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Want to learn a new language? Check this out.

    • silphonica
      Joined: 26.08.2010 Posts: 28
      I wrote this thread not so long ago for another forum, and have also published it on another forum after that. I figured to the community that gave me a free starting capital it would be worth to make a thread for it here to share the knowledge. Also works as a thanks :)

      Don't buy Rosetta Stone

      Now I am not claiming to be an expert when it comes to learning a new language, but tbh, Rosetta Stone is supremely over-priced and all the tools that are offered to you. The ideology of Rosetta Stone is, you are a baby with no ability to talk and must learn a language as you get older. There is a problem with this; We are not babies. Firstly when you're a baby, you absorb information much faster than you do now, we aren't spoon-fed information like we were then either, we now have to find the information ourselves. What Rosetta Stone likes to offer is that immerse experience by making things like flash cards and memory games a thing of the past. Also adding shiny voice-recognition. Well the reason I just singled flash-cards out is because I lol'd when I saw that on their website, I'm pretty sure when I saw their ad on TV, they had a clip of some dude using flash cards. However, think of it like this, what do you think is more useful to you. Talking to a computer program, or talking to someone who is native in that language?

      This is the harsh reality, and you might not like me saying this, if you want to learn a new language, you're going to have to put in time, effort and dedication. From what I read on the rosetta stone website, they prey on people's insecurities (Oh lawdy don't most companies these days), they promise you for only $500 a pop you can learn any language easily. This really isn't the case, which is why I've created this topic, to help you get started.

      Firstly, why do you want to learn the language?

      Well, what language do you want to learn and why? There are, somewhat, right and wrong reasons to learn a new language. Let me give you my experience and hopefully that will help you with that question.

      I studied French throughout my school life for like 10 years, by the end of high school, I knew nothing. I mean, now if someone asked me to read something in French, i'd get it. Eventually. However, speaking, listening or writing in French. I could not do. I was pretty ashamed. A few years later, that feeling hadn't left me, I still felt pretty bad for myself not being able to speak any goddamn French, at this point I was starting to realise how boring my country was. Don't get me wrong I love being Scottish. The highlands here also have some beautiful scenery. However, the fun in here fades away and I wanted to live somewhere else. It was at this point I started dating a Japanese chick, she started telling me things about her culture which made me pretty interested. I started finding out about Japan more and more and more on my own. This is around the same time I started getting a taste for asian chicks. I started to learn Japanese, and make an effort. I had made a resolution that, I, would like to work there at some point. A change in my life that I'll surely need, so I made it my goal.

      Also, you're probably wondering "what are wrong reasons for learning a language". Well they're not really "wrong". Anyone can give themselves a reason to learn a new language. However when I started learning Japanese, I met other people learning Japanese as well. I asked them why they started learning Japanese. I heard stupid ass reasons like "I want to be able to understand anime without subtitles" or "I fink it soooooooo kawaii sounding". That **** made me cringe, and typically after a month of meeting them I never heard from them again.

      So if you want to learn a language, give yourself a good reason as to why you want to invest your time learning it.

      How do I get started.

      Learning a new language doesn't come free, don't expect it to! If you want to learn a new language there are a few things you'll have to spend your cash on. These typically come in the form of materials such as textbooks or classes (whichever you choose - more on that in a second).

      Tests - If you want to use a language for business abroad, usually you have to pass a test so employers can understand what level you're at. For me since I study Japanese. I would have to pass JLPT. Tests are broken down into levels. E.G the JLPT levels are:

      Level 4 - Lowest
      Level 3 - Second lowest
      Level 2 - Business level
      Level 1 - Fluent

      I know level 2 there says business level. However, here is a pro-tip, if you manage to pass business level on your preferred language test, it does not mean an employer is looking for someone with language skills in business level. I looked at Japanese jobs, a lot of them wanted fluent level. Sucks, that just an extra form a motivation for me.

      Spanish -
      French - and
      German -
      Japanese -
      Mandarin -
      Korean -
      Dutch -
      Portugese -
      Russian -
      Italian -
      English (for you non english natives there) -

      Textbooks - Unfortunately, I don't know much about all the languages and their textbooks. Therefore, I can't give you recommendations on which textbooks you should look out for. But, if you're serious about learning a new language, then do a little bit of research before buying any textbooks. So, research what test you will have to do for the language you are taking, and then look for textbooks offering material for those tests. Avoid all the touristy books. Unless you're going on holiday for 2 weeks.

