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Language hacking links

| 22 comments | Category: Tool and Resources

One month ago I started the Language Hacking League (LHL) e-mail list, and I am really pleased with how it has evolved!

Every Monday I send out an e-mail with a language hacking tip, links to the Internet’s best free resources for language learning and then I end by asking the league a question. E-mails also include behind the scenes updates from the fluent in 3 month project and advanced news on upcoming language missions, and on the Language Hacking Guide.

The responses and feedback I’ve been getting have been incredible from the almost 400 people who have signed up so far. If you’d like to join us, just fill in your name and e-mail on the right – you can unsubscribe at any time of course! People’s responses have been fantastic and usually inspire the links and language hacking tips in later LHL e-mails.

So today, for those of you who haven’t joined yet, I thought I’d share some of the LHL‘s favourite links so far. The Internet is full of some amazing resources, so this is just a small sampling that I’ll be constantly adding to in the e-mails.

The best links for free language courses

I’ll start by going overboard and give you a whole 175 links:

100 free foreign language classes online & 75 free language learning resources online

These two lists were exhaustively researched by the authors to gather the best free resources for language learners online – it’s true that quite a few of them appear in both, but I’m sure you’ll find something for whatever language(s) you are studying here! Let me know what your favourite links are!!

Ideas for mnemonics

Over the next weeks, I’m attempting several interesting techniques to try to quickly improve my scope of vocabulary, which I’ll be writing about in more detail later. But up until now, image association has been extremely effective for me to rapidly and efficiently learn new vocabulary. One problem a lot of people have when they try this is that they are not used to creating interesting associations.

That’s where Memorista comes in!! This site does the work for you by giving you already prepared associations (image and sounds-like) for particular basic vocabulary (in French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish). Some of them are very clever and will burn a particular word into your mind for good if you really imagine it, and give you great ideas for what to do on your own :) There aren’t a huge amount of examples, but it will certainly get you started on remembering the basics and give you ideas for how you could do it yourself!

Have a native say it for you!

If you’ve ever needed to hear what a particular sentence sounds like, it can be a bit of a problem; even phonetic languages can have their ways of catching you out, and you might not be sure about one exception. There are loads of cases where you just need to hear a native say a particular sentence, and if that’s the case for you, then definitely check out this site:   Rhinospike

To test it out I requested a German tongue twister that I’ve been challenged to pronounce (apparently some people have told me this will be my “true” test of speaking German with no accent :P ) and a native pronounced it for me!! I’ve also seen short texts (introduction speeches, or even short romantic poems) recorded that would clearly have been useful to the requester.

The time it takes to get a response back depends on whether you contribute your own native readings of texts for others. It’s a fantastic idea since it encourages you to help others and others will help you quickly too. All you need is a microphone and speaker, and a completely free account on the Rhinospike site.

Continuing from this, there is another site that is extremely useful when you want to know how a particular word is pronounced:   Forvo

In this case, just having a (free) account is enough and you can hear the word you are looking for immediately. Of course, you can contribute by recording words and phrases that others have requested in your own language. I thought of a few tricky words in several languages and they were all already there and pronounced very clearly!

Free instant text correction from natives

I’ve talked a lot about speaking languages on this site, and not so much about writing them. Well, the same rules apply! I personally don’t believe you should study for years until you are “ready” before ever trying. You need to write soon, make mistakes and see where your problems are.

The only problem is, when you write something, there may be no natives around to correct you, especially if you are still in your home country. Well of course, the Internet comes to our rescue! Check out: http://lang-8.com/

Similar to other sites above, you sign up for free, ask for help, and give help with your native language. I tried it out with a short e-mail that I wanted to write in German and I got a response within an hour with corrections and even a helpful comment! This site is definitely worth checking out for those of you who are interested in improving your writing skills!! You can bet that I’ll be using it a lot when preparing for my C2 exam.

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Of course, the e-mails also include an unconventional language hacking tip every time, based on what I’ve picked up over the last 7 years. Have I given enough of a sales pitch for the LHL yet? Go join it!

If you are already a member, let us know if you’ve been enjoying it! Did you check out any of the links above and find them particularly useful? Any links that I haven’t written in the e-mails yet that absolutely must be shared with language hackers? Let us know in the comments :)

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If you enjoyed this post, you will love my TEDx talk! You can get much better details of how I recommend learning a language if you watch it here.

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Comments: If you liked this post or have anything to say, please leave a comment! I love reading them :)
Just keep in mind that I’ll delete any rude, trolling, spammy, irrelevant or way off-topic comments. Also, use your REAL name, not a brand or business one, and don’t link to your site in the comments unless it’s relevant to this post.
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  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ GlobalButterfly

    Wow, what an incredible list of rich resources. I'm checking them all out now, thanks dear!

