Author: Language Mag

Language Mag aims to be the internet's number one destination for news and articles about languages and language learning. Stop by regularly to keep up to date on the latest developments, tips, tricks, and news. Or why not help out by contributing your own articles?
Duolingo

Duolingo

App Reviews
Duolingo is the "go to" language learning app of many a language learner because of its fun and intuitive design and its ability to turn language learning into a game. Over the years, Duolingo has expanded its selection of languages so that it now teaches many languages. A common question with Duolingo is what level somebody will be at when they finish the course. You should expect to be around an A2 level in reading and lower in the other skills. A typical Duolingo course will teach you about 2000 words, along with a variety of sentences. Unlike traditional courses, these sentences often don't have much relation to anything you'd use in real life. The idea is to make them fun and for you to absorb the grammar naturally. The natural grammar absorption isn't that effective and whil...
Babbel

Babbel

App Reviews
I've used Babbel before, but almost exclusively the desktop app version. As I'm learning Spanish now, it was time to try the App version. Babbel is one of the few apps that teaches grammar alongside the other elements of a language and teaches it well. It's broken into little chunks that are brought up when needed, just as the lessons are broken into chunks that make it feel like you can squeeze a lesson in here and there without it becoming a huge commitment. The app has a variety of exercises that you can carry out, from typing in words, selecting the correct one, to following along and filling in the blanks in conversations. The latter doesn't hold back from presenting words and sentences that you haven't seen before but that you can guess from the context, which is a great method...
5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

General
You imagine yourself speaking another language fluently, laughing with the natives as you order another beer. You make a throwaway comment about how the beer is better than in your country. "Oh. I didn't know you weren't from here", says the barman, "You speak the language so well". "Thanks, it's not perfect but I try", you reply as you secretly make plans to sell all your grammar books on the internet that evening and use the funds to buy a t-shirt with the simple slogan "bilingual" on it. You've had a dream like that, right? And then you tried to learn a language and remembered that learning a language is a bit like running a couple of marathons backwards, back to back, in fluffy panda slippers. Unless you're just enjoying the shape of the various straight and squiggly lines on you...
Language Drops

Language Drops

App Reviews
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful app for learning words in a foreign language than drops. From lovely gradient backgrounds, to intuitively designed exercises, the Language Drops App is what other apps should've been in terms of design. Despite it's undeniable good looks, it has its problems. The content, for example, consists of a single list of words that is divided into categories and translated into all of the 30 languages that Drops currently supports. That means that the amount of content is much smaller than some competitors (for example, Memrise). Whether you consider that a problem though, is a matter of personal decision - you could well take the opinion that by the time you've learnt all the words in Drops then you could start learning new words through reading books rath...
Drops – Continued

Drops – Continued

Blog
I'm still looking at the Drops app. At the moment I'm sitting in a place where I'm not sure if I like it or not. It's a beautiful, well designed app, but I have some niggles. The first is the time inconsistency. It says it gives me five minutes and I like that. I like the idea of being stopped and then having to do something else. But it keeps giving me extra time, and even an extra five minutes. Now I get that developers need to make money and this is to show me how much better my life would be if I subscribed and could use it all the time. But it just wouldn't. I'd almost be happy to pay to have the five minutes be consistent!   The second is that, as I progress, I come across words that relate more to concepts than easy to picture things. Then the icons start to become...
Simple Stories in Spanish

Simple Stories in Spanish

Blog, Language Specific
For those learning languages, it's often hard to find good reading material. Particularly good reading material with audio sources. The following, well designed, websites have come to my attention that have children's fairytales and stories translated into Spanish and are a great source of practice reading material.  
Chrome Extension to Reinstate Skill Strength on Duolingo

Chrome Extension to Reinstate Skill Strength on Duolingo

Blog, Language News
If you just want the extension, keeping in mind that it's a little bit experimental, head on over to the Chrome Extension page here. You should also check out my other Chrome Extension to track what languages you're reading web pages in and set reading targets: here. For everybody who wants to read about what this extension does and how it came about, please keep on reading. Some time ago Duolingo switched to a new Crowns system. A considerable number of users found this change drastic. The key complaints being that it no longer gave you any guidance on what to learn through the SRS system and that you couldn't really re-gold your tree anymore. Recently I've been writing an extension to track the languages that people read web pages in, so they can see statistics and set reading t
Language Analytics Chrome Extension Launched

Language Analytics Chrome Extension Launched

Blog, Language News
In the last blog post I mentioned that I was working on a chrome extension. The extension tracks the amount of time that you are spending on web pages in each language. This is really great for language learners, particularly at the intermediate stage, as it gives you an overview of how much you're reading in your second language without you having to track it. Since then I did a bit more work, tidied it up, and added a feature that lets you add a target and gives you a notification when you reach the target. For example, I can say that I want to read 30 minutes of Dutch and 15 minutes of Spanish a day. When I get to 15 minutes of Spanish, a box alerts me that I've hit that target, and similarly for the 30 minutes of Dutch. For those who are super keen, here's the link to the chrome store ...
Google Translate App Gets Smarter for Travellers

Google Translate App Gets Smarter for Travellers

Breaking News, General, Language News
Travelling in a foreign country and your language skills aren't quite there yet and you just can't understand that sign or even person? Then you'll probably dig out your phone and try the Google Translate app. It's not perfect, but it's hard to deny that it's useful in getting the general idea of what's being said. But - oh no! Disaster strikes when you have no data. The app can still translate but its results are even worse when it can't connect to Google's servers. Until now, or so Google says. Rolling out to the iOS and Android apps are translate improvements that bring AI translation to your phone even without a data connection. "Today, we’re bringing NMT technology offline—on device. This means that the technology will run in the Google Translate apps directly on your Android or i
Working on a Chrome Plugin

Working on a Chrome Plugin

Blog
Yesterday I got curious about how long I was spending on the web in foreign languages. I use Chrome as a browser, people can write extensions. There should be an extension that automatically tracks that, I thought. But there wasn't. If I think about it, it's a little bit similar to the Language Lifestyle kickstarter thing I recently wrote about (that's failing to get funding at the moment, for obvious reasons). The difference being that you don't have to do anything but actually read and check your stats later. So, to keep this post short - I've started writing that to see if it's possible. I have a basic prototype at the moment that is working quite well.