If you want to learn a new language, there are many ways to go about it. Of course, the best way way is to participate in an AmeriSpan Study Abroad program but most need to find the time to do this. If you are in school, taking a few semesters is good choice, with perhaps a summer, semester, or year abroad in a country that speaks your target language. For those not still in school, many of you did take a language at one point and may want a way to refresh your skills. We have some suggestions on ways to do learn at home from language learning software & online programs to subscriptions to magazines in other lasnguages to language classes by telephone.
If you are planning a study abroad trip, language software can be an excellent tool to refresh your language skills, ease your fears about living in a country where English is not the norm, and help with cultural adjustment. If you haven’t read AmeriSpan’s Guide to Cultural Adjustment, take a minute to download a free copy here. It is an excellent resource for all study abroad participants, as well as travelers of any genre.
We have identified and reviewed five top language software programs that can be very helpful in learning or refreshing a language.
Praxis Language has products for learning Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish. They began with ChinesePod, an innovative system of podcasts that users can take with them anywhere to learn the language on the go. They offer online support and different levels for all levels of Chinese speakers. This has evolved into FrenchPod, ItalianPod, and SpanishPod. An excellent resource for somebody who wants to learn the language on their own terms, at their own pace, and on the go.
Rosetta Stone is probably the best-known language software available. They have a unique approach to teaching, in which users learn comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. You can buy the CD-ROM format or the new online subscription format, which allows you access anywhere you have a computer with an internet connection. The grammar and vocabulary is taught naturally, without memorization, translation, lists, or drills. Rosetta Stone also has speech recognition technology, which helps with pronunciation. They have a different approach, with no English translation, which is meant to teach you the way you learned to speak as a child. Overall an excellent and comprehensive investment.
Tell Me More is a leader in language software as well. They offer up to 2,000 hours of learning and 10,000 types of exercises. There are 10 levels of learning, with advanced speech recognition technology. They include grammar explanations, cultural content, online tests and chat, MP3 player compatibility, and much more. Tell Me More is offered in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Dutch.
Transparent Language is an excellent online resource that also offers CD-ROM software. They offer an astounding 105 languages! The software includes video immersion environments, flashcard tools, translation dictionaries, reference sets, and audio courses. There are also very interesting blogs about learning many different languages and living abroad. A tool we particularly like is called BYKI, for “Before You Know It.” BYKI software is offered as a free download, with an upgrade option. An intuitive tool, BYKI keeps track of the words or phrases you know, and repeats the ones you don’t know more often. This allows for quicker and more complete progress by not constantly repeating words you already know. The upgrade unlocks more features and levels. Highly recommended!
Visual Link Spanish is just for Spanish, but also an excellent tool to check out. They offer 11 free Spanish lessons, a free Spanish dictionary, and free resources for Spanish teachers. They offer excellent products with different concentrations, such as workplace Spanish, and lesson plans for middle and high school teachers.
Other Language Learning Ideas
Think Spanish & Think French – subscriptions to magazines written intermediate Spanish & French with a variety of learning aids.
Bilingual America Spanish programs – A variety of products including languages classes via phone, complete DVD courses and an online program. Trial offer.
No matter which language software you choose, it can do nothing but help you when you are preparing for your study abroad trip. Click to find and research complete information on AmeriSpan Study Abroad programs.