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The Web Way To Learn a Language 165

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the camgirl-charges-were-educational-hunny dept.
theodp writes "Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris. The NY Times has a round-up of ways to learn a language over the Web. 'We offer modern-day pen pals facilitated with voice over I.P.,' said Tom Adams, CEO of RosettaStone, whose learning options include RosettaStudio, a place where a user can talk to a native speaker via video chat. TellMeMore offers a speech recognition component that analyzes pronunciation, graphs your speech, and suggests how to perfect it. Free-as-in-beer offerings include BBC Languages, where you'll find varying levels of instruction for 36 languages, with features including audio and video playback and translation. Things have certainly come a long way since the PLATO Foreign Languages Project of the '70s."
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The Web Way To Learn a Language

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  • by eihab (823648) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @10:48AM (#30980986)

    I have found that two of the best free ways to learn a foreign language online is to listen to music in that language as well as watching stand up comedy in it.

    The music gives you something catchy to repeat and will allow you to memorize certain words, common phrases, etc. while the comedy will give you more of an insight into the culture (and culturally applicable words) since most comedians criticize or magnify people's behavior, discuss current topics and issues and usually use good vocabulary.

    Youtube can generally take care of those two.

    If you can also find websites that cover a topic you're interested and have a background in (e.g. programming or math) in that language, it won't be as harsh of a transition as you'll know about the topic before hand or you'd be very interested in it which allow you to translate your knowledge in that domain, gaining you more vocabulary/grammar.

    This obviously doesn't work across the board and you may need a book or some formal training for the basics to be able to distinguish between slang and proper use of the language. But if you're already on your way (and with the abundance of free online dictionaries) it can be a huge push forward.

    IRC or other online chatting systems can also help validate what you have learned and help you improve your conversation skills.

    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:03AM (#30981212) Homepage Journal

      Movies are even better. When you are a novice, subtitles help you know what to listen for, and for everyone the action on the screen can act as a cue to what is being said.

      • by eihab (823648) *

        Movies are even better. When you are a novice, subtitles help you know what to listen for, and for everyone the action on the screen can act as a cue to what is being said.

        Absolutely, movies with subtitles are great as they cover various things (including comedy) and will help you with certain aspects of the language.

        However, finding free movies online (legally) with subtitles can be more of a challenge than finding the hottest new Vanessa Paradis song or catching the highlights from the French comedy festival for example.

      • What I would prefer is movies that have subtitles in two languages simultaneously, my own and that of the speaker. I have much more difficulty understanding spoken Spanish, for example, than printed Spanish because my ear is not well tuned to the spoken words. Once I know what words are being spoken I often understand what is being said. And if I don't, the English translation will help with that.
    • I find in music the pronunciation isn't always clear (Imagine trying to learn English listening to Bob Dylan).

      My personal favourite is quiz shows, you learn how to ask questions and usually the speakers are quite clear. Otherwise, watching a film your familiar with that's been dubbed is also good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by clang_jangle (975789)

        Imagine trying to learn English listening to Bob Dylan

        Thee ants are mah freinds, they're blowin' in the wind...

    • Can you give examples of English songs that someone should be listening to? If I turned on the radio, I don't think hearing Beyonce/Eminem/Green Day/Metallica/Jay-Z/BrittneySpears would help me learn english. I can't imagine trying to pick out Farsi with a singer who's using a voice synthesizer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eihab (823648) *

        Can you give examples of English songs that someone should be listening to? If I turned on the radio, I don't think hearing Beyonce/Eminem/Green Day/Metallica/Jay-Z/BrittneySpears would help me learn english.

        Sure. Norah Jones, Dido, Celine Dion (works for French too), Elton John, Duran Duran, Robbie Williams, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on.

        The goal would be to find a song that you like that's catchy enough for you to repeat it. It's not the be-all end-all method of learning a language, but it will help.

        I can't imagine trying to pick out Farsi with a singer who's using a voice synthesizer.

        Go back to the classics and listen to older generation songs that are clearer and aren't computerized. Again, the goal is to enjoy the process and pick up the pieces as you go from as many sources as possible.

