DLS shares language-specific apps and online tools
07.30.2020

Language-Specific Apps and Online Tools

Language-specific apps and online tools can be of significant benefit to mastering a new language.  However, we know how overwhelming it can be to navigate through all of the options available. Where do you start?!

Building off of our general language apps and online tools blog post, we wanted to now share apps and online resources that hone in on one language. Of course, online tools and apps cannot replace comprehensive language training, but they are great for supplemental practice. Read on to see some of our favorites outlined by DLS language experts!

Arabic Language Apps:

Name

Khallina

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading, listening, writing, speaking, vocabulary, and culture
  • ILR 1 – 3+
Pros
  • Formatted for group work or classroom lessons, but can be adapted for individual learners
  • Beginner level features strong English scaffolding with more Arabic as lesson progresses
  • Flashcards are part of each lesson
  • Wide variety of activities and topics
  • Focuses on cultural elements and features authentic materials
  • Each lesson contains many links and ideas for continued learning once lesson is completed
  • Web-only, multi-device display unclear
Cons
  • Limited number of lessons (small number at each level)
  • Leveling is beginner, intermediate, advanced, not tied to ILR, etc.
  • Formatted for group work or classroom lessons, but can be adapted for individual learners
  • Need for paper or other supplies and self-driven activities not based on the website might be difficult for individuals who are not strong self-motivators

Name

Talk in Arabic

Subscription

$12.95/month

Focus
  • Reading, listening, writing, speaking, vocabulary, and culture
  • ILR 1 – 3+ (estimate)
Pros
  • Offers eight different varieties of Arabic (Egyptian, Levantine, Iraqi, Sudanese, Tunisian, Saudi, Algerian, and Moroccan)
  • Offers colloquial Arabic
  • Includes video and audio content, with subtitles and transcripts
  • New content added weekly
  • Three different levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced
Cons
  • Lessons are random and do not necessarily build on each other
  • Some dialects have less content than others

Chinese Language Apps

Name

The Chairman’s Bao

Subscription

$10/month, cheaper longer plans available

Focus
  • Reading, listening, and vocabulary
  • Lessons at a variety of levels
Pros
  • Based on authentic materials like news
  • Can download audio, bookmark lessons
  • Optional: pinyin, traditional vs. simplified supported throughout lesson (toggle back and forth)
  • Multi-device; website, apps for Apple and android
  • Multiple lessons added per week at different levels
  • Built-in English/Chinese dictionary
Cons
  • Lessons are pretty short, not a ton of activities (but good jumping off point)
  • Lessons are leveled using HSK, which not all users may be familiar with at first

Name

Chinese Reading Practice

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading and vocabulary
  • ILR 1 – 3 (estimate)
Pros
  • Largely text-oriented (no audio), focuses on reading with some light vocab explanation
  • Provides pinyin and English translation for all texts
  • Updates each level once per week
  • Web-only (multi-device display unclear)
Cons
  • Only in simplified
  • Leveling somewhat unclear (beginner/intermediate/advanced categories, not tied to ILR, etc.)
  • Advanced level still contains a high amount of exposition in English
  • Exposition is provided before the text, which may or may not be desirable depending on level/user

Name

Hello Chinese

Subscription
  • Free
  • Reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary
Target user

ILR 0 – 1+ (estimate)

Pros
  • Game-based app
  • Fun, easy
  • Vocabulary introduced through pictures (rather than translation)
  • Includes option to learn to write characters (teaches stroke order)
Cons
  • Only good for low levels

Name

China in Depth, Brown University

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary
  • ILR 3 and higher
Pros

Contains supplementary videos, language exercises, and reading materials to the Better Chinese textbook, which can be purchased separately.

Cons

None


Spanish Language Apps

Name

Lupa

Subscription

$10/month

Focus
  • Listening, reading, and vocabulary
  • Best-suited for level 2 and above
Pros
  • Self-study app that uses stories from NPR’s Radio Ambulante.
  • Allows you to slow down audio and provides key words
  • Allows you to save a personalized vocabulary list
  • Has the option of translation
Cons
  • Only provides new stories once a week (on Thursdays)

Name

123TeachMe

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading, listening, and vocabulary
  • ILR 0+ – 2 (estimate)
Pros
  • Good for lower-level learners
  • Emphasis on vocabulary, basic verb conjugation, etc.
  • Website easy for beginners to use because it’s in English
Cons
  • A lower-level resource, so not idea for many intermediate to advanced learners
  • Most of the website itself is in English

