Have you been thinking about the best ways to learn a language from home lately? With all Diplomatic Language Services classes now online, language instruction and learning are being done remotely, at home. With many public places closed and social gatherings canceled, you may be looking for ways to enrich your language learning from the comfort of your own home. Luckily, the ways to do this are certainly plentiful.
None of the resources described can (or should) be substituted for the comprehensive, personalized language training class you’ll receive from DLS. However, it’s likely that the nature of your language courses has drastically changed and supplemental learning tools never hurt! Think about all the extra time you have now that you aren’t commuting every day! Read on to learn about language training resources to help you continue your language education while still keeping your social distance.
Apps & Platforms
There is no shortage of online resources you can use to enhance your language learning. Many of these platforms can be accessed for free and give users the option to upgrade to premium, paid content.
Babbel provides a variety of activities, designed to help you in real-life situations. Choose from reading, writing, speaking, and listening modules to focus on your topic of choice. Topics range from business to food, and more. Babbel offers free registration and the first lesson in every course is free to try. According to their website, there could be between 30-80 free lessons, depending on which language you choose. For full access to Babbel courses, users need to purchase a premium subscription.
Busuu offers practice on vocabulary and grammar with interactive exercises and a feature that allows users to receive feedback on writing and pronunciation from native speakers. To access language courses on Busuu, you must register for a free account. Then, you can access the basic version of Busuu free of charge. For access to additional features such as grammar units and certificates, there is an option to upgrade to a paid premium membership.
CultureReady Basics is an interactive web-based platform offering target language-focused courses centered around the DoD’s Adaptive Readiness for Culture (ARC) model. This platform combines 3C Cross Cultural Competencies with culture-specific knowledge, and a language assist feature designed to help students achieve an ILR proficiency level of 2+/3. This course is free online and open source. To learn more about CultureReady Basics, check out this DLS blog post!
With both an app and desktop platform, Duolingo is one of the most popular free tools for language learning. Work your way through various modules and exercises in your target language and receive points and rewards for correct answers and improvement. It is free to sign up and use Duolingo, but a paid premium subscription (Duolingo Plus) eliminates all ads with access for offline lessons.
Part language-learning app, part social networking tool, the HiNative app allows language learners to ask questions about a specific language and get answers from native speakers. Using HiNative and asking questions is completely free, but there is a premium subscription available with additional features such as search and bookmark capabilities and no ads. To learn more about HiNative, check out this DLS blog post!
As a reference tool, the Defense Language Institute’s Foreign Language Center provides Language Survival Kits (LSKs), which include modules compiled of text, audios, and translations for thousands of topic-based mission-related phrases. Each “LSK” includes categorized Guides, ranging in topic from “Public Affairs Language Guide” to “Weapons Language Guide”. These are completely free to access and use.
Lingvist uses spaced repetition and flashcards to help users build vocabulary in a quick, effective way. This app offers a brief free trial with unlimited access to its features. After the trial ends, you’ll hit a paywall and can choose between three recurring subscription plans.
Through the use of listening and reading activities, Mango simulates in-country language training and adapts to users’ unique learning styles. The platform offers critical-thinking and memory-building exercises, as well as grammar and culture notes. You can find Mango for free through thousands of public libraries, schools, and other organizations. If you are unable to access a free version, there are subscription options for purchase. Notably, each subscription plan includes a two-week free trial during which you can cancel and avoid the charge.
Memrise uses audio and images to help users learn a language with word association and recall. View video clips of native speakers and use a variety of games to build your confidence with your language of choice. Registering for and using Memrise is completely free, but you need a subscription to access all courses and features.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the platforms out there to enhance your language learning experience. Perhaps you have a favorite platform that wasn’t even mentioned here. If so, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your online language tool of choice or to let us know your thoughts about one of the tools above.