      • by elnyka (803306)

        Can you give examples of English songs that someone should be listening to? If I turned on the radio, I don't think hearing Beyonce/Eminem/Green Day/Metallica/Jay-Z/BrittneySpears would help me learn english. I can't imagine trying to pick out Farsi with a singer who's using a voice synthesizer.

        Frank Sinatra? Barry White? Or perhaps someone more recent like Billy Ocean, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Heart

        If all you know is cheap pop culture, then obviously everything will sound either as

        • "yo, yo, mama, you, shake dah shit, mah crew wanna pop littl' furry thang!", or
        • WAAAAAR, IT'S ALL FOOBARRRR, DIE11111!!! UGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

        Shit, we don't even have to look for famous singers. Children songs are an excellent way to learn correct pronunciation (given that children songs tend to teach that

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by jonadab (583620)
          > If all you have is a hammer, everything is going
          > to kinda like oh my god look like a nail cuz

          Actually, if all you have is Hammer, you're going to end up thinking Americans wear weird pants.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        On that topic, don't try to learn Japanese by listening to Hatsune Miku.

      • by Per Wigren (5315)

        Can you give examples of English songs that someone should be listening to?

        Max Romeo [youtube.com].

      • Can you give examples of English songs that someone should be listening to?

        Anything from Paul Simon?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Music has a big problem of words usualy not being very clear. Stand up comedy has IMHO, contrary to what you say, too narrow scope when it comes to culture...and the nature of the act quickly becomes monotonous.

      Movies are a phenomenall way. There really is an unimaginable number of great ones in many languages one would want to learn; and enough of them for very long daily viewing that easily fits your current mood. Yes, it works...my EN skills, while not great, were aquired that way (foreign TV films not b

    • I recently started using the Michel Thomas method to learn french and can attest that it's an incredibly efficient way to learn the language -- as long as I spend a couple hours a day practicing or listening to french radio (BBC Afrique is great for this). Early on dedication is really important -- skip a few days and you lose a lot.
    • the best free ways to learn a foreign language online is to listen to music in that language as well as watching stand up comedy in it.


      What about people that want to learn German?
      • by eihab (823648) *

        What about people that want to learn German?

        Search for "Komödie" and listen to 99 loft balloons.

    • by digitig (1056110)

      I have found that two of the best free ways to learn a foreign language online is to listen to music in that language as well as watching stand up comedy in it.

      But I am learning German, you insensitive clod!

    • by digitig (1056110)

      I have found that two of the best free ways to learn a foreign language online is to listen to music in that language as well as watching stand up comedy in it.

      I think it was James Blish who had a character in one of his books learn Italian from grand opera. When he got to Rome he found that he couldn't buy a newspaper without giving the impression that he would throw himself into the Tiber if the vendor didn't have the right edition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Inda (580031)
      I have a real problem talking to foreigners on a social level because of my slang. I try hard to tone it down but fail every time, innit?

      I can't help the slang, or the local way of speaking, you. (UK, west country with a hint of mockney, some west midlands thrown in for good measure, and some Geordie because of the railways workers who came to my town many years ago, like). I finish sentences with "innit you" or "ah boy" or "like" and people struggle - ju know what I'm sayin' like?

      And then there's the accen
      • by eihab (823648) *

        I have a real problem talking to foreigners on a social level because of my slang. I try hard to tone it down but fail every time, innit?

        Don't tone it down. It's on the foreigner to understand you "be'aa", and it will help them in future encounters with people who might not be as understanding or it'll just help them be able to fit in better.

        As long as you can repeat yourself for someone to catch up, it shouldn't be a problem. And foreigners should be able to tell which slang works appropriately depending on the region they're in as they develop language sophistication.

        • As someone from the westcountry, I'd appreciate it if anyone with a westcountry accent would tone it down as much as they can.
    • by mopower70 (250015)

      I have found that two of the best free ways to learn a foreign language online is to listen to music in that language

      I can't understand 90% of the lyrics in my own language so I doubt this would be very helpful. I have to admit I've picked up quite a few phrases in Italian from watching Rocco Siffredi in action, though that's not normally the kind of thing that's helpful when trying to order breakfast.

    • by Eil (82413)

      IRC or other online chatting systems can also help validate what you have learned and help you improve your conversation skills.