Name

Conjuguemos

Subscription

Free for students, $45/month for instructors

Focus
  • Listening, reading, grammar, and vocabulary
  • ILR 0+ – 2 (estimate)
Pros
  • Contains vocabulary (flashcards, games), sections that are from commonly used Spanish textbooks, extensive grammar (particularly a whole section on verbs), and listening activities
  • Website is easy to navigate (in English)
  • Can purchase teacher accounts which contain some lesson ideas
Cons
  • Most of the website itself is in English
  • Apart from some more advanced grammar/verb tenses, most materials are relatively low-level (not very advanced)

Name

FORMESPA

Subscription

Focus
  • Listening, reading, speaking, and writing
  • ILR 0+ – 2
Pros
  • Lessons centered around audio or video, with corresponding pdf activity sheets (may be good for instructors/group work)
  • Good for lower level learners
Cons
  • No materials for more advanced learners
  • PDF-based lessons may be difficult for individual learners to stay motivated on

Name

Señor Jordan

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Listening, grammar, vocabulary, and verb tenses
  • ILR 0+ – 2 (estimate)
Pros
  • YouTube videos focused on vocabulary and grammar points
  • Good for learners looking to refresh/practice grammar or vocab elements
Cons
  • Engagement is all video based, which may not be as effective for some learners

French Language Apps

Name

You Learn French

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Vocabulary
  • ILR 0 – 0+
Pros
  • Provides lists of relevant vocabulary terms presented as YouTube videos
  • Vocabulary lists could potentially be useful to members beyond ILR level 0+, depending on lesson topic
Cons
  • Difficulty locating particular vocabulary terms within videos/finding the right video to support learning
  • Only teaches vocabulary; no real grammar, speaking, or reading skills
  • No activities or other reinforcement

Name

Le Point du FLE

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Largely listening, with some vocabulary and a small amount of grammar/writing
  • ILR 1 – 3 (estimate)
Pros
  • Lessons centered around videos (unclear if authentic or contrived materials, native speakers)
  • Good for listening and vocabulary practice
  • Most videos are not slowed down; at native speaker pace
  • Closed captions are available for videos (accessibility and scaffolding)
Cons
  • Most activities are listening-based
  • Activity types are not widely varied
  • Minimal feedback

Name

1jour1actu

Subscription

Free, subscription to extras €5.95/month

Focus
  • Reading, listening
  • ILR 1 – 2/3 (estimate)
Pros
  • Provides access to news articles, podcasts, and videos in relatively simple French (explained for children)
  • New materials are added regularly based on current events
Cons
  • Aimed at children
  • No activities to support materials
  • Materials are created by the website, but are authentic within that context (aimed at native French children)

Name

RFI

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading and listening
  • ILR 2 – 3 (estimate)
Pros
  • Updated multiple times daily
  • News source online
  • Provides news articles, podcasts, and videos on a wide variety of topics relating to the world and more region-specific.
  • Authentic news articles aimed at native French speakers
Cons
  • News articles; does not have any support from activities

Name

Enseigner le Français avec TV5

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Reading, listening, speaking, and writing
  • ILR 1 – 3 (estimate)
Pros
  • Appears to update regularly
  • Contains hundreds of lessons on different topics and levels
  • Provides lesson plans to go with authentic material videos, many activities are good for classrooms/groups
Cons
  • Limited number of topics at higher levels. Most lessons around ILR 2.
  • Uses different system from ILR to level lessons
  • Lesson plan formatting of activities may be difficult for individuals or require a lot of self-driven work (hard for individual learners)

Name

French Teacher Resources

Subscription

Free

Focus
  • Vocabulary and speaking
  • ILR 0+ – 1 (estimate)
Pros
  • Lower level with basic resources
  • Most lessons are PowerPoints, meant for classroom use with associated worksheets
Cons
  • Resources are very low level and may not be useful for learners beyond beginner level
  • Activities are relatively minimal (worksheets)

If your target language happens to be listed within this post, give the apps a try! We hope you find some help within these resources. Do you have favorite language-specific apps that weren’t mentioned here? If so, reach out to us at marketing@dlsdc.com to share your online language tool of choice or to let us know your thoughts about one of the tools above.

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