“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne
In this globalized world, where mobility has become an integral part of our lives, learning a language is a great advantage. Not only does learning a new foreign language help with travelling, it is also a great benefit for studying in general and for career prospects abroad. An extra language, as research suggests, also has psychological benefits and is a great asset to the cognitive progress.
Many would even argue that bilingualism or multilingualism has become a necessity and essential skill for anyone who has to keep up with today’s rapidly increasing global economy. As more people recognize the importance of learning an extra language, those who speak only one language will get left behind in the shift towards a more integrated and connected global society.
Multilingual people can communicate and interact within various communities and potential employers consider it as a valuable asset in an employee’s skill set since they can connect to a broader range of people. Being multilingual ups one’s professional as well as personal value as one can negotiate with various manufacturers, customers, etc. who speak a different language. An ability to speak a second language is reflective of one’s motivation and drive to engage in new skills, proving that they are willing to learn. It also makes one a better candidate giving them an edge above others, most of whom would not be multilingual.
Below are mentioned some of the best apps and websites for language learning which are easy to access and would help in broadening one’s language skills just by sitting at home.
- DUOLINGO: It is a free site which is very user-friendly and teaches users languages through drills, requiring a mix of reading, writing, listening and speaking. An “immersion” section also allows the learner to read real-world articles while helping to translate them. The site also sends daily reminders to study and it can easily be done even if the person is on the go by downloading the app. Currently, the site offers lessons in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Dutch, Danish, Irish and Swedish.
- LIVEMOCHA provides lessons in more than 35 languages. Reading, speaking, listening and writing are studied separately. As premium membership isn’t free, one can earn lesson credits by tutoring other clients. The site also allows its users to book private tutors for online sessions and access virtual classes.
- Busuu offers instruction in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Polish, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. The site relies heavily on its customers to help teach each other. There are different levels of lessons but grammar-focused lessons, video units and PDF’s which are printable are only available for paid membership. Free lessons are however available on the BUSUU’S app.
- LIVING LANGUAGE offers courses in 20 languages available in a variety of lengths and costs. Apps for the iPhone and iPad offer full course content. If one does not want to pay for a course, the site’s resources section affords a variety of language-specific PDFs that are useful to anyone who is looking to build a vocabulary in a language they’ve already studied.
- MEMRISE: The site has many courses in many languages and learning is done through user-generated flash cards which facilitate better retention through the use of graphics, humor and imagination to implant new vocabulary. The site has many free courses in many languages.
- BBC Languages: The site offers comprehensive lessons in seven languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek and Chinese. The site conducts assessment tests to identify one’s level and accordingly provides resources. The most valuable component of the site is its video lessons as it is very difficult to find such offerings for free elsewhere.