      I just have to say, even on the more "mature" channels, IRC is really more likely to damage one's understanding of a language than help it.

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday February 01, 2010 @10:53AM (#30981068)
    I found this for myself a few weeks ago, and have been slowly working on learning Scottish Gaelic.

    It's a lot more fun than when I was forced to learn Spanish in high school.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A lot more fun, perhaps, but a lot less useful. It is estimated that there are only about 50,000 speakers of Scottish Gaelic left.

      I am Scottish myself and was obliged to learn Gaelic in a similar way that you were obliged to learn Spanish. I cannot stand it.

      • by Bragador (1036480)
        Your second language should be for utility, but after that it's up to you. Many languages have interesting cultures and if you want to connect with them you have to learn the language.
        • Your second language should be for utility

          Particularly if your first language is Spanish or English and you live anywhere in the Americas.

          I think that once you learn a second language, for whatever reason, you're going to at least be comfortable with exposure to other languages. Once exposed to other languages, you tend to already know what's utilitarian.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Working on learning Irish myself, spent over ten years learning it in school and never put any effort in, now I'm regretting it just months after I've finished :P.
      Worst part about these languages is the difficulty of finding people to talk with in them IMO, it seems easier to find a fluent Spanish/French/German in Ireland than an Irish speaker.

      • Dia dhuit!

        At least you're in the country and have heard the sounds in your lifetime. I've tried working through a book-only version of learning Irish and good gravy---lenition and eclipsis, and that fraking letter "h" doing different things based on where it is in the word and the surrounding vowels. That causes a great deal of pain for this "stupid American"

  • Poor foreigners (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IBBoard (1128019)

    ...you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris.

    and

    ...RosettaStudio, a place where a user can talk to a native speaker via video chat.

    Poor foreigners with languages that people want to learn. They hope to teach people the delights of their own language rather than being forced to speak American (or even real English - that's what we speak in England ;) ) and end up having a webcam foreign languages session with some guy in his briefs!

  • I have a friend that is writting a greek learning tutorial... in greek. It follow the philosophy that to learn X, you start using X.

    Here is:
    http://sites.google.com/site/mathainoellenika/home/1---kalimera-1 [google.com]

    He just started, so is just the first steps...

    • It's analogous to reading code for yourself. "What? You want COMMENTED code? Loser."

    • by Rary (566291) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:03AM (#30981214)

      I took a look at your friend's site, but didn't get too far with it. I'm afraid it's all Greek to me.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bbqsrc (1441981)

        I took a look at your friend's site, but didn't get too far with it. I'm afraid it's all Greek to me.

        Promote that man! And seriously, you can't possibly consider that someone can learn a language by simply "reading" in that language. It requires some sort of introduction, at least a transliteration of the characters from the Greek to Latin alphabet. All in all, staring at encrypted data for years wont get you any closer to decrypting it without some idea of how.

        • by Tei (520358)

          I mostly agree. I suppose he will make a "Chapter 0" that will get fixed. Once you have "something", the next steps are doable.

          Anyway learning X using X is how *everybody* learn his native language.

          • Anyway learning X using X is how *everybody* learn his native language.

            See, that's the mistake that Rosetta Stone makes. People seem to forget all those years in that place called school that solidify one's knowledge of language. I mean, yes, if all one wants to do is speak with no real knowledge of grammar, be unable to spell most complex words, and break into gibberish once in awhile, then yes, all you need to do is learn X using X. If you want to actually learn a language, you are going to need, at the very least, a translation dictionary, and at the most(though preferre

            • I found the problem with Rosetta Stone that their pictures were completely generic. I tried learning a bit of Japanese with their software before I went out there, but gave up because I found it easier to work out what the Japanese phrases meant than what the Rosetta Stone pictures meant.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by jonadab (583620)
          > It requires some sort of introduction, at
          > least a transliteration of the characters
          > from the Greek to Latin alphabet.

          For language learning, transliteration is usually a bad idea.

          You may think, "I need this crutch", but what you actually need is to learn the native writing system of the language, and transliteration is a way of putting that off, which actually costs you time and effort. Transliteration almost invariably distorts the language in ways that make it harder to learn.

