There’s a lot of debate about how much to use an English Language Learner’s native language in studying English. Certainly, a straight translation methodology all of the time is not the way to go.
However, I’ve found that, particularly with newcomers, providing them with access to an Internet resource that provides some native-language support can be a real confidence-booster. Pretty quickly, though, they often move away from those sites of their own accord.
There are quite a few newer “learn-a-language” sites that provide multilingual support from a social network. There are others that offer translation help for a smaller number of languages.
My intent behind creating this latest “The Best…” list was to identify sites that provide teacher-created content; do not require any registration; are free; and, except in one instance (where I identify what my students and I are think is the best bilingual English/Spanish site), provide resources in many languages, including ones that are not widely-used.
Here are my choices for The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English:
Bilingual Quizzes From Activities For ESL Students is a project of the Internet TESL Journal. You can find a ton of quizzes using multiple multiple languages here.
Goethe Tests covers vocabulary and language tests in twenty-five different languages.
For an English/Spanish site, there’s no question that Pumarosa, created by teacher Paul Rogers, is a great resource for Spanish speakers.
The Cultural Orientation Resource Center has put their extraordinary collection of refugee phrasebooks online and free for download.
Here’s how they describe this incredibly useful resource:
These phrasebooks are designed to supply refugees with the appropriate English phrases and supplementary vocabulary for use in the daily activities of American life (rather than simply word-to-word translations, as in a dictionary). Phrases contained in the books have been selected for their directness, brevity and relevance to the needs of newly arrived residents of the United States. Among the nineteen units included are sections on “Giving Information About Yourself,” “Recognizing Signs,” “Dealing With Money,” “Health,” “Food,” “Clothing,” “Housing,” and “Jobs.”
Each phrasebook is approximately 140 pages and can be downloaded for free.
They are available in these languages: Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Cantonese, Czech, Farsi, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Hungarian, Khmer, Lao, Polish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Duolingo looks like it’s a pretty decent language-learning site.
Lingo Hut seems like a pretty impressive site for beginning learners of many different languages, including English. Using a drop-down menu, you can easily select your native language and the language you want to learn, and then progress through a well-designed series of exercises including reading, listening and speaking.
Duo Reading has a limited collection of materials that show content in English and in another language at the same time.
Storybooks Canada and World Stories are two sites with many bilingual and multilingual stories. I particularly liked World Stories because it has bilingual books in English/Pashto, and those are hard to find.
Optilingo is a new site for learning multiple languages.
Clozemaster lets you learn multiple languages through an intriguing system.
— 🌍 ναℓєηтιηα gσηzαℓєz (@ValentinaESL) March 7, 2022
Roxxem is a new site where learners of Spanish, French or Chinese can acquire the language through music.
Quazel is an intriguing new site that helps you learn a language through an Artificial Intelligence powered audio text chat. I tried it out in Spanish, and it seemed to work well. Unfortunately, it all seems designed to assist English-speakers learn different languages so there is no option to learn English.
Weeve looks like an interesting way to learn languages, though it doesn’t include English right now. It lets you read a book in your home language, with a gradually increasing number of words in the target language replacing them.
Memrise has expanded its language-learning tools.
Voice of America Learning English has begun bilingual video courses for people learning English, and whose first languages are ones spoken in Ethiopia, Mali, Congo, along with ones in Korean, French and Vietnamese. It’s an interesting list – I wonder how they determined it?
Soofy is a new AI-powered tool for learning multiple languages. You have to pay, but it offers the first two months free. It looks interesting. Even though it charges, for now, I’m adding it here.
LangoTalk is a new app using AI to help you learn multiple languages.
Tandem GPT and TalkPal are free online tools using AI to teach languages. Tandem seems better designed to teach at different levels, and allows you to chat with a bot by text. You can speak to it by audio, but it will only respond via text. TalkPal doesn’t seem as well-designed, but you hear the audio of the bot, as well as speak to it.
Sentence Builders looks like a great site if you teach a language other than English.
Kansei use AI to help teach a variety of languages. I don’t think it will work well with ELLs because the feedback it gives is in fairly high level English, but it could help in learning other languages.
As always, please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section.
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