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 FSI French courses

The courses were created by the Foreign Service Institute and were intended for diplomats. The courses are old, but well structured. Courses in some languages are available on this site. There is not problem in downloading because the contents are in the public domain.

How the FSI courses work?

In the first part is presented a dialogue that must be memorized. The dialogues usually contain vocabulary that will be used in the chapter and grammatical points.

The second part is the course longest and contains many exercises with repetition.

The third part of the chapter has some tests, usually a translation of written phrases. Continue reading

Explaining my study routine

As I said in my last post, since Monday (10/07) I’m putting what I’m studying on twitter to anyone curious.

Materials and Methods



For grammar I use a book in the traditional form.  A book with a lot of exercises to fill blanks and verb conjugation.

I am currently using the workbook “Diccionario práctico de gramática “.

Some materials I use: FSI French, DVDs in Spanish, Ipod and grammar books.

Some materials I use: FSI French, DVDs in Spanish, Ipod and grammar books.


To improve my level of understanding I do the following activities:

Continue reading

Study Methods for Foreign Language Learners – Part 3

Now let’s talk about the materials available for self-learners.



The complete course costs about US$ 200 and the basic one about US$ 30. Does worth the price? Well, if you’re a disciplined person, sure. Linguaphone method follows this simple methodology: to listen,to understand and to speak.

There is more than one type of course, and you should be aware of the differences.

The PDQ Course aims those people who want learn the basics, contains 4 CDs and the vocabulary guide.

The All Talk series contains 16 CDs and a small vocabulary guide. Aims people who doesn’t have regular time to study and affirm take the learner to the intermediate level.

The PDQ and AllTalk series are the cheaper, but I do not recommend them. The older versions would be a much better purchase, but they are a little bit hard to find. The series below are currently the best courses from Linguaphone:

The Complete CD Course and the 2nd Stage CD course; both courses claim take the student to the advanced/expert level. Besides the CDs they also have textbooks ad exercise books.

Positive aspects: you can study almost anywhere and covers multiple aspects of the language. The pronunciation is clear. Apparently, the older courses are better, so if you have the chance buy the books of the 50’s to 70’s.

Negative aspects: Learners describes that the new series like PDQ are for “tourist” type of student, as they not deepening in the main aspects of the language. Besides that, some students complain that isn’t an easy course for beginners and have a fast pace, with not enough repetition. It’s only available for the main languages. And the audio only courses aren’t good as the traditional material.


Teach Yourself series are available in several languages (60) and that is probably the series major quality. Compare to others methods it’s also cheaper, the price range between US$10-US$ 70, however some courses can be a little bit more expensive. Continue reading