Tools I Recommend

These are not sponsored or affiliated links. These are only resources that I have found immeasurably helpful in my own language studies.

Anki

I cannot say enough about Anki. When I first read about it, I thought, OK, that’s nice, we’ll see how it turns out. It turns out that I love it. Anki is a free smartphone/desktop flashcard app. The beauty of it is that you can add multimedia to the cards, so you can use pictures, or actually hear new words as they’re supposed to be pronounced. It also uses cloud technology, so you can do all the hard, tedious work of adding new words and soundfiles and pictures on your real computer, and then have the cards with you and ready to review while you’re out and about.

So that’s all neat and shiny, but the really effective thing about Anki isn’t the bells and whistles, but the simple fact that it uses spaced repetition to ensure that you build new concepts first into your short-term memory, then into your long-term. It does this automatically; all you have to do is input the information you want to learn.

AnkiDroid is free. The Anki iPhone app is $24.99, which is a little steep for an app, but it is worth every penny. The good news is that the Anki software for Macs is free, so you can still review at your computer. It’s also supported in Windows and Linux.

 

Forvo.com

Forvo.com is an online pronunciation dictionary. If you encounter a new word in your reading or vocabulary list, and don’t know how to pronounce it, you can look it up on Forvo.com. If you create an account (which is easy and free to do), you can also download the .mp3 recording for your own purposes: attach them to a flashcard in Anki, or just create a playlist of this chapter’s target vocabulary, or something else entirely. It’s up to you!

 

Tatoeba.org

Tatoeba is a gold mine of natural, idiomatic expressions in a staggering variety of languages. You can use the material here to build your own Anki deck or just check the usage of specific words.

 

Clozemaster

Clozemaster uses the wealth of information available on Tatoeba as the basis for its spaced repetition-based cloze (fill-in-the-blanks) exercises. You can use it for free on the web or on your smartphone. Upgrading to a Clozemaster pro account unlocks a host of useful features, but even the free version is a powerful tool.

 

Lang-8.com

I may be biased because of my background, but I think writing in a new language is an essential part of making that language your own and improving mastery across the board. I absolutely assign written homework as part of my lessons, but if we meet just once or twice a week, I can only assign and provide feedback on so much. Not to mention it can be embarrassing or intimidating to have me sit there, right in your space, judging your writing. (Even though I don’t judge, I know it can feel like that!) Lang-8.com fills in the gaps by presenting your writing to a nameless, faceless ocean of native speakers. All you have to do is correct writing in your native language.

The downside of Lang-8.com is that you can get confusing or even conflicting feedback—not even native speakers have a total grasp of the trickier grammatical nuances of their own language, after all; or the explanation they give may be in complicated, high-level language—but even so you’ll begin to see patterns emerge. And if you’re still confused over a particular correction or word choice, that’s why I’m here!