          There are except
  • i think we all kno how the web way to learn languege turns out from lookin at how the young netizen ppl write n speak today lol its a desaster
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hkdm (1721140) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:03AM (#30981222)
    I've also found it useful to change every interface that I use into the language that I'm learning. For instance, I've changed my PS3, iPod, and various websites into my desired language. For Asian languages it helps a lot with reading, and I've already increased my reading speed as a result. I would say it's a good supplement to a standard language course.
    • by tepples (727027)

      I've also found it useful to change every interface that I use into the language that I'm learning.

      Unless, of course, you're trying to learn something other than English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, or possibly Italian. Consumer electronics companies seem to think other languages don't exist [xna.com].

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      That works well until you can't remember what something says and can't remember how to get to the menu to switch it back to your native language! I've done it by accident before now (switched a device to Portuguese or something) and had to hunt down a manual to find the "put it back to English" option just by clicking and not reading.

  • This is a great article for me. Thanks /.
    I've been wanting to learn German language for reasons that will probably only seem important to me.
    I talk to myself incessantly, yeah, I'm kinda mental. I want to do it in German to add to the confusion of others.
    I really do get a strange feeling when Mexican folk switch from English to Espanol in my presence and would like to throw some German into the mix to let them see how it feels.
    Lastly of course, I have a German \ Italian heritage and would someday like

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ChienAndalu (1293930)

      I talk to myself incessantly, yeah, I'm kinda mental. I want to do it in German to add to the confusion of others.

      Pass' auf, sonst endest du wie Nietzsche ;-)

  • by timeOday (582209) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:15AM (#30981408)
    HTTP 1.0 has almost nothing to do with voice (or video) over the Internet.
    • by dmayle (200765)

      Well, as it turns out, it actually does... Take a look at the Ars Technica article on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) [arstechnica.com] and you'll see that SIP was modelled after HTTP [w3.org]. For those who don't know, SIP is the protocol most often used in making open video and voice calls over the internet (open as in non-proprietary. e.g. Skype doesn't use SIP, but interestingly enough, iChat does)

      Of course, I think it's pretty obvious that it was HTTP and HTML (aka the world wide web) that brought about the huge explosion in

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Pedantic, no. I genuinely think it is incorrect to attribute the vast, rich Internet of today to any single company or individual. Just as we would still have PCs without Bill Gates, electric lights without Edison, and residential broadband without Comcast. Just because one solution is adopted doesn't mean a different (perhaps even better) one would have been adopted otherwise. Another way to look at it, the percentage of code in a modern web browser that serves to implement HTML 1.0 is a minute fractio
  • "Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris."

    Um... I'm not sure how well this will work, I can't really stick my tongue in the monitor and since it's a touch screen I might accidentally tongue the close widget in the upper right corner of the screen. Not to mention the possible shock hazard, some how I feel like that kid that was dared to stick his tongue on the flag pole in winter.
  • I've been quite happy with Coffee Break French. [coffeebreakfrench.com]. That company has lots of other language podcasts as well.

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:33AM (#30981678)

    From my experience (I speak 5 languages, only one of which is my mother-tongue), past the very beginning, the best way to learn a language is to go live in a place where people speak it.

    Second best is to go there on long (at least 1 month) vacations and try to speak the language all the time (the natives usually appreciate the effort).

    Third best is to expose yourself to that language is a day-to-day spoken form. For example, watch non-dubbed TV and/or listen to radio in that language. (For a while, most of my English vocabulary was learned from Satellite TV)

    Fourth best is reading books/newspapers in that language.

    Both of the last two can be done using the Internet (using things like YouTube clips in different languages, foreign TV channels online, foreign newspapers and such).

    Being taught a language is only really worth it when bootstraping your learning, after that being taught a language is highly inneficient simply because, unless you're doing a high intensity course (i.e. several hours a day, everyday for several weeks), in between lessons you forget most of the words you learned in each lesson. This was my experience when learning Dutch while living in Holland - the 1h-lessons twice a week were only really effective for the first 2 or 3 months: beyond that you really need to learn the language by speaking it in your day-to-day. (that said, Dutch is considered a difficult language, toch!!? ).

    The good news is that once you learn a language from a given family it's a lot easier to learn other languages of the same family due to the similarities in the grammar, words and even whole expressions. I can now understand some German because of knowing Dutch.