      Classes/tutoring - Not as expensive as you may think. You can do some research see if there are any cheap local ones around you, but I doubt it.

      I recommend this place: - Credits to M_Pek (misc), this website has university level language courses for free. - Credit to farbwenz for posting this (poker strategy)


      This is a website where you can hire tutors or go to classes to learn a language, they have a lot of languages and great tutors out there. You can look at a teacher's profile and see what credentials they have and see their feedback. There are also classes (I recommend these - from my experience the tutor uses the same materials as they do in 1on1 sessions) which are cheap and also free. Although these are few in numbers at the minute due to the xmas period. You can also meet people on these sites to practice your language with.

      Tools to enhance your learning:

      There are wide range of free materials online to enhance your learning that imo will be more useful for you rather than rosetta stone. - Lang-8 is a personal favourite of mine. On this site you can upload things you've written in the language you're learning and native speakers will correct any mistakes you've made and highlight things you're doing wrong. - a is great site giving you all kinds of study materials and tests. It tracks your progress and gives you suggestions on what you should study and gives you goals. - italki is a language learning community where you can meet people native to the language you're learning who are also learning English. Also has an option to hire tutors. - Popling is a site that helps you learn the vocab of the language you're learning with flashcards. - Podcasts with a wide range of lessons that you can put on your phone or mp3 player aswell as your computer. - Another language learning community which has an online dictionary and a communication tool. Also offers to meet native speakers IRL. - I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR JAPANESE AT LEAST. I tried this site with Japanese and didn't like it because of the structure for Japanese but might prove useful in other languages. Has free lessons you can take with members uploading things like sound clips to help pronunciation and text files to help members, is also a language learning community. - Online dictionary and translation tools. - More online dictionaries and translation services, personally a lot better than freelang. Also has a service to find language links. - for use with Spanish, English, German, French, and Italian only. Comes with multimedia tools for learning each language with another community to meet other learners. - Comes with many materials and tools to help you learn.. With software, articles, games etc you can find something useful to learn the language of your choice. - Has access to podcasts in 37 different languages. - matches you with language partners where you can use voice or text chat to enhance your knowledge in your language. Also gives you tools to help you learn your language. - 58 different games to play to help you learn the language of your choice.

      There are other things you'll need to help you along your way:

      Skype: this is the best voice and video messaging system, you can use this to chat with people you know are learning your language or native speakers.

      Livestation: brings you TV channels from around the world that will let you listen to TV in the language you want (good for listening practice).

      itunes: If you have itunes, you can change the location on your itunes and go to podcasts, you can listen to podcasts in the language of your choice. Also good for listening.

      Magazines: go to newsagents and there might be magazines designed to help people learning languages by rating each article on how difficult it is to read in that language. (Can also read articles online via google if you're brave enough).


      This is all I can think of for the moment there was other ideas in my mind I wanted to put down, but it's nearly 5am and I've forgotten them.. Depending on what happens to this topic I will update later .. maybe.

      Hope this helps a few of you, i've done my good deed for the misc since I've signed up now.

  • 19 replies
    • conall88
      Joined: 02.01.2009 Posts: 1,715
      rosetta stone isn't good I agree. I have a copy.

      it doesn't approach you as a baby. a baby gains total immersion in the environment of the language. the same cannot be said

      i'm a fan of All Japanese All the Time

      Im using it to keep myself motivated and improve my techniques for learning Kanji.
    • spiegeltaler
      Joined: 06.05.2006 Posts: 608
      i use to learn russian, a pretty cool site. most content is free, and there are live video chats to practice with native speakers or other students. im suprised u didnt list it, they have tons of languages. :heart:
    • Skylark10
      Joined: 16.03.2011 Posts: 10
      Nice interesting.....
    • ihufa
      Joined: 18.03.2008 Posts: 3,323
      Easily thread of the month
    • skatelouis
      Joined: 26.05.2008 Posts: 2,033
      Thanks a lot for that thread. Could help me a lot with my english writing and speaking. I want to study in an English University.
    • OZSA
      Joined: 18.05.2009 Posts: 804
      if the thread gets nominated u got my vote. nice post.
    • Helipacter
      Joined: 28.07.2010 Posts: 474

      My intermediate Spanish needs a dusting. BTW, has changed and is now called "iKnow", and it's no longer free; -EV IMO.
    • alejandrosh
      Joined: 02.07.2008 Posts: 4,346
      way better thread than that "poke her jokes"
    • conall88
      Joined: 02.01.2009 Posts: 1,715
      JLPT is a waste of time. the certificate is meaningless in Japan unless you want to study Japanese at a university, a friend of mine found this out first hand.

