Using technology to learn a language

Using technology to learn a language by symo0

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 14th November 2014 and has been read 4868 times.

Because dictionaries are so pre-Millennium.

It's 9.30am. Your translation is in at 10am and, of course, you haven't done it. Filled with self-loathing and frantically glancing over your shoulder to check no one is watching, you hastily copy and paste your entire translation into Google Translate, hit 'Print' and run to your class. Just as you're about to hand in your work, you realise that your sentences read like they were written backwards by a blind chimpanzee with a very basic grasp of English grammar. In fact, the chimpanzee could probably have done a better job.

Sound familiar? We've all been there, but don't panic - technology is here to help. With these shiny new apps and plug-ins, you'll never have to use Google Translate again (except in real emergencies - you're only human).

One of Duolingo's biggest strengths? It's free and will remain so. Duolingo has already achieved significant fame in the language-learning world, but in case you haven't heard of it, this website and matching app breaks language learning down into bite-sized chunks, with levels, competitions and a points system to motivate you. Plus it reminds you to practice every day. Which can be kind of annoying. But it's worth it.

Duolingo Logo


Memrise uses the process of growing a plant as an analogy for learning a language. Courses are free, available in many languages and for many languages. Memrise is designed to be community-based; if they don't have the course you're looking for, you can join in and make your own. Like Duolingo, there's a points system to motivate you and whilst you're on there, you can also take courses in science, history...just about anything you like!

Memrise Logobusuu

Busuu claims to be the world's largest network for language learners, with an international community of over 40 million native speakers. The website has been around for a while, but they now have a brand new app. You can improve your listening, reading, writing and speaking skills with interactive learning exercises and quizzes, plus you get personal feedback.  


iHandy translator

This app allows you to translate sentences from 52 different languages, plus you can track your search history to make it easier and faster to use. Available in a more basic, free version or, if you're feeling fancy, a banner-ad free Pro version that allows you access to commonly used expressions and text-to-speech functionality.

iHandy Translator

If you use Google Chrome, Mind the Word is a super useful plug-in that allows provides language immersion as you browse online, by randomly translating a few words from every webpage visited into your target language. The genius part is you are already aware of the context, so your brain is tricked into absorbing new vocabulary. You can customise it so that you have complete control over how many words are translated, so it's great for language learning at any level and there's a huge list of languages to cater to as many people as possible. The only downside is that it works through Google Translate, so sometimes the translations are a little dodgy! However, it's still well worth a look.

Mind the Word


FlashSticks are foreign language, colour-coded sticky notes, each printed with a unique word, translation, icon and phonetic. Each FlashSticks pack comes with a free app; when you hover your phone over a word, a video of a native speaker will pop up and show you how to pronounce the word! Clever!

FlashSticks Logo

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