    • The good news is that once you learn a language from a given family it's a lot easier to learn other languages of the same family due to the similarities in the grammar, words and even whole expressions. I can now understand some German because of knowing Dutch.

      I echo that sentiment: knowing Danish (natively), English and German, I can grasp the meaning of Dutch, though only when written---spoken in a normal tempo it's too fast for me.

  • by Bragador (1036480) on Monday February 01, 2010 @11:33AM (#30981680)

    1) Go to http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php [fsi-language-courses.org] and get the free classes you want.

    2) Study words using a free software like http://ichi2.net/anki/ [ichi2.net]

    3) Try to live as much as possible in the language studied. Listen to music in that language, TV shows, movies, etc.

    4) Make friends on a website like http://lang-8.com/ [lang-8.com] where the goal is learn new languages. If you want to learn French, French people will correct you and speak with you over Skype and you do the same by helping them learn English.

    Have fun!

    • Well, lang-8 actually looks pretty interesting. Thanks for the link, I've needed a way to maintain my Hebrew.

  • When he went to Brazil and discovered that his Portuguese was not as good as he hoped, he was asked "have you found a sleeping dictionary yet?" (apologies to any Slashdot readers who conform to the stereotype.)
  • Old meets new... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmayle (200765) on Monday February 01, 2010 @12:01PM (#30982100) Homepage Journal

    7 Years ago, I moved to France to work, not speaking a word of French, and I'm now a fluent speaker. The internet was instrumental in my learning French, but maybe not in the way you might expect...

    First, I used the net to search for and buy a program called Linkwords (I don't think it exists anymore, it was a crappy VB program). The software sucked, but the principle worked. It was a sort of flash card system that had you using vivid imagery as a mental aid. My vocab hit around 2000 words in the first couple of weeks. It was useless for learning to speak French, but the perfect lifesaver for reading signs, product packaging, etc.

    Then, I used P2P programs to find MP3s of Pimsleur French. For those not in the know, Pimsleur was a Harvard professor in the 60s who developed a system for learning languagues that mimics the way children learn. It's all about stimulating the memory at programmed intervals and it is one of the best ways to learn to SPEAK a language. (While there is writing materiel supplements, they're relatively minimal). These are quite expensive (you can spend up to $1000 for the complete set) because they work. You need to have about 1 hour a day to devote to it, and it must be somewhere you quiet that you can listen, and speak. (You need to hear yourself speaking for it to work).

    Next came my traditional phase, where I spent a lot of time reading BDs (the French equivalent of Manga. BD is Bande Dessinee (accents ommitted) which means comic strip. There's a very large adult BD culture in France). From there I progressed to Harry Potter (which is a surprisingly difficult read in French, lots of flowery speech, wordplay, etc.).

    After this, my French was halting, but I constantly tried, and was always asking the meaning of words from my colleagues.

    Then I started watching more French TV. At the time, the number of shows that were subtitled was depressingly dismal as compare to the US (though it has gotten a bit better). Again, computers and the net to the rescue, because I was able to download DVDs (the whole multi-language, multi-subtitle feature is a godsend for language learning). What you might not realize is that a lot of understanding a foreign language is based on context. If you know it, it's much easier to guess what is being said. In a conversation, if you miss something, you can ask the other person to repeat. Watching TV or movies requires you to pay closer attention. You can rewind, but you can never get the speaker to express the same thing using other words, so you really have to understand whats being said.

    Finally, thanks to the internet, I was able to find about speed dating events in my area where I met my wife. My wife speaks English (she's an English teacher) but her family doesn't, so that got me into social situations that required me to practice speaking.

    Now, I had the benefit of immersion, but I think it's important to realize that the internet is not a magic bullet for learning a foreign language, no matter what companies that sell internet based language services say. That being said, however, if the internet makes learning materiels more readily available, as well as practice opportunities, I'm all for it..

