Six Valuable Resources for Learning and Practicing Languages

Up in frosty Montreal, there’s often a need to learn different languages as it is quite a diverse city, and also a need to stay inside, as it is quite a cold city. Teasing out ways to learn languages while not freezing, using technology and the power of the internet, has been a very useful exercise for me. Here are some of the valuable resources I’ve found along the way. 

1–      Babbel

I’ve always found Babbel’s mobile application to be ideally balanced, as the levels are not as long as other language applications, and the method of answering by point, and click, is simpler which makes it an ideal travel companion, and a way to practice a language without dedicating too much active effort to it. Do a download of the mobile application for your phone or your tablet, and try it out. Very useful for those constantly on the run.

2–      FluentU

Have you ever stopped to think that if only Game of Thrones were produced in Mandarin, you’d be a lot further along in learning Mandarin? They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and FluentU hits that niche nicely. By taking real-life videos that are entertaining in other languages, overlaying subtitles and the meanings of the language behind it, and then quizzing you on what you just watched, FluentU is a new technology startup that manages to build quite a compelling and immersive experience for you to have fun watching your favorite K-Pop videos while learning a language.

3–      HackingChinese

The title itself is enough to fall in love with. This blog has a ton of resources on how to attack learning Mandarin, and consequently, a bunch of other languages. Instead of focusing on rote memorization of one language, it focuses on the process of learning language, a crucial distinction that makes it incredibly useful. It’s well-written, substantive, and a very valuable resource.

4–      Linguee

Ever felt you were a little too expressive for Google Translate? Linguee is your solution. Its’ sheer genius is that it will take your query, then crawl through the work of professional translators on legitimate sources such as government websites that must translate across several languages for their people, to return a result for you. You can put in jargon-laden terms or even sentences, and see how the best translators would have tackled those tricky translations. It’s the only site I’ve ever gone to where I could make sense out of my random economics rants about externalities in another language—for that I will forever love Linguee, and in time, you will too.

5–      Italki

I don’t think there’s any language learning experience more immersive than talking, and connecting with someone in their native tongue. Having coffee with someone who speaks the language you want to learn is pure gold in terms of learning languages. Italki finds people around the world for you to do this with online, and makes it awesomely easier for you to connect with people around the world who are looking to learn languages just like you.

6–      Duolingo

When you clicked on the link, did you think Duolingo would be front and center? Yes, Duolingo is great, but it’s very well-known compared to some of the other resources above, and it’s good to shine the spotlight on other resources. However, I’d be remiss not to point out the gamified service where I am refining my French and learning Spanish. Its’ desktop web platform is very hard to beat in terms of a complete interactive experience learning languages.

There you go, you have no excuses now. Go forth, and start learning how to connect with people around the world. You’re only a couple of button clicks away from starting, as I was months ago. Bon voyage!


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The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at