3 Great Tools for Learning a New Language

Learning a new language can be daunting. Luckily, there are a huge selection of online tools to choose from which can help you to achieve your desired level of fluency in a new language.

The flip side of the problem, though, is how do you actually know how to pick which ones to use?

Lyon, France

The best way to learn a language? Travel to the country where you need to use the language of the host country. In Lyon, France, I improved my French skills.


I’m going to focus on a 3 tools that I have found to be the most useful when learning a new language, all of which I’ve been using for at least a year if not more:

(1) Conversation Exchange

This is a great website where you can search people’s profiles and connect with people who want to learn another language. You can search for someone who is located in your hometown or connect with them via Skype. I’ve met a few great French speakers this way (who live in San Francisco). Superb way to connect offline or online and practice your conversational skills.

(2) WordReference

This is a fantastic dictionary for a number of languages (it originally just had a robust dictionary for Romance languages but has since spread to other languages). They provide a number of entries for any given word, and the forums are well frequented and have great back-and-forth-discussion.

Necessary for when you’re online and need to look up something quickly – I prefer it to Google Translate, in particular because you can understand the nuance of words with their explanations. I’ve used this for French and Spanish translations.

(3) Memrise

Whether you’re looking to pick up 15 words in Japanese for a business trip to Tokyo, or you want to expand  your Spanish vocabulary to know more words, Memrise is an online system that helps you learn and retain new words. Within Memrise, you get to choose a set of vocabulary words, many collections which have been created by other users. Once you start learning the words in the collection that you have chosen, the system prompts you to pick a funny story in order to remember this new word or phrase.

These are just 3 great resources. There are many more which I haven’t used in too much depth (like iTalki or DuoLingo) but which I’ve heard great things about, and would encourage you to check out as well.

What tools have you used to learn new languages to meet your fluency goals?


Jen Burstedt

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