So I’m really getting into the swing of things with regards to learning languages again! It’s really exciting. I’m even using my spare time wisely, and during my down time at night I am now writing in my language learning log.
How I’m learning languages now
As I’ve been getting back into the groove of learning my target languages (French, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog), I’ve trying to follow the strategy as outlined by Gabriel Wyner of Fluent Forever. I’ve tried other methods in the past, like going to language classes (like Alliance Francaise for French), private face-to-face tutoring (like going to a local Filipino teacher), and even trying out parallel texts and haphazardly listening to foreign language music and watching movies.
With the Fluent Forever method, it’s actually quite nice to have a very clear and direct approach, as there are some other books that are a bit more general in how they suggest for you to learn languages. I can’t say for sure whether Fluent FOrever works, and if I’ll gain my language skills back and learn faster, but we’ll soon see.
The 4 Online Resources that’s Helping me Learn Languages
With that in mind I’m currently using the following 4 online language learning resources:
I’ve downloaded the software and it’s pretty good. It can be a little confusing at first as it can be hard to navigate and seem complicated. The software you download from online is actually a little outdated n terms of the interface. They also have AnkiWeb which is a cloud based version of Anki, but I’m not really using it as it’s clunky. I really wish the iPhone app was free but it’s not!
So far I’m using the Anki software for creating flashcard decks of the top 650 words or so in each language.
A major downside as well is that it is taking a while to create these decks! But I must say it is very personalised (since I’m doing them).
Since Anki was paid and quite pricey for my liking, I’m using Memrise on my iPhone for now. The interface is way cooler than Anki.
A major downside is the fact that it uses English as a translation for each of the target words. I would have preferred if they didn’t have the English translations for words. Similar to Wyner’s view, I also think that having an English translation can get in the way of learning the target language faster. I would have preferred a picture of a house than the word “house” in English, so that I can associate the word CASA (for spanish) or BAHAY (for tagalog) with the image.
3. Google: Google Translate & Google Images
Google translate is just a very quick way to translate some of the top frequency words from English to the target languages, so that I can put them in my Anki deck.
Google Images is great for finding visual representations of words that I’m learning in my target language. Some challenges do arise though when ther word refers to something intangible or the image can have multiple words for it. For example, the image of a girl could be seen as a “child”, “girl”, “daughter”, and if she’s doing an action in the picture, you may get confused and think that the image refers to the action. So it’s been pretty tricky choosing the right image.
Forvo has been a great way to hear the proper pronunciations for words. I was learning the word mouse in Spanish, which is raton. In my English brain, my pronunciation of r was very rigid in my mind. Once I listened to the pronunciation of raton from a Spanish speaker, I could hear the distinct rolling of the tongue for the “r”. Then I could imitate it. Without hearing this, I would have mispronounced it.
Downloading the mp3s and then attaching them to your Anki flashcards is a great way to remember those pronunciations.