learning a languageIt’s been way too long since I’ve been out of the country, but with the Artist Retreat around the corner, I’m really getting excited. A few of the attendees (Are you one of them? Would you like to be? Contact me for more information!) asked me how to learn a language and learn it quickly.  It’s a great question. That’s why I rounded up some great language apps that will help you kick your second or third language into high gear:

Tweets: Twitter is  understated as an educational tool. Twitter allows you to learn new languages and practice them a little bit. Click here a compilation of some “linguistic twitterers”.

LiveMocha.com – Livemocha divides a language into courses, units, and lessons.  Lessons are divided into four types of activities: learn, review, write, and speak. What’s nice is that you can also make flashcards from the content in the lessons, or you can make your own flashcards.  There is even a chat feature, so you can connect with people learning the same language you are.

Babbel — If you’re looking for something that you can use on both your computer and smart phone, Babbel fits the bill. It provides exercises and courses that are interactive, and even has pronunciation training. Best of all, it’s available in 11 different languages including Italian!

MindSnacks — This is an amazing app that allows you to learn vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, & conversation skills via games and informal lessons. It also has a feature that tracks your progress so you can see how well you’re doing, and it also allows the app to change your program based on your progress.

iStart — Available in four languages (German, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese), these are great apps to really reinforce those grammar lessons.  Depending on the language you are learning, you will receive anywhere from 20-50 different lessons aimed at improving both vocabulary and grammar. Once you feel as though you know it all, you can take a quiz and see how well you’ve learned the materials.

Skype — You probably know what Skype is and haven’t really though of it as a foreign language tool. However, it absolutely is! If you know someone in a foreign country who is willing to talk with you for an hour a week, it can make a huge difference in your conversational skills. Or, you can hire a tutor who gives lessons via Skype. My friend, Claire, is a British national who lives in Belgium and gives Spanish, French, and English lessons to students all over the world this way. Talking with another person is truly the best way to learn a new language.

Google + – Along the lines of Skype, there is always Google +. Since the platform is full of early adapters, people are more willing to do a “language hangout” and explore the platform while helping you learn a language. So, it’s a WIN/WIN.

Learning another language isn’t easy, but it has gotten a lot more fun with all the apps out there!  Have you used a tools I haven’t mentioned? Which tools do you use to improve your second or third languages? We’d love to hear about it.

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