Category Archives: Learning Lists

Learning Lists

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!


Interested in similar resources for learning how to code?

Learning Lists

Five Brilliant Resources for Learning How to Code, Design, and Think

When I first founded my tech startup, I did it without any technology knowledge. I’ve now firmly realized that this was a mistake—but perhaps in many ways a benefit, as I have been forced to learn the importance of coding, and design, and how it can frame one’s mind into thinking a certain rational way that will help not only with coding websites, but with how to consider and reflect on a whole host of problems, and communicate solutions to them effectively.

Here are five great resources I used along the way to help my journey along from being a total code novice to being able to understand and communicate web technology.

1-      Bentobox.IO (full repository of links to different coding schools)

Bentobox is a comprehensive walkthrough on how to learn how to code multiple languages, and the fundamentals of the web. A great starting point to see where you should start if you don’t know anything at all about coding.

2-      Hacker News (reddit-like technology subsection focused on startup enterpreneurs)

The virtual forum of the world-famous Y Combinator, I find it is a great resource for discussing with tech-minded individuals, and for seeing what’s going on in the technology space from people working on it every day. I guarantee that you’ll feel more at ease with technology and new ideas if you browse through it daily.

3-      Hack Design (emails sent to your inbox full of design goodness)

When you think design, you might think of pretty pictures fitting together in beautiful ways, but it is so much more than that. Design is really placing yourself in the shoes of someone else and ensuring they have a great experience, instead of the experience you think they should have. Design is me saying this should help you, instead of me saying this helped me. For all of that good stuff, and pretty things falling together in pretty ways, check out Hack Design’s emails.

4-      CodeAcademy (gamified version of learning how to code)

Get a handle on how to think like a coder, and how to build some projects, all while having fun! You’ll have a blast running through CodeAcademy, and it definitely will help you understand the common logic that unites most coding languages, and to get a handle on how to go about building your first projects.

5-      JQuery’s user interface documentation (simple instructions and copy+paste on how to build in cool things into your web projects)

Are you past the point where you can scurry around HTML and CSS with no pain? Wondering how to go about doing the really cool things web developers do—those datepickers, and autofill fields? Did you ace the JQuery track of CodeAcademy?

Before you go off wandering too much into Javascript land, check out the JQuery user interface. JQuery is a simplified library of code that allows you to take certain common features of a website and replicate them without knowing too much about Javascript. It takes many lines of codes in Javascript, and turns it into one word you can play around with. Playing around with it will allow you to firmly get the principles behind front-end code, and will allow you to build cool projects quickly.


Nothing beats trying to build your projects out and marshaling whatever resources you can to get that done, once you’ve finished all this. People often have a misguided notion of how hard this can be coming from a non-technical background. I graduated in business, and I can firmly tell you that I fundamentally believe that everybody can understand the basics behind the web—and that they should attempt to do so. Good luck on your journey!

PS: If you want a more-career oriented tech bootcamp that can get you into a UX design career, look no further than Springboard’s UX bootcamp.