New 10 Tech Resources for Language Learners Olly Richards

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  • 10 ESSENTIAL TECH RESOURCES FOR SMART LANGUAGE LEARNERS By Olly Richards of www.iwillteachyoualanguage.com

    Olly Richards 2013

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    Contents

    Foreword ..................................................................................................................................... 4

    One : Lang-8.com ......................................................................................................................... 6

    What is it? 6

    Where can I find it? 6

    How will it help me? 6

    Tips 6

    Two : Rhinosphike.com ................................................................................................................ 7

    What is it? 7

    Where can I find it? 7

    How will it help me? 7

    Tips 7

    Three : Flashcards Deluxe ............................................................................................................. 8

    What is it? 8

    Where can I find it? 8

    How will it help me? 8

    Tips 9

    Four : Lift.do .............................................................................................................................. 10

    What is it? 10

    Where can I find it? 10

    How will it help me? 10

    Tips 10

    Five : iTalki.com ........................................................................................................................ 11

    What is it? 11

    Where can I find it? 11

    How will it help me? 11

    Tips 11

    Six : Skype ................................................................................................................................. 12

    What is it? 12

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    Where can I find it? 12

    How will it help me? 12

    Tips 12

    Seven : Conversation Exchange.com ........................................................................................... 13

    What is it? 13

    Where can I find it? 13

    How will it help me? 13

    Tips 13

    Eight : Voice Recorder ................................................................................................................ 14

    What is it? 14

    Where can I find it? 14

    How will it help me? 14

    Tips 14

    Nine : Keyboard input ................................................................................................................ 15

    What is it? 15

    Where can I find it? 15

    How will it help me? 15

    Tips 15

    Ten : E-Dictionaries .................................................................................................................... 16

    What is it? 16

    Where can I find it? 16

    How will it help me? 16

    Tips 16

    Final words from Olly ................................................................................................................. 18

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    Foreword

    My name is Olly Richards and I run iwillteachyoualanguage.com. Thanks so much for downloading this eBook! 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 knew 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! Sorry to disappoint you! Whatever the guys in sharp suits at Rosetta Stone may tell you, technology won't change your life. 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!

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

    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 so the resources in this book are not necessarily big, flashy, headline-grabbing Silicone Valley start-ups. In fact, you might think some of them are kinda boring! But dont be deceived these are the only resources that I use day-in day-out, 365 days a year. Why?

    Because they work.

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    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 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!

    Olly

    The material in this guide may include information, products or services by third parties. 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 material 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 registered trademarks appearing in this guide are the property of their respective owners.

    2013 Olly Richards

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    One : Lang-8.com What is it? A website where you can have your writing corrected by native speakers. People keep journals in the languages they're learning, then other users on the site review it and give line-by-line corrections.

    Where can I find it? URL: 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 it in and wait for someone to step up. The best thing about the site is the vibrant community of users who are generous with their time and willing to help. 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.

    Tips The strong community makes Lang-8 a good place to make friends and to meet potential language partners. Use the buttons to thanks 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. Apart from being good karma, it will boost your own entries up the list and generate more corrections.

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    Two : Rhinosphike.com What is it? An audio-based 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 recordings can be a good entry to a language, but they only go so far. 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 accordingly.

    Tips Before using Rhinospike, submit your text to Lang-8 for correction first. Take the corrected text and submit that for recording on Rhinospike. (Note: although there is a correction feature on the site, users are more likely to simply correct it as they speak, which doesn't leave you with a written record of the correction.)

    As with Lang-8, do 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.

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    Three : Flashcards Deluxe What is it? A simple but powerful flashcard app which uses SRS (Spaced Repetition System) to help you learn things more efficiently.

    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. There are so many words and phrases to be learnt in any language - we need some support. Good, old fashioned "testing" can help us with that.

    What SRS does is to bring efficiency to the process. Rather than wasting time reviewing items that you already know well, it prioritises those items that you don't, based on the information that you give it.

    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.

    Note: 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 $24.99 (the 3rd party Android app is free)

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    Memrise: free web software, but the app requires an internet connection

    Tips This 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! As a first port of call, 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. I don't recommend using other people's, because you don't have any 'ownership' over the language. 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. No binging at the weekend!

