Italki (referral link) is an online community of language learners and teachers to help you take whatever foreign language you’re learning to the next level.
What’s cool about it is that you can learn directly from home via Skype on your own schedule and skip the traditional school curriculum – which I love because I’ve always been a rebel.
It’s totally affordable, too. I spend $10 an hour with my tutor Giulia – a native speaker – for each 45-minute session, and the lessons are based on what I want to learn, which helps me retain information because I’m genuinely interested.
This style also encourages me to take note of the areas I need to strengthen throughout the week when I watch Italian movies, read books or newspapers, and talk to friends from Italy.
Signing up with Italki is completely free, and you can use the site to find language partners for free until you feel ready to hire an informal or professional teacher.
Go to Italki (referral link) and start tackling those problem areas you’ve been dealing with alone, like those pesky prepositions, the endlessly confusing sentence structure, and that subjunctive tense that’s been driving you crazy.
Visit Italki (referral link) now and sign up for a free account.
Rhinospike – Once you write a composition and have it corrected on Italki, one of the best ways to practice the language is to hear the words you wrote being repeated to you in the target language for the emotional connection to your own story.
Rhinospike lets you submit compositions and a native speaker of Italian will record them. In exchange you find a composition written in your native language and record it for someone else.
Memrise uses mems, audio, and constant practice to help you learn.
You can choose mems that are most likely to stick in your memory, and you can make them as well, which will earn you extra points for contributing. It has a game-like feel as you are moving up levels, racing against the clock and gaining points.
Anki is my favorite spaced repetition memory flash card program (not that there are a whole bunch to choose from or anything).
You create a deck, add vocabulary, and start learning. Based on what level of understanding you have of each word/phrase, you will see it repeated in minutes, days, or months.
They also have a neat iPhone app, which makes learning on the go much more convenient. However, the app isn’t free.
Want to find out how to use it? Click here to watch this quick video tutorial.
Pleco – Pleco is my FAVORITE Mandarin dictionary, and it’s available on iPhone, iPad, and Android. I love it because each word typically comes with a sample sentence and audio. What’s more, I can save words that I want to add to my Anki deck later into a favorites list.
MandarinSpot – Besides being an amazing dictionary which shows pronunciation in either Pinyin or Zhuyin along with frequency, it’s also an annotation tool. So you can copy and paste any text in Chinese and have it annotated with your preferred pronunciation system and read definitions of the key words.
Mandarin Language + Culture Videos
MandarinMadeEZ – This site is run by Fiona Tian (who is also involved with ChinesePod), and her videos are a beautiful blend of comedy and information. My favorite video is Better Ways to Say “I don’t understand” in Chinese.
CrazyFreshChinese – Jessica Beinecke, better known as BaiJie, is the closest thing I can think of to a Mandarin teacher celebrity. Her videos are super short + awesome because she teaches phrases about entertainment, slang, and things you would say with friends. My favorite video is her teaching us how to say Katy Perry in Mandarin.
Mandarin Language Courses
Chinese Learn Online – This online audio/transcript program is one of the only ones that I’ve found that specifically caters to learning Mandarin from Taiwan. Right now they have over 700 lessons and each one builds on the next in a progressive way. I am OBSESSED with it because it really helped me get over the wall I had built for myself with Mandarin in terms of mindset, sentence structure, and pronunciation.
Language Hacking Blogs
Fluent in 3 Months – Benny is a boss at language hacking. He has these awesome mini-missions where he learns languages in, as the name says, 3 months. His tips are invaluable, and his Irish accent makes me happy. Definitely get on his newsletter list & check out his Language Hacking Guide.
Read this guest post I wrote here: 9 Reasons You’re Hitting Language Learning Walls ( & How to Break Through Them to Finally Become Fluent)
The Polyglot Dream – This language blogger is Italian. When I discovered his blog and found this out, I was immediately thrilled and obviously biased. He has really detailed posts about language structure, so if you’re a language nerd, you’ll be all over it.
Lingholic – Sam reads a lot of great books on language learning, and she shares a ton of information that will help you up your game. Subscribe to his list. It’s a must.