There are many competing language learning systems out there, but due to many requests from Fi3M readers, today I am going to review Language Ninja, a promising newcomer that looks like it's going to overtake the rest!
While I highly recommend you check out their site, and click to see what's on offer in their Language Versions to find out if it's within your budget, as with all my other reviews (Rosetta Stone, Livemocha/Busuu, Pimsleur etc.) I want to give a fair and balanced overview today of its pros and cons so that you can decide for yourself if this interesting and unique language learning system is for you.
What makes it stand out: The most personal language learning system available!
A major problem that I have with most expensive software or audio courses that try to teach you a language, is that they attempt to cram you full of vocabulary out of context, or present you with silly sentences like “the blue ball is under the table” that you are not likely to say any time soon.
What I found incredible about Language Ninja is that the first time I used it, rather than get a dialogue of buying a train ticket for instance, it asked me what my name was first, then how am I, and then Why are you learning this language?
It's weird when you think about it, but that question is indeed among the first ones you tend to be asked in real situations on meeting natives as you are in the learning stages, and yet it's almost never brought up early in most language courses. Surely the system you use to get “ready” for the many conversations you plan to have should implement questions that you are much more likely to use with people into its dialogue database as well?
Most language learning systems are simply not realistic enough, but Language Ninja gives you real world conversations that you are definitely likely to face, based on your own preferences and background. This is by far the best practice possible to ensure you improve your language skills quickly.
The biggest problem with so many courses is how generic they are and how they try to teach the same content to absolutely everyone. Language Ninja is by far the most flexible system I've ever come across, tailoring to the specific types of conversations that you typically have.
Incredible host of features and advanced learning algorithm
All the features of the system are listed on their site, so I won't repeat them here, but I will say that I'm really impressed by the scope and versatility of what's included!
The creators of Language Ninja, a man and woman team who have poured endless hours into improving upon it over many years, have personally ensured through processing terabytes of TV shows, newspapers, comics, real in-the-field dialogues etc. to “educate” the program, that only genuine native content is used in the system.
Depending on the version you use, in some cases the content was created using a tool they lovingly call bro-mablague because it implements a “bro” feature of using sibling algorithms to search out experiences that the system emulates on its own (or more typically, with other versions of the software) before you use it. It's really fascinating, and you can even ask the system itself about this bro algorithm (if your version includes it)! Believe it or not, it's one of the first topics of conversation that typically come up!
Disadvantage: way more work involved and absolutely cannot be used just by itself
While I do love this system, and will definitely be using it for future languages that I'll be learning, I've found that it is far from perfect and absolutely cannot be used standalone.
For instance, the “input” aspect of language learning, to get the vocabulary you need (through Anki flashcards, or on Memrise or by studying a phrasebook and using your own image association techniques to remember the words) is much slower with Language Ninja.
You are presented words in context which are spoken by a very real sounding voice, which is great, but the system doesn't include any built-in note taker or spaced repetition system. It just feels awkward to take out a pen and paper while using Language Ninja to make notes of new words, as you are better keeping your focus on maintaining the conversation simulation at this time. Because of this, if you were to only use this system, you'd forget words too easily, and not be ready for conversations that you know you are going to have when selecting its various difficulty levels.
I've found that daily use of Language Ninja is best combined with your favourite study tool or book course, so you do a little preparation in advance before jumping into it. Having said that, you don't need to use another system exclusively before you try this one. I really think Language Ninja‘s power is how much progress you can make and the speed at which you can make it, when you combine it with other good tools.
Because of this, it is way more work than so-called self-contained courses may promise. In fact, I found that some early uses of the system gave me a feeling of serious brain melting. Language Ninja is not for the faint of heart or the lazy language learner who wants everything spoon fed to him. Hard work is definitely involved, but you will get real results with this system, which is not the case for alternatives.
So check out Language Ninja and give it a try!
While I have enjoyed it enough to agree to have my testimonial on their home page, I promise that this blog post is not sponsored and that the “parents” of the system are not paying me to write this.
Since the system is very popular among experienced language learners, you don't even have to purchase it through this one site, and the owners of Language Ninja actually encourage sharing! So get on various websites to advertise that you are looking for your copy now!
It's an investment worth making and worth putting serious time into, and I say that very genuinely! Don't be a fool today, and really consider using it! If you like it, consider using the share buttons on their site to let your friends on Facebook, twitter etc. know about it.
If you are still unsure about the system and what is involved in it, then I have made this brief video explaining precisely how it works.
Share your thoughts on all this below!