Rocket Languages Blog 9 Useful Websites for Learning a New Language

9 Useful Websites for Learning a New Language

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Post by guest blogger Jamie McGhee: Jamie McGhee is a novelist, playwright and aspiring polyglot currently making her way through East Africa with a backpack.

Sure, you could thumb through an old textbook - or you could binge your favorite Netflix show with interactive subtitles.

You could struggle to stay awake in a classroom full of students, or you could receive direct tutoring from teachers around the world or interactive online lessons, on your time.

No matter how you learn best, you can say goodbye to traditional methods and take advantage of the creative resources specially curated to your learning style. Check out a few of our favorite language-learning websites.
 

Websites to Help with Immersion

1. HiNative 

When to use this website:

  • If you have specific, targeted questions you would like to ask a native speaker.
  • ​If you’re trying to understand a difficult concept and would like tips from other language-learners.
  • If you would like to assist people who are learning your native language.

​Features: 

  • Easy question-and-answer format
  • Database of thousands of questions that have been answered
  • The ability to chat and swap tips with other language-learners
When you’re learning on your own and get stuck on a difficult concept, HiNative is an excellent place to turn. Visit HiNative to receive explanations directly from native speakers. In fact, chances are that someone has already asked any questions that you have, so it just takes a quick search to see what’s been answered. You can also swap tips and encouraging messages with other language-learners.

The beautiful thing about HiNative is that it works both ways. Not only can you receive help with your language of choice, but you can also put your own native speaking skills to good use and help those who are struggling.


2. Language Learning with Netflix

When to use this website:

  • If you learn best from narratives.
  • If you want to pick up the slang and vernacular of a specific country.
  • If you want to familiarize yourself with the culture of a place.
Features:
  • A wide variety of materials made in the native country
  • Your favorite materials translated into your language of choice
  • Interactive subtitles
  • Pop-up dictionary
Netflix is great for unwinding after a long day. But it’s also great for increasing both your listening comprehension and your vocabulary in a fun way that hardly feels like learning.

Use this handy browser extension to add interactive subtitles to your favorite Netflix shows. Show subtitles simultaneously in two languages to compare your target language with your native tongue, and take advantage of the pop-up dictionary that highlights the most important words.

If you’re just beginning your target language, consider rewatching some of your favorite shows or movies in that language. Because you already know what’s going on, following the narrative and picking up new words will be simple.


If you’re a bit more advanced and want to dive into the culture itself, press play on TV shows that have been created in the country itself. Not only will you have something to converse with native speakers about, but you’ll also be able to pick up slang, practice your listening and tune your ear how people actually speak - it will sound a lot different from what you read in a textbook.
 

3. iTalki

When to use this website:

  • If you want to improve your conversational skills.
  • If you’ve been learning a language alone for some time and want to ask specific, targeted questions of tutors.
  • If you want to prepare for a standardized language certification test.
Features:
  • Affordable tutors
  • Tutors who speak a wide variety of languages in an even wider variety of dialects
  • The ability to schedule tutoring sessions when it’s convenient for your schedule
iTalki lessons are a great tool to supplement your self-learning, especially when it comes to conversation. You can schedule 30-, 45- or 60-minute tutoring sessions according to your own schedule. And because iTalki tutors hail from all over the world, you can zero in on the dialect you want to learn.

Many tutors offer a variety of lessons, meaning that you can pursue everything from casual conversation practice to targeted preparation for a language exam.

You can also target a single area that you want to improve. If you struggle with listening practice, for example, you might find it helpful to run drills with a tutor. If you can’t work out a particular grammar concept on your own, a tutor could explain it in a clear, straightforward way.
 

Dictionary Websites

4. WordReference

When to use this website: 

  • If you want to know what an unfamiliar word means. 
  • If you want to find synonyms for a word you already know.
  • If you come across a verb form you’re not familiar with.
Features:  
  • Dictionaries with synonyms and example phrases for a host of languages
  • Verb conjugation lists for Spanish, French and Italian
  • Handy user forum
This site can be a great go-to for a number of different languages and for a number of different problems. All you need to do is select the language  you’re looking for from the main drop-down menu, type in a word, and you’re off!

WordReference will provide you with a translation for the word, as well as (usually) some synonyms and example phrases. You’ll be able to see translations for common expressions that the word is used in, too. This will help you use the word correctly and avoid misunderstandings when talking to native speakers. 

What’s also very handy is that if you type in a verb, you’ll be told what form it’s in (for the most popular languages, at least!). So if you’re reading an article and come across a verb in an unfamiliar tense, you can pop it into WordReference and find out what tense you’re looking at.

The other useful feature of this site is its forum. WordReference has been around for a while, and if you are trying to find the answer to a question about grammar (like why both saber and conocer mean “to know” in Spanish), you’re sure to find that someone has already asked about it in the forum.
 

5. Reverso Context

When to use this website:

  • If you want to know how a word or phrase is used in context. 
  • If you have heard a colloquial or slang phrase and want to find out more about how it’s used.
Features:
  • Translations in context for numerous languages
  • Conjugation lists
The Reverso site in general has a lot of different features, but we’ve found the most useful to be the Reverso Context search engine and Reverso Conjugation.

