How to hack language learning

Updated: 17 November, 2019 08:44 IST | Jaison Lewis | Mumbai

You can now use technology to help you learn almost any language from Spanish to Swahili to High Valyrian

Imaging/ Uday Mohite
Imaging/ Uday Mohite

The Internet has made it easier for us to connect with people around the world. However, not all of us speak the same language. This makes it difficult to communicate. You could learn the language you need to by paying for a class, giving tests over a period of months or you can use tech
to hack the speed at which you can learn.



TripLingo is a language app focussed on travel. The languages are divided according to the place you wish to visit. Once selected, it will teach you everything you need to know about the culture, language, phrases and safety tips. The app also has a voice translator that you can use to change your voice to the target language, and an image translator that will convert text from a picture.


Beelinguapp lets users learn a language by exploring music, news and stories in other languages. The app presents users with the text in the language you understand and the language you want to learn. The text is further broken down to show you the meaning along with the audio. The free version is restricted to a few story books. You can purchase a yearly subscription for R1,150 that will give you access to the music section and news, along with a glossary of translated words and a Flashcard game.


Duolingo is perhaps one of the best language teaching apps out there. The app blends audio visual learning with quizzes, scores and points that motivate you to learn. The app has over 30 languages, including a few fictional ones derived from TV shows such as High Valyrian and Klingon. It works on both a web browser and your phone, with your results reflecting on both devices as long as the login is the same.


If you are looking for a more fun way to learn languages and quizzes and points aren’t cutting it, then try LyricsTraining. This app links songs in other languages and adds a missing lyrics to game on top of it. The lyrics game is meant to familiarise you with speaking in any language from their list of eight, by improving your skill to listen and understand what is being said.


While most apps on this list will want you to finish everything as fast as you can, Easy10 on the other hand tries to slow things down by giving you only 10
words to learn at a time. It makes sure that you know both the pronunciation and meaning. The slow pace means you can familiarise yourself with the language. The app features six languages, however, only Spanish is free, the rest incur a R893 charge.


Innovative language learning

Innovative language learning covers a huge range of languages with native speakers teaching you everything from simple everyday phrases to complex sentences meant to impress your friends. The languages have all been given their own channel and website.

Language learning with Netflix

This is a nice little tool that can be installed with your Google Chrome browser. Once installed it can use native subtitles in foreign films to teach you what they are saying, complete with a breakdown of the subtitle and the meaning. You will need a Netflix account and it only works on Chrome browser.

Woodpecker — Language Learning

Woodpecker has a huge library of shows in native languages that are subtitled with detailed meanings and pronunciations. The application also lets you use its translation library, while browsing the Web as well. The shows are listed according to genre so you can watch a comedy or a how-to or even music videos to learn. The downside is that the app only supports Mandarin, French and Spanish for English speaking users.


BBC Languages

While it is no longer maintained, BBC Languages is a very neat resource for learning close to 40 languages, with courses, phrases, audio, video and tests—all for free. You can also learn languages like Cornish, Scottish Gaelic and Irish on the site.


WaitChatter is a Chrome plug-in that attaches itself to your Google instant messenger and detects when you are waiting for someone to respond. While you wait, the plug-in throws up new words, meanings and challenges from the language you want to learn.


This site lets you learn languages in a conversational style with a variety of quizzes and tests meant to reiterate the phrases and their meanings till they are part of your vocabulary. The site is very interactive and is also suitable for younger children looking to learn a new language.


Busuu lets you learn and practice phrases in different languages. The levels vary. If you are just visiting, then Busuu will teach you just a few phrases you might need for interaction. If you want to be able to watch movies and interact with locals then the lessons get more in depth.

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First Published: 17 November, 2019 07:50 IST

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