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

    Pro tip: 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. 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.

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    Four : Lift.do What is it? Lift is a website and app which crowd-sources motivation. Sign up to plans such as "Meditate", "Achieve 50 pull-ups in a year", or "Learn 100 words in 100 days", check in everyday with your achievements, follow others on the same plan, and geek out on the gorgeous graphics which show how many days in your current "streak"!

    Where can I find it? URL: 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 the same (and other) goals, creating some accountability and motivating you to carry on. The plans put together by others contain detail about what's involved in each case, but you're free to make your own, too. Not only do you check in and enter what you've done each day, but you get to see what others on the plan have been up to, read their thoughts and advice, share in their pains, and so on!

    Tips Before you head to the site, try think what area of your language learning you'd most like to develop a strong habit with: Reading for 30 minutes per day? Learning 10 new words after dinner? Having 3 Skype chats per week? Try to get that clear in your mind, because you'll be overwhelmed with tempting ideas once you're on the site! My friend and long-time Lift user Brian told me: "You'll be tempted to add loads of habits.

    Don't. Stick with one and get it right. Lift will only empower you if you see all those days checked - it will do the opposite if you have too many blank days. If you have too many habits it will only become a hassle. Remember, actually checking in on Lift every day is a new habit you are building, too!"

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    Five : iTalki.com What is it? A website which puts you in touch with an online language teacher for personal language lessons. Teachers come with reviews and recommendation from other students. You can schedule lessons for the time of your choosing, then connect with them over Skype.

    Where can I find it? URL: italki.com

    Cost: Varies from teacher to teacher. 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. 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. This site puts you in contact with people to practise 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.

    Tips Try to get clear what you want before you look for a teacher. Do you want teaching, or do you want practice? If its the latter, then you dont need a teacher. Go for the cheaper informal tutor option they might not be the best teachers in the world, but you dont need them to teach, you just need them to talk and listen. Tell them thats what you want 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 for a second time. For a guide to making language exchanges work, check out this article.

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    Six : Skype What is it? Im sure you dont need me to tell you what this is, but just in case: software for making phone and video calls for free over the internet.

    Where can I find it? URL: skype.com

    Cost: free (for Skype-to-Skype calls. Calls to landlines and mobiles cost money.)

    iPhone: here

    Android: here

    How will it help me? Skype is the standard for internet phone calls, and Facebook even use it to power their video chat feature. Pretty much anything you can do with a teacher, you can do on Skype.

    Tips Its common to feel nervous about talking to people on Skype, especially when it involves speaking in another language. I dont pretend to be able to alleviate that fear, but consider this if you were going to meet a language partner for the first time in a caf tomorrow morning, would you be at all nervous? If so, is Skype really any different? Its such a powerful tool and can help you so much with your language learning that it really is worth trying to summon up the courage. You may find that choosing a teacher rather than a language partner might help, as the pressure is on them to perform. Also try emailing them first to discuss how you feel, and ask them to speak in English for a while until you get to know them.

    Pro tip: Many people find that Skype works better on mobile devices than it does on computers, so give that a try. Use a pair of headphones with built-in mic, like the standard Apple ones.

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    Seven : Conversation Exchange.com What is it? An online language exchange community. While iTalki.com aims to put you in touch with a teacher, conversationexchange.com aims to hook you up with a language partner. They have three options: face-to-face conversation, correspondence (pen-pal), and text and voice chat.

    Where can I find it? URL: conversationexchange.com

    Cost: free

    How will it help me? It pretty much does what it says on the tin! The reason I recommend this particular site is that it has a large community of people and so increases your chances of finding someone you like. If you really dont want to meet someone face-to-face, why not start with chat or email? Its still a great way to start using your language.

    Tips Like with the other social sites listed in this guide, youll get much more out of it if you spend a bit of time on your profile. Again, use a pseudonym if you want, but do take the time to write about exactly what youre looking for on the site. For example: Im looking for someone to chat with on Skype messaging only. Id like someone who can spend 2 hours a week chatting, and who can point out the mistakes in my Japanese, and of course Im happy to do the same for you in English! I love animals I have 13 cats! I also love watching horror films and going for walks by the sea.

