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Byword: A blog by and for the TW community

Ways of Learning New Languages with Your Device

Are you a lover of language? We are! In honor of Digital Learning Day (February 23, 2017), we’re sharing some educational tools that you can use to learn and practice new languages on your own mobile device.

Technology has made learning languages a million times easier than it was twenty — or even ten — years ago. We can immediately find translations for different languages online and translate our own words. Even real-time communication access has become multi-lingual: StreamText.Net is a streaming text platform that integrates with TypeWell, and they can now translate your live transcript into 52 different languages using Google Translate!

Join StreamText on Facebook for a live broadcast and interactive demo of their foreign language translation feature at 2pm EST on Friday, Feb 24, 2017.

StreamText.Net Screen Shot
Screenshot of StreamText.Net's demo page with foreign language translation feature enabled.

If you want to learn a new language and need a place to start, your phone or tablet are as far as you need to search. There are lots of ways we can use our devices to learn and practice:

Language learning apps

The most obvious way to use one of your devices to learn a new language is with educational apps. There are quite a few apps you can download that give you daily lessons to teach you a new language. Two excellent language learning apps you can download are:

Duolingo: Learn French, Spanish, German, Portuguese or Italian. Take interactive lessons in both vocabulary and grammar while learning basic phrases. This app is great because it will remind you to take a lesson if you haven’t used it in a while, although at the moment there isn’t a tablet version available. But, despite that, it’s free!

Rosetta: This is a highly intensive and thorough language learning app that is structured like an official course. Work your way through different lessons, starting with picture-based vocabulary and working your way up to full phrases. The speech recognition feature also allows you to improve your pronunciation. While not cheap, it is one of the most effective language learning apps you’ll find.

Tablet In Hand

Podcasts and audiobooks

Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn languages with your devices as well as practice the languages you’re learning. While you can download podcasts and audiobooks that are specifically designed to teach you a language (many of which are free) you can also listen to books and news in other languages to help you to practice your understanding of the language you’re learning. 

The best way to learn a language is to test it with real conversation, and listening to radio shows and foreign literature is a great way to harness your new skill. For instance, if you’re looking to learn French one highly recommended podcast is One Thing in a French Day, which consists of short snippets into the life of a French woman. You can learn about all of the subtle nuances of the French language and get some very useful everyday vocabulary. It’s a really charming and relaxing listen.

Eiffel Tower

If you feel like you want to move to France after learning the language, you can use Imove International for international removals to France.

Use Skype

There are more than a few online programs that you can access that will connect you to another person via Skype so you can learn and practice a new language. The idea is for you to teach this person your language while they teach you their language. You both communicate in the language you’re trying to learn and sooner or later you’ll both be fluent. Some examples are italki, which connects you with different language teachers around the world, and HelloTalk, which connects you to other students who want to learn your language.


NOTE: Even though we think learning new languages is awesome, we still don’t condone the use of TypeWell transcription to provide communication access in foreign language classes. The TypeWell software dictionary is, after all, an English dictionary. But perhaps that’s a blog post for another day.... if topics like this interest you, then become a guest contributor!

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Edited by Kate Ervin

Kate became a TypeWell transcriber in 2004 and began training new transcribers in 2009. She has served as TypeWell's Executive Director since 2011.

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