  • Nicole

    Danke Benny! Ausgezeichnet wie immer :) Tatsächlich versuche ich im Moment mein Wortschatz zu verbessern. Heute habe ich eine neue Freundin kennengelernt und fast nur deutsch gesprochen :D Ich hoffe, dass alles gut bei dir in Berlin geht.

  • ielanguages

    Shameless plug for my own site since it is completely free and no one else seems to want to teach slang or how people actually talk: http://www.ielanguages.com

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    I definitely plan on giving your site special mention in both the e-mail and on this site. It's high class language hacking material (you can see me linking to you in twitter this very evening). Definitely haven't seen anything as good out there for actual spoken language. [This post was just for links that I have already mentioned in the LHL]

    Don't worry, link love is coming your way! ;)

  • ielanguages

    Thanks Benny! I appreciate the link love!

  • Quokka

    Hey, I have just bookmarked your website. It looks very promising.
    @ Benny:
    Thank you especially for recommending lang-8. I was looking for something like this a few days ago.

  • Annette

    Another one I liked from the e-mails was this one: http://www.myhappyplanet.com I've signed up on there and I've had several e-mails from people who speak my target languages. This site is good for practicing both writing and speaking because a lot of the people want to use Skype or other voice chat to practice.

    Yes, these links you have been sharing are invaluable. I shared my favorites with my Italian 'meetup' group yesterday… a group, might I add, that I wouldn't have found if it weren't for reading a post in which you mentioned checking out meetup.com. Anyway, the people I told about these links love them. And don't worry, I also didn't forget to give them a link to your blog ;)

    A lot of my inspiration, drive, and resources for learning have been coming from you lately. So thank you!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Aww, thanks Annette!! If you are sharing my blog with people then I'm ever grateful and the universe is in balance for my favour to you with the meetup link :D
    Thanks a million, glad I've been inspiring you to dive into your language learning task :)

  • http://www.wordstash.com David

    Another free online resource is http://www.wordstash.com. It combines a dictionary with an automated flash card type layout and provides you with tools to learn vocabulary.

  • http://memorista.com Francis O'Reilly

    Thanks Benny for the great plug for Memorista !

  • Dean

    Great post as always Benny! Some really great links in there! =]

    Another great site is http://www.byki.com/

    It's a downloadable flashcard-style program which is very handy. I use it mainly just for learning vocabulary lists quickly and easily.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    More than welcome! Any plans to expand on it? I hope to see more there ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    I am using the byki flashcard ap on my iPhone and I'm finding it very handy! I'll have to check out the website at some stage, thanks for mentioning it!

  • http://twitter.com/internaciulo sentaugulo

    Salut Benny, tes liens ont l'air super intéressants.
    J'aime particulièrement le site qui permet d'apprendre une langue en chantant.
    Je vais essayer de faire une chanson en espagnol par jour pendant un mois
    on va voir si ça marche ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Merci pour les RTs ;)

  • http://blog.tatoeba.org/ Trang

    Here is another link: http://tatoeba.org (Tatoeba project). If you love languages, this is for you! :P

    It's a project which aims to collect lots of sentences translated into lots of languages. You can consider it as a multilingual “dictionary of sentences” (or phrasebook, if you prefer). There are currently more than 360,000 sentences and there is support for almost 40 languages (you can get more detailed stats on the homepage). It hasn't reached yet the point where it is *really* useful for languages learners but it's on the right tracks, and it's evolving very quickly.

    Also, the project cultivates a very “open & free” culture, in the sense that everyone can contribute (by adding/correcting/translating sentences), the code source is open source (AGPL license), and the sentences are redistributed under the CC-BY license (Creative Commons Attribution) so that other people can reuse them in other language related projects or applications.

    I can only encourage people to come and participate :) Not only because I initiated that project, but because I really, deeply believe it can become an awesome language tool.

  • jimmy

    your site is brilliant one of the few sites where i can learn the stuff that i hear when i'm in france with my in-laws! thanks very much!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    No LHG falei sobre como vc pode encontrar pessoas e simplesmente falar com eles – também se o seu nível é ruim. A solução não está em nenhum curso!!! Tem que falar com seres humanos :) Também em São Luiz Gonzaga vai achar eles ;) (Ou pelo menos por Skype)

    Eu não vendo nenhum curso de inglês. Procura pessoas!! No Guia para hackear línguas (a versão FULL tem tradução em português) expliquei isso. Qualquer livro que vc acha na biblioteca vai te ensinar a gramática etc. – qual vc escolha não tem importância! A gramática é sempre da mesma língua, né? ;)

  • BakoymaTravels

    Thanks for the tips, Benny. You’ve inspired me to take up my French again, I’m using Duolingo quite extensively now, after trying a few sites out.

    You’re an inspiration, man, keep it up :-)

  • Mark F

    Great site Benny! Keep up the great work – I’m more inspired than ever to get fluent in French and Italian.

  • Mark F

    Great site Benny! Keep up the great work – I’m more inspired than ever to get fluent in French and Italian.