With Reverso Context, you can plug a word into the search field, select the languages you want to translate between, and go! You’ll be given results with the exact word or phrase that you search for. Since you can see it in context, this tool can help you to understand how and when certain words or phrases are used, and what they mean. It also includes slang or more casual expressions.

Reverso Conjugation, on the other hand, lets you enter a verb and see its conjugation lists. This can be helpful if you need to look up a specific form of a specific verb.
 

6. Linguee

When to use this website:

  • If you want to know how a more formal word or phrase is used in context. 
  • If you’re looking for alternatives to a phrase you already know.
Features: 
  • Translations in context for numerous languages
  • Dictionary results
If you select the language pairs you want to work with in Linguee and enter a word or phrase, you’ll get translation results from their dictionary followed by context examples.

Linguee doesn’t always give you exact matches for what you’ve searched. So, you can also see how what you’ve searched for might be phrased differently.

Linguee often includes results from more official or serious texts, and so is better if you’re looking for formal phrasing.
 

7. Stack Exchange

When to use this website:

  • If you need help distinguishing the often fine lines between words’ different meanings.
Features: 
  • Answers to common linguistic questions
The Stack Exchange is another resource that contains questions that other people have asked and the answers that they’ve been given. These can often help you narrow down the  different nuances in meaning between words.

There are different Stack Exchanges for different languages. You can find them easily by typing in “[language].stackexchange.com.”

 

Websites with Language-Learning Articles and Resources

8. BBC Languages

When to use this website:

  • If you would like to learn using news and current events.
  • If you learn best from videos and audio recordings.
Features:
  • Interactive videos and news clips
  • More than 30 languages
  • News and current events from around the world
As far as online language-learning options go, the BBC falls a bit more on the traditional side. Here, you will find all of the typical materials you may in a classroom, such as videos, articles and grammar exercises. You can also find listening activities and themed vocabulary lists.

However, the BBC does come with some perks. Because the site is driven by, as the name would suggest, the British Broadcasting Channel, here you will find a treasure trove of articles, current events, opinion pieces and news briefs from around the world. If you’re extremely interested in world affairs or if you learn best from reading, this is a great resource.

The BBC also throws in more eclectic offerings as well. For example, they have an interactive video series that puts you in control of the narrative, and which makes sure that you understand the vocabulary - it’s a great way to advance from being a passive observer to an active participant!
 

9. Rocket Languages

When to use this website:

  • If you are looking for a structured, easy-to-understand approach to language learning. 
  • If you want to get conversational in a language and practice speaking out loud.
  • If you want to connect to other language learners.
Features: 
  • 20-30-minute Interactive Audio lessons that prompt you to speak out loud
  • Language lessons that explain step-by-step how the mechanics of a language work
  • Culture lessons with information on local culture and life
  • Voice recognition technology to perfect your pronunciation
  • Reinforcement tests to make words and phrases stick forever
  • Handy user forum

This sounds like a shameless plug, but it’s true that the site you’re already on can actually be a great resource for more than just straight studying and practicing. 

The Language & Culture lessons in your Rocket Languages course give you actual full explanations for some tricky grammar and vocabulary concepts. This means that you don’t have to piece together answers from multiple sources to come to a full understanding of the concept.

In addition, the Rocket Languages forum is another great resource for seeing what questions other people have asked and what answers they’ve been given. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, you can ask a question yourself. You’ll receive replies from fellow forum users. But our language tutors also keep an eye on the forum to jump on the trickier questions. That’s how you know you can trust the answers that you’ve been given.

Not a Rocket Languages member yet? If you'd like to try our courses out, you can sign up for a completely free lifetime-access trial.
 

Try something new!

Whether you learn best by thumbing through dictionary websites like Linguee, from one-on-one conversation practice on iTalki or from a structured learning method on Rocket Languages, the internet offers a wide variety of resources. Say goodbye to your old learning methods and experiment to find which resource is right for you. 

What’s your favorite website for learning a new language? Have you discovered any game-changing ones lately?

Leave your answer in the comments!

PaulG63

Thank you for putting this together! C'est très apprécié. People have different learning styles/needs and this certainly covers numbers of options. I can personally speak for iTalki as I have found the 1:1 conversation and immediate correction to be an excellent addition to the extensive phrase and word resource on Rocket. I will have to check out the BBC site as the exposure to media in french will be another positive layer. Don't get me wrong, this journey is challenging, but the more hours of life in french the more I am getting it. Encore une fois, merci.

Steven-W15

Terrific list, thanks. I've found "yabla" (3 - 5 min videos with exercises) to be an excellent complement to Rocket Spanish as it hones listening skills with a tremendous variety of accents.
 

NancyB31

Good morning. I checked out the BBC Languages website and it is no longer supported.  Though they have interesting old content on the site, my apple software cannot connect to the video clips and such.  
I look forward any new sites that can be found. 

ClaudiaR13

What an incredible article!  Thanks for the update.  I know I will be using several of these resources.

Alice101

Thank you so much for this article! I love the recommendation for Rocket! :0)
 

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