people who are learning that language. This allows you to earn points. You use points to unlock more lesson plans. Thus, you must give to get and help others learn in order to learn. Awesome!

          Cons:

          • It’s very social so if you don’t want a social learning environment then this isn’t for you.
          • It’s very possible to run out of points before you purchase your next lesson and you may have to grind to get enough for the next lesson.
          • People who don’t care and don’t want to take it seriously will probably give good greats just to get points quickly. If you don’t plan to commit, you shouldn’t join.

          Special features: The give-and-get dynamic is something truly special here. Help others learn and others will help you learn! Still has the traditional lessons as a base line. Live instructors are essential. If you want to check it out, look at the LiveMocha’s website.

          5. Memrise

          free language learning online

            Pros:
            • Uses “mems” which are essentially mnemonic flash cards to help you learn new vocabulary based on the vocabulary you already know.
            • Facebook log in makes it easy to start up and get started.
            • Community generated which means the content is ever increasing.
            • Great for visual learners!

            Cons:

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            • May not be comprehensive enough for advanced learners.
            • The mem cards and courses are user generated which means the quality varies.

            Special features: The community driven nature of this method means there are new things to learn all the time. The mem cards are unique and offer a much more visually stimulating way to learn.

            6. Internet Polyglot

            free language learning online

              Pros:
              • Flash card style lessons are great for visual learners.
              • You can actually use this without signing up for anything for a while but signing up for an account is easy.
              • Mobile apps let you learn on the fly.
              • Support for a lot of languages.

              Cons:

              • Not very comprehensive so serious learners will need additional tools.
              • The mobile apps haven’t been updated in over a year so if they don’t work for you, you’re out of luck.
              • The website lacks the polish of these other websites.

              Special features: Very simple flash card games are great if you only have a few minutes to learn stuff. Even if they are old, the mobile apps are present and if they work, they’re alright. If you’re up for trying it out, check out the official website.

              7. Lang-8

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              free language learning online

                Pros:
                • Like Livemocha, Lang-8 is social based where other people grade and help you learn while you grade and help other people learn.
                • You keep a journal of the stuff you learn which is a fun way to look back and see how far you’ve come.
                • Unlike most sites, this focuses more on written language. The stuff you post is reviewed by people who speak the language and they correct your errors so you learn.

                Cons:

                • This is for people who either already speak the language or have other tools that are teaching them. Lang-8 itself doesn’t actually have things like lesson plans or anything like that. It’s more of a trial-by-fire type of learning.
                • Signing up for an account is liking signing up for a social media account. It’s very tedious.
                • No speaking tutorials at all.

                Special features: The social media aspect is actually quite fascinating. You post things in your native language and speakers of other languages will correct it so that it reads the same thing in another language. This is an amazing tool for learning sentence structure and how to write in other languages. To check it out, head to the official website.

                8. Anki

                free language learning online

                  Pros:
                  • Downloaded and installed on the computer rather than a web interface so it works offline.
                  • It’s cross platform and you can sync your cards across multiple devices which is nice.
                  • It’s actually not just for languages. You can create custom flash card sets to learn anything from math to people’s faces. The sky is the limit.
                  • Can reportedly handle flash card decks with over 100,000 flash cards. That means you can learn pretty much anything except counting to 100,001.
                  • Supports images, audio, and video flash cards.

                  Cons:

                  • They’re flash cards which means memorization. If you’re not good with that kind of learning then you probably won’t find this much help.
                  • If the language you want to learn isn’t supported, you’ll have to create your own custom flash card set which can be tedious but it’ll help you learn the language better!

                  Special features: This is the best flash card system out there. It’s been around for years, is highly optimized, cross-platform, and you can use it for things other than learning a language. It’s tried and true and that’s what counts! Check out their official website for more details.

                  Like we said earlier, there are so many benefits for your brain and memory and you’ll be able to talk and interact with a whole new culture of people. There’s nothing left to do but pick your poison, dig in, and get started. N’attendez pas commencer!

                  Featured photo credit: Meme Generator via 4.bp.blogspot.com

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                  Published on September 20, 2018

                  11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                  11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                  In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

                  Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

                  In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

                  Minimizing Tabs

                  Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

                  Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

                  Incognito Mode

                  Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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                  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
                  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
                  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

                  This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

                  Save Webpages as PDF Files

                  Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

                  Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

                  Open Recently-closed Tabs

                  Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

                  One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

                  The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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                  Solve Mathematical Problems

                  Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

                  For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

                  Play Media Files

                  Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

                  In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

                  Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

                  With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

                  Stay Focus(e)d

                  Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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                  Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

                  With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

                  This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

                  Grammarly for Editing

                  Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

                  You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

                  Loom

                  There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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                  There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

                  With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

                  Chrome Calendar Extension

                  No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

                  Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

                  Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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