    For more detailed advice on using this site, check out my article here.

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    Eight : 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.

    Tips 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 favourite 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 you 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 this article: Stealth Learning in the Field!

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    Nine : Keyboard input What is it? This is the option on your phone and computer to type in another language!

    Where can I find it? Mac: Go to Apple > System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources

    PC: click Settings, and then click Change PC settings. Click Time and language, then Region and language, and then click Add a language.

    How will it help me? Many people avoid writing in their target language, especially if that language involves a different alphabet, such Arabic or Chinese. By starting to write in your target language, not only can you access sites like lang-8.com, but you can start doing Google searches, interacting on forums in short, its a gateway into the language.

    Tips If learning a language based on the Roman alphabet, this isnt such a big deal for you. But do make sure you can write all of the unique characters in the language: the Portuguese '' or the German ''.

    Languages which don't use the Roman alphabet can have a steep learning curve when it comes to learning how to type. Chinese, for example, might seem daunting. However, it's often much easier than you think once you've figured out the basics. Google "how to type in [language]" and find a tutorial. Spend an hour learning the basics - it will be such a good use of time! YouTube can be good for this, too.

    The better smart phones have handwriting input now, which means, in the case of Chinese, for example, you can literally draw-in your characters! As soon as possible, then, try to transition into writing in your target language at every opportunity.

    Pro tip: If you still see funny characters displaying after installing the new input, try altering the encoding options on your browser:

    Google Chrome: Menu button > Tools > Encoding IE: Right click page > Encoding > More

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    Ten : E-Dictionaries What is it? An online dictionary.

    Where can I find it? Google Translate is increasingly good for some languages, not for others. I suggest taking the time to get an authoritative answer for your language by heading over to a good language-specific blog or forum that you know of and searching for best dictionary. Here are some of the more popular:

    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 becoming increasingly redundant. The reason? It takes too long to look stuff up! How many times have you had to interrupt your studying to look up a word in the dictionary, find what youre looking for, only half-understand the translation, think about it for a minute, put the dictionary away, go back to what you were doing none-the-wiser and promptly forget what you just spent 5 minutes looking up? Used to happen to me all the time! With online dictionaries we can find what we need, when we need it.

    Tips Use a good online dictionary during a language exchange to look up things that you want to say. This will help keep the conversation in the target language and keep you from resorting to English!

    Pro tip: Keep an Excel document on your desktop for new words and phrases that you look up. Each time you find something new, copy and paste it into the spread sheet. After a while, you can export these automatically into an SRS deck (see Three

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    above for how to do that) in under 60 seconds and start testing yourself when youre out and about!

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    Final words from Olly

    Well done for making it to the end!

    I hope you found this guide useful, and that youve enjoyed reading it as much as Ive enjoyed writing it for you. You now have all the tech you will ever need for your language learning journey!

    Ive tried to demonstrate in the Tips sections that there are infinite possibilities just with the most simple of resources. You dont need to spend any more of your time hunting for the latest app everything you need is right here! Now you can just get on with the business of learning

    Take it away, have fun, experiment, try something new every day, and let me know how it goes!

    Thanks so much for your support of iwillteachyoualanguage.com. My mission is to help you reach your language learning potential, whatever stage youre at, and whatever your goals, so Id love to hear what you think about this guide. Please leave a comment at http://iwillteachyoualanguage.com/ebook or email me in private if you prefer.

    Before I leave you, please take a moment to follow me on Twitter (@olly_IWTYAL), and join me on Facebook: here.

    All the best, and all power to you!!!

    Olly Richards

    ForewordOne : Lang-8.comWhat is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsTwo : Rhinosphike.com

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsThree : Flashcards Deluxe

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsFour : Lift.do

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsFive : iTalki.com

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsSix : Skype

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsSeven : Conversation Exchange.com

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsEight : Voice Recorder

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsNine : Keyboard input

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsTen : E-Dictionaries

    What is it?Where can I find it?How will it help me?TipsFinal words from Olly

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