10 Essential Tech Resources for Smart Language Learners 2nd Edition

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  • By Olly Richards! ! IWillTeachYouALanguage.com

    2nd Edition

    10 Essential Tech ResourcesFor Smart Language Learners !!!

  • i 2014 Olly Richards

    The material in this guide may include information, products or services by third par-ties. Third Party Materials comprise of the products and opinions expressed by their owners. As such, I do not assume responsibility or liability for any Third Party mate-rial or opinions.

    The publication of such Third Party Materials does not constitute my guarantee of any information, instruction, opinion, products or services contained within the Third Party Material. Publication of such Third Party Material is simply a recommendation and an expression of my own opinion of that material.

    No part of this publication shall be reproduced, transmitted, or sold in whole or in part in any form, without the prior written consent of the author. All trademarks and regis-tered trademarks appearing in this guide are the property of their respective owners.


  • 1 10 Essential Tech Resources For Smart Language Learners2nd EditionIntroduction

  • 3Hello!My name is Olly Richards and I run a blog called I Will Teach You A Language.

    Thanks so much for downloading this E-Book, now in its 2nd edition!

    I'm a huge fan of technology, and my goal in this guide is to show you how you can use these ten tools to take your language learning to the next level!

    Before we get started, here are a few things I'd like to mention.

    Firstly, technology won't teach you a language!

    Now, I think you already know this, but I'd like to make doubly-sure!

    There's no piece of software out there that will make you fluent in a month, or even a year! Technology won't do the work for you.

    That is, it won't turn bad learning into good learning.

    What it can do, however, is to help to turn good learning into great learning!

    Think about it.

    How well would Marty McFly have done on the hoverboard if he hadnt already been an awesome skater?

    Great tools in the wrong hands are all but redundant.

    I learnt my first few languages without any help from technology. Just me, a few tatty notebooks, a few bulky dictionaries... and a lot of enthusiasm.

    And you know what - that still works!

    The point of technology isn't to replace all that hard graft with different methods. The point of technology is to add new possibilities to methods that already work, and to make them more efficient.

    And so the resources in this book are not big, flashy tech start-ups like Facebook or Twitter.

    In fact, you might think some of them are kind of boring!

    But dont be deceived these are the few resources that I use day-in day-out, 365 days a year. Why?

    Section 1


  • 4Because they enhance my learning.

    If at any point while you're reading this guide you have any questions, don't hesitate to let me know.

    You can reach me straightaway on Twitter (@Olly_IWTYAL), or on my very active Facebook page. In fact, why not look me up now?

    If you want to contact me in private, you can reach me any time at olly@iwillteachyoualanguage.com.

    Happy reading!


  • 2 10 Essential Tech Resources For Smart Language LearnersTech Resources

  • 6Smart Repeat App

    What is it?

    Smart Repeat enables you to select and repeatedly listen to a designated section of an audio file. There are also buttons to skip backwards or forwards 2, 5, 10 or 30 seconds.

    Where can I find it?

    Android only. On the Google Play store:

    Free version (contains adverts and limit of 5 imported files)

    Full version - $2.49 (no ads and unlimited files)

    Theres an iPhone equivalent, called Speater:

    Free version

    Full version

    How will it help me?

    This app changed my life.

    The beauty is in the simplicity. You need to listen to a lot of audio when you learn a language, but its not easy to listen to the hard bits on repeat with normal music players.

    This app lets you tap a button to mark the beginning and end of a specific section that you want to listen to over and over.


    Section 1


  • 7Lang-8.com

    What is it?

    A website where you can have your writing corrected by native speakers. Write a journal in the language youre learning, then other users on the site will look at it and give line-by-line corrections.

    Where can I find it?

    URL: http://lang-8.com/ Cost: $0 Membership option: $7/month for more corrections, no ads,

    PDF downloads and more.

    How will it help me?

    You can use Lang-8 to get corrections on anything you want. Just type in what you want and someone will get back to you.

    Getting feedback on how you're using your target language is a crucial part of the learning process. Like anything, it's best done regularly.

    Writing regular 'diary entries' will help you to think in the language and regular corrections will focus you on where your errors are happening.


    The strong community makes Lang-8 a good place to meet potential language partners. Use the buttons to thank people for their corrections and add them as friends - this will make it more likely they will correct your future entries.

    Spend some time correcting other people's entries in your own language. This will boost your own entries up the list and generate more corrections.

    You can use Lang-8 to help you write prepared speeches - a powerful language learning tool. Find out how in this article: http://www.iwillteachyoualanguage.com/write-a-tech-savvy-speech/

    Section 2


  • 8Rhinospike.com

    What is it?

    A website where you can get any text read aloud for you by a native speaker.

    Where can I find it?

    URL: http://rhinospike.com Cost: $0 Membership option: none

    How will it help me?

    Textbook audio recordings can be a good way to start learning a language, but they have limitations too. Hearing things read aloud by real people will give you a much more realistic idea of how the language really sounds, and your listening skills will improve as a result.


    First, submit your text to Lang-8 (see part 2) for correction. Then, take the corrected text and submit that for recording on Rhinospike.

    (Note: although there is a feature for correcting text on Rhinospike itself, users tend to simply correct it as they speak, which doesn't leave you with a written record of the correction.)

    Remember to give back, and record audio for other people from time to time. Doing so will boost your own requests in the queue. The community here isn't as big as Lang-8 so it's a good idea to record as much as you can for others in order to make sure yours get seen.

    Pro tip: You can download the recorded audio in mp3 format. Put this on your phone so you can listen to it whilst out and about. More advanced users can even embed this audio in their SRS flashcards (see section 4).

    Section 3


  • 9Flashcards Deluxe

    What is it?A simple but powerful flashcard app using spaced repetition (SRS) to help you memorize vocabulary more easily.

    Where can I find it? URL: http://orangeorapple.com/Flashcards/ iPhone direct download Android direct download Cost: $3.99

    A free lite version is available if you want to try it first, but this has a limit of 6 cards per deck. I recommend you save yourself the hassle and get the full version! Here are the lite versions for iPhone and for Android.

    How will it help me? Flashcards are widely used by language learners the world over. Just input the words, phrases or even Chinese characters that you want to remember, and use the software to revise it.

    What SRS does is to bring efficiency to the process. When you see a card, you tell the app how well you know it. If you know it well, the card will be sent away for a few days. If you dont know it well, youll see the card just a few minutes later.

    In this way, you only spend your time reviewing the things you really need to.

    Flashcards Deluxe stands out from the crowd for a number of reasons. The interface is clean, easy to use and distraction-free. It is packed with extra features but still runs fast and doesn't require an internet connection.

    Check out my full review of Flashcards Deluxe.

    There are many other great flashcard apps out there. Anki and Memrise are perhaps the most well-known, but come with the following drawbacks:

    Anki: free web software, but the iPhone app is expensive at $24.99. The 3rd party Android app, however, is free.

    Section 4


  • 10

    Memrise: free web software, but the smartphone apps require an internet connection

    TipsThis app is without a doubt my single most useful resource and I could write a book on different ways to get the most out of it!

    To start, I recommend you spend some time on the developer's website where you'll find training videos, tutorials and FAQs which cover the basics and some of the extra features.

    My top tips for getting started are: Don't enter single words onto flashcards - full sentences

    are the way to go. Context is king! Exploit the "add sound/picture" function to support your

    memory Change which side of the card pops up first, depending on

    your strategy Make your own decks, rather than using other peoples

    ready-made ones. Sure, it takes longer, but it will be much more meaningful and memorable if you make your own.

    "Little and often" is the key for studying with SRS. 2-minute study sessions throughout the day are best.

    Pro tip 1: Sync your flashcards between all your devices using the app's Dropbox functionality.

    Pro tip 2: Flashcard decks can be made simply and easily on Microsoft Excel. Here's a sample format.

    Why not keep a spreadsheet on your desktop? You can then copy and paste new words and phrases into it as you find them. I like to transfer new words and phrases from my notepad directly into the spreadsheet after a language exchange - its much quicker!

    When you've got a good number of items in there, simply upload it to Dropbox and downloaded onto your app as a flashcard deck.

    For further discussion about using SRS flashcards, read this article:http://www.iwillteachyoualanguage.com/how-to-study-flashcards/

  • 11


    What is it? Lift is a website and app which helps you build study habits and routines.

    Where can I find it? URL: http://lift.do iPhone app: here Android app: here Cost: $0

    How will it help me? Do you struggle with motivation? You're not alone.

    In fact, this app by definition means you're not alone! It places you in a community of other people following goals and building habits, creating some accountability and motivating you to carry on.

    Define simple daily goals, such as: Read my French book for 10 minutes, or Study my German flashcards for 5 minutes.

    Enter these into Lift, then check in everyday when youve completed them.

    Its simple, but sticking to routines is hard, and this app gives you some well-needed support. You end up feeling guilty if you havent studied, and youll get push notifications from Lift to remind you to get to work!

    TipsBefore you head to the site, try think what area of your language learning you'd most like to develop a strong habit with. Start small, and get into the habit of checking in everyday.

    What are my daily goals? Follow me here!

    Section 5


  • 12


    What is it?

    A website for getting speaking practice. You can find informal teachers and language exchange partners from around the world.

    Where can I find it?

    URL: italki.com

    Cost: You purchase ITCs (iTalki credits) in blocks, which you then exchange for lessons. Professional teachers tend to cost more, while informal tutors can be very affordable - as little as $5 per hour!

    Alternatively, you can also connect with others for a language exchange, which is a free.

    How will it help me?

    Speaking a language fluently is what most people secretly want more than anything else. Many people also believe that they can never learn a language without living in the country itself.

    This is a fallacy. Even people who have moved to a country in order to speak the language have trouble finding people to speak with.

    iTalki puts you in contact with people to practice speaking with from the comfort of your own home. What sets it apart from other sites out there is the fact that you have a lot of teachers and informal tutors to choose from who come with ratings and reviews given by the community.


    Try to get clear what you want before you look for a teacher.

    Most people only need speaking practice, not formal teaching.

    You can get speaking practice cheaply by selecting the informal tutor option. They might not be the best teachers in the world, butyou dont need them toteach! You just need them totalkandlisten!

    Section 6


  • 13

    When you first get in touch, tell them that youre just looking for speaking practice theyll be happy because it makes it easier for them!

    Also, dont be scared to try out a number of teachers until you find someone thats right for you, and dont feel bad if you dont request someone back. It happens all the time and its more important for you to find the right person.

    For a guide getting the most out of speaking with a tutor or language partner, check out this article:


  • 14

    Voice Recorder

    What is it?

    Its the app on your smartphone which records things!

    Where can I find it?

    Its right there, on your phone! Have you found it yet? Track it down now if you havent!

    How will it help me?

    By recording yourself or other people speaking, it gives you the opportunity to go back and listen again.


    There are so many things you can do with this your imagination is the only limit!

    Some people record their lessons or their language exchanges. They then go back over it later, listening for bits that they found difficult to understand and having another go at deciphering what was said.

    My favorite way of using it is when Im abroad.

    I secretly record conversations with native speakers I meet as I go about my day the person who served me in Starbucks, the guy who sold me a train ticket, the girl who tried to sell me a pair of shoes.

    I just set the recorder going and hold the phone in my hand as I talk. When I get home, Ill listen back to the conversation and try to figure out everything I didnt understand first time round.

    I write about this in more depth in my article Stealth Learning in the Field:


    Section 7


  • 15


    What is it?

    An online dictionary. Much quicker and more efficient than paper dictionaries.

    Where can I find it?

    Google Translate is increasingly good for some languages, but not for others. Taking the time to find a good, solid online dictionary is a very good idea.

    Try visiting a good language-specific blog or forum that you know of and searching for best dictionary.

    Here are some good ones that I know of and use myself:

    Japanese: http://www.alc.co.jp/

    Mandarin: http://www.nciku.com/

    German: http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/

    Spanish: http://www.spanishdict.com/

    French: http://www.wordreference.com/

    Portuguese: http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-portuguese/

    How will it help me?

    Physical dictionaries are bec...