6 best language learning tools to boost your productivity

The language learning tools invented in the last few years have really helped revolutionise the language learning community with fresh methods and techniques which make great use of modern tools and technology, to change our learning experience for the better. There’s a vast selection and picking the right one isn’t easy. Of course, it’s possible to mix and match from a couple of options but most of us may like to pick one and stick with it.

Anki, which is Japanese for ‘memorizing’, is a flash card based site which has been around since 2006. Anki focuses on recruiting your brains’ memory processes in the most efficient way possible. You select your tier of learning and the language you wish to learn and it displays cards which you have to repeat and remember, inputting your answer and receiving a progress score. A vast variety of content is available, including musical information, scientific diagrams, names and faces. It’s used for many professionals and language learners to better tune their memory of certain information. You can create custom decks of flashcards for different things you want to learn and remember and users can share their own custom decks.This custom deck feature is Anki’s strength, you can mix and match a variety of topics for a diverse learning experience.

Another flash-card style program, Memrise, focusses on using augmented memory techniques to help you commit information to memory. It has a well laid out UI and is laid out like a game, awarding points and reputation for correctly remembered answers. It has a huge number of courses for both languages and other topics, created by the site and other users. You can access all of them neatly from one page and important information is contained about the course’s length and the modules within.

Duolingo focuses on language learners. With tasks that focus on speaking, listening, translation and multiple choice quizzes, Duolingo uses a variety of methods to assist your memory and learning. Its focus on bite-size learning is effective and rewarding. It has a feature which compiles your progress into a ‘streak’ that increases as you perform more learning tasks on consecutive days. Mistakes cost you ‘lives’, which when expired, take you back to the start of the task. Using this novel method, users reportedly learn faster than on many other sites, though on the downside, Duolingo is relatively new and less complete than other sites.

Amongst apps that take a more conventional, memory based route towards helping you learn a language, Bilingua offers a unique platform which puts users from around the world in direct contact with each other. It matches users with those who are fluent in the language you want to learn, also taking into account your interests to enhance its matches. Using games to augment your learning, Bilingua’s conventional language learning tools and the innovative algorithm matched interests converge for a unique, modern and effective language learning platform. Bilingua has a language assistance bot named Shiro which suggests applicable techniques to help you and your partner learn. It’s technologically advanced, offering the most innovative partner for all language learners and the fact it puts real people in contact with each other means it helps users learn languages naturally and organically.

The paid service, ‘The Pimsleur Method’, is based on techniques established by accomplished academic Dr Paul Pimsleur. Using these techniques established in Pimsleur’s research, the Pimsleur Method uses interval based memory techniques whereby words and phrases are shown to the user at gradually increasing intervals throughout their learning programme. Pimsleur also researched how anticipation affects our memory, showing that a period of anticipation between the question and the learner’s answer reinforces the correct answer given by the language learning tool. It is expensive, at $150 or so for a single tier on its courses.

Babbel focusses on teaching language in the context of an everyday conversation. With certain areas of a language broken down into manageable chunks, users can navigate through real pieces of text and conversations. It charges $13USD a month and users can access all the courses after paying that fee. It has a voice recognition and pronunciation feature to enhance its usage for teaching language in the context of a normal conversation. The features and fully tweaked to be as convenient and effective and it has a review section, where tricky phrases and words are compiled so you can revisit them at any time.

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Originally published at Bilingua.

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