      If you are proficient enough to communicate in japanese in a fluent manner, both written and spoken , eg Resumés, phonecalls etc. then clearly you are proficient enough for everything else.
    • farbwenz
      Joined: 01.01.2010 Posts: 359

      thanks for all the links:-)

      I personally don't like the attitude of buying a textbook, which suits a certain test (unless u actually need that test for work). The reason is that you should be learning the language for your own interest. If you actually want to learn the language, the chinese HSK books are total crap, especcially the listening comprehension part. And in the HSK itself, there is no oral examination, what a fcking joke :D

      Don't know for japanese, but for chinese I'd reccomend using a textbook written by western foreigners, because they put more emphasis on own thinking. Though the official textbooks by the beijing culture press are also good.

      I also find it important to find a language partner. I went to china for 1 year and had many japanese friends who could not speak english, so we had to communicate in chinese. Also, i met almost every day with a chinese guy to teach him german and get taught chinese. I learned so much more than at the language school itself.....

      And one more language link:
    • silphonica
      Joined: 26.08.2010 Posts: 28
      Originally posted by conall88
      JLPT is a waste of time. the certificate is meaningless in Japan unless you want to study Japanese at a university, a friend of mine found this out first hand.

      If you are proficient enough to communicate in japanese in a fluent manner, both written and spoken , eg Resumés, phonecalls etc. then clearly you are proficient enough for everything else.
      If that may be the case that the JLPT certificate is useless when actually going to Japan but actually speaking the language is more practical through proficiency.

      Then surely JLPT is useful enough to test yourself on how much you have learned of the language?

      Also thanks for the kind words everyone, but I think this topic went under the radar for topic of the month, it's ok though that's not what this topic was created for.

      If anyone has any questions let me know, otherwise i'll respond to any requests given via PM at the moment.

      Edit: Thanks to the post above me!
    • conall88
      Joined: 02.01.2009 Posts: 1,715
      Then surely JLPT is useful enough to test yourself on how much you have learned of the language?

      and talking to a native japanese speaker isn't? lol.

      it isn't hard to find people who are willing to help you in that regard..
    • silphonica
      Joined: 26.08.2010 Posts: 28
      Originally posted by conall88
      Then surely JLPT is useful enough to test yourself on how much you have learned of the language?

      and talking to a native japanese speaker isn't? lol.

      it isn't hard to find people who are willing to help you in that regard..
      Of course it is, I always recommend talking to a native speaker. However, if you don't live in Japan that isn't always the easiest thing to do.
    • nativehero2007
      Joined: 27.05.2010 Posts: 64
      I wish to learn mandarin..... and im poor
    • tryhardnoob
      Joined: 01.12.2010 Posts: 1,287
      added to favorites
    • GunnarPB
      Joined: 30.03.2011 Posts: 28
      If u really wanna learn another language just travel and live for a good time(2 years i would say at least) in a country that speaks that language, this is by far the best method to learn a new language but not the most practical obviously. If you don't wanna live in a another country but still wanna learn a new language i would recommend taking real classes( a real good teacher can help you a lot, but look for a teacher that came from that country or that at least lived there for a good time) if you don't wanna pay a teacher than you can take some internet classes witch is not bad too. But the only way you gonna learn to speak and understand a language properly is if you live with people that fluent speak that language. The best method for this would be joining a ventrilo or team speak channel and listen to people talking that language in real conversations and start speaking after a time when you fell comfortable. I've been taking English classes since i was a kid but i just started speaking it fluently after i joined a non-Brazilian guild in WoW and started speaking with these people through the ventrilo. So you can take 10 years of theory but you just gonna really learn it you you live with people that speak that language. Another tip would be watching movies without subtitles, helps a lot too.
    • ExternalUseOnly
      Joined: 30.01.2010 Posts: 3,373
      I agree that rosetta stone is quite over priced but i think its methods are actually great and iv tried a few methods, each to their own i guess
    • Maniatrix
      Joined: 01.11.2008 Posts: 674
      I tried Rosetta Stone as well. Seems like a good method for lazy people to learn. I did it for Spanish and it helped out a bit.

      And, who cares about costs when everything is free on the internet :D
    • IngridN
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      + /// used it for French :) really good site.

      Awesome thread, thank you silphonica :heart: