Resources for beginners in language learning

Learning a language is one of the most common resolutions in the beginning of the year. And, I always get emails from people asking for advice. To help these people to learn a language in 2016, here are the resources I recommend.


Aslogoassimilanimesimil is always the first course feature on my list; Assimil took the first place on my list after I finished the French course, see the review here. The course is simple; the lessons are short and progressive. Grammar is explained, but it is not the focus of the course and the vocabulary is fairly extensive.


All FSI courses are alike, but some are better than others. They are old, some more fitted to diplomatic situations. The courses are dense, sometimes difficult and boring. Take a look at my review of the FSI French course here and decide whether to use it or not. For me, is the perfect complement to Assimil. Here you can find the courses for free.

Grammar book

Grammar is part of a language, and to speak and write well you need to know at least the basics. There is a wide range of books; I made a post about the books that I know here. But don’t overdo it. One grammar book is often enough.

Language partner


There are several websites that offer linguistic exchanges. The most famous of them is italkiVladimir Skultety who was interviewed here, created another option the website SharedLingo.

Vocabulary & Writing

Use an application for learning vocabulary, as Duolingo, Anki or Memrise. Each has its own style and you can customize your own phrases with photos, audio, etc. Moreover, what about to train your new vocabulary writing a bit? Two good options are Lang-8 and again, Italki.

There are many more resources. But to get start and achieve a good level (B1, maybe B2) these resources are more than enough.

Review of Pimsleur German – I, II & III

This is one of the reviews I was eager to do. Pimsleur is a very famous course, loved by some, hated by others. And, I finally tested it to see how Pimsleur works.

The course

The linguist Paul Pimsleur (1927-1976), based on his research on language learning, developed a method of organic learning that brings together three factors, these factors are: verbal intelligence, auditory ability and motivation. The result was the Pimsleur method.

The course is audio-based. There are 30 units per level, each of which lasts about 30 minutes. In addition to the regular lessons, they offer a booklet, the only written material of the course (accompanied, of course, by audio). Each of these small lessons lasts between 2 and 5 minutes, they help to improve pronunciation. In total, there are more than 53 hours of audio.

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Review Audiotrainer – Deutsche Welle

This is my third review of a Deutsche Welle´s course. Here’s the review of the Mission Europe course and here of the course Radio D.

The course

The Audiotrainer is the simplest course of Deutsche Welle, the course has two main objectives: to help improve pronunciation and to gain vocabulary. Continue reading

Christmas gifts for polyglots

We are almost a month away from Christmas and polyglots, like everyone else, love to receive Christmas presents, but in a more nerdy way. Check out some tips to give a present to a polyglot friend, son, partner or even yourself.

  1. Assimil

Assimil is one of my favorite methods; you can check my review of the French course here. The course focus on dialogues with few grammatical explanations. All dialogs are translated in the other side of the page. Each course has its own dialogues. For Francophones, there are over 70 languages courses available, so it is probably the reason that Assimil is the most popular course in France. For English speakers, there are only 12 languages ​​courses available, for Spanish speakers there are 13 courses and for Portuguese speakers there are only 5 courses. Continue reading

How to keep the inactive languages

As I said before, I don’t like to study two languages ​​at the same time. Personally, I need to dedicate as much time as possible to the language I’m learning and it’s hard to do that with two languages ​​at the same time. But, that doesn’t mean that I stay away from the languages I don’t actively study. I try to keep a minimum contact with the languages ​​that are inactive, but in a way that they don’t interfere in the language that I am studying. The way I found to do that is using my “dead” time, leisure time or at work (if that don’t disturb me). Below, I list how. Continue reading

How to enrich your reading with audio

Reading in another language is a great activity to acquire more vocabulary, to learn more expressions, to immerse yourself in the target language, plus, you increase your cultural knowledge. But how to boost this activity?

Igor Barca

Reading with audio is one of the best ways I found to study a language. The only drawback is that you must be prepared to manage two media: your text and you audio file. But I assure you, nothing better than to hear a native reading while you follow the text.

The association word-pronunciation is strengthened and you begin to realize that you were pronouncing words incorrectly or that one word has more than one pronunciation. Reading and listening to a poem at the same time can be a great way to start applying this technique, since,  for the most part, the poem is a short text and contains rhythm and rhymes, elements that facilitate and invite the reader to read aloud. Although a book is (almost) always longer than a poem, you can still follow the reading with a certain ease. Another benefit is that you can retrocede the audio when you want to solve a doubt about pronunciation.

I know it may sound crazy, it looks like you will not be able to concentrate on both at once, but if you try, you will see that is not like that. It’s a matter of habit; adaptation is faster than you think.

This method also works great for when you are unable to focus on a very boring book, required by the university, for example. I can’t tell how many books I’ve read in this way and for that reason: from Shakespeare to Proust, all the books that I considered boring or difficult were read exactly like that. There are some sites that you can use to undertake this task. I’ll show links in five languages: Continue reading

Review Hugo Advanced French

Hugo Advanced CD Language Course is a continuation of the book French in Three Months (Hugo), course I didn’t try. That means that, to use this course is not necessary to have studied French in Three Months (Hugo), if you already have an intermediate level in the language you can use the advanced course straight away.

As stated before the course is for those who already have at least an intermediate level and want to improve his skills or review the French language.

How is the book?

The book has 9 chapters. Each chapter has:

  • An introductory text
  • A main text with the translation of unusual vocabulary
  • Brief grammatical and lexical explanations and some common expressions and slangs.
  • Exercises

Additionally, after the lesson n° 5 and n° 9, there is a self-assessment test.

The CDs, in addition to the narration of the texts, also have the oral practice of some exercises that are in the book.

Hugo french advanced Continue reading

Japanese Animation Movies – Studio Ghibli – Part 2

Grave of the Fireflies – Hotaru no haka – 火 垂 る の 墓

The film tells the story of two brothers, Seita and Setsuko, during the World War II in Japan. Their father works in the Japanese Navy, and their mother died after being burned during a bombing raid. Since then, the two have to learn to survive in the middle of chaos that the country is facing.

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Japanese Animation Movies – Studio Ghibli – Part 1

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Majo no Takkyūbin – 魔女 の 宅急便

Kiki is a 13 years witch in training and following witches’ tradition, she leaves her village with her cat Jiji. She arrives in Koriko, after some misadventures she founds shelter and work in a bakery shop. The film explores the difficulties that growth brings, as well talent and creativity issues.

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