  • Is still the best way to learn any language. Watching media, listening to music, talking with people, reading and writing the language... doing anything that increases your daily exposure to the language. Naturally going to that country is your best bet, live with a host family, and do your best to forget your mother tongue for a year. A Chinese friend of mine speaks perfectly fluent German, simply from living there for a year with a family, despite not evening knowing "Guten tag" upon arrival (she didn'

  • what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@gmail. c o m> on Monday February 01, 2010 @12:10PM (#30982220) Homepage Journal

    "Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris."

    this is disgusting. i'm not sure what "learn french" is slang for, but i have a clue since its done in your underwear "in omaha": obviously some variation on shibari japanese rope bondage. how puerile. and i don't think slashdot needs to be the place for yet more attention for that whore paris hilton, no matter that there is a tutor in her, or whatever is in her, has anything or anyone not been in her?

    and i don't know who this Tim Berners-Lee fellow is but he's obviously some sort of pornography-addicted pervert. yet more proof the internet has been warped form the noble intentions of whoever started the internet. probably some nice science fellow working trying to better mankind with some sort of high minded science research, not this Tim Berners-Lee degenerate mentioned here

    how can we stop this madness?

    • Hey, don't diss the porn man. I learned english at the gymnasium*. I couldn't read or write a simple news paper article. But thanks to

      a) the Internet
      b) alt.sex.stories.moderated
      c) Tim "Fucking" Berners Lee

      I now can read english faster than german. Also i have a strong right wrist , mostly from moving my mouse ...

      I started studying computer scienes in 1989. CLIts were something that was found in the wild, man fsck had me taught about abstruse formatings, and alt. had more text than any sane man can possibly

  • FTFA:

    you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris

    With the advent of Skype's video support, I'm pretty sure that the "in your underwear" part is not appreciated by said Parisian tutor.

    • Go to the library or bookstore and get several books written in the language you want to learn.
    • Also get several books in some other language you do not know.
    • Study all those books, noting patterns in the languages, and trying to figure out as much as you can.
    • When you finally get stuck, take out the manual for your television or microwave over or some other device. Pick a device whose manual has multiple languages, including these from items 1 and 2.
    • This manual is your Rosetta Stone. Use it like scholars use
  • I can heartily recommend this site : smart.fm It has lots of Japanese, but other languages too, and is free like in no money.

  • I have found that my local public library (in the US) has great language resources. I can get pimsleur CDs for free (the complete courses for some languages), they used to have a free subscription to Rosetta Stone online (now switched to mangolanguages.com), language books, DVDs, etc. It's really an invaluable resource for free language learning.

    Another thing about it is that they will probably have a particularly strong collection on foreign languages that are common in your area. For example, my town has

  • How many of you reading this are thinking about picking up Japanese so you don't have to wait for the subbed version of your favorite anime/manga?
    • How many of you reading this are thinking about picking up Japanese so you don't have to wait for the subbed version of your favorite anime/manga?

      I once saw an un-subbed version of a Dragonball Z episode.

      The sound of Gokus voice made my ears bleed. He sounded like a squeaky little kid.

      I'll stick to the English language voiceover versions... the adult male characters actually sound like... adult males.

  • The article doesn't mention http://www.sharedtalk.com/ [sharedtalk.com] - a free service offered by Rosetta Stone that allows you to chat via text or voice with other people. You enter your native languages and practicing languages, and find people to talk to. Works quite well.

    I've been meaning to get through some more rosetta stone mandarin lessons...

    If you're interested in mandarin in particular, this guy also has some cool info including a list of the 3000 most used characters, ranked by how common they are. Suppos

    • by cyberon22 (456844)

      The 3000 figure is misleading, since Chinese words are bigrams and knowing them in isolation doesn't help. I think http://newsinchinese.com/ [newsinchinese.com] is the best way to train for reading Chinese newspapers. Otherwise it is painful.

    • The Chinese language is, in its spoken form, so simple. Grammatically its a perfect 'isolating language'

      It should be very easy to learn to speak and understand than it would to read. So long as you could speak enough to be able to get clarification on the many homophones I'm sure a person could get by in China as an illiterate.

  • Some of the software or websites mentioned are good (I would also add ChinesePod to the mix if that's your language of choice) but the article failed to emphasise the amazing opportunities the internet provides to make friends and language partners, for free, from motivated learners overseas. I have studied several languages, and made internet language partner friends who I have visited and had a great time, as a bonus to getting daily language practice. These language partners can be better (and definitely

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