Resources for learning [spoken] languages

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Here are some resources that I constantly use to polish my foreign language skills. No, nothing beats going to language courses, but if you need some cheat sheets, or if you’re rusty with a particular language, you could use these:

  • German

One of the tougher languages out there, with its demanding grammar and genders in articles.

  1. ielanguages.com has 5 pages of grammar cheat sheet that you could use.
  2. dict.cc is one of the better online dictionaries out there, considering that it provides tables that shows the conjugations of the word
  3. JunkFoodTaster is a delightful YouTube channel, where a German guy tries out and reviews junk food in both English and German.
  • Spanish

Believe it or not, I tried to learn Spanish before taking German, because at the time I was also considering to study in US.

  1. Again, ielanguages.com has great grammar cheat sheets
  2. Coffee Break Spanish is one of the best language podcasts out there, if you are trying to pick up Spanish, this is a very valuable podcast.
  • Japanese

One of the more ambiguous language out there, but with fairly consistent grammar.

  1. Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese is probably one of the best guide out there for Japanese grammar. Not only that, it also provides exercises for each chapter.
  2. Jisho.org is fairly useful online Japanese dictionary. I prefer the dictionary on my mac though
  3. Rikai.com is a very useful online tool that can annotate any Japanese article that you’re reading, and provide explanation for every word that you hovered your mouse cursor over.
  4. I watch Itte Q fairly regularly. It’s a funny Japanese variety show, showing different culture and festivals around the world. Probably only useful when you’re already confident enough in your Japanese.
  • Mandarin

Sadly, since I grew up with it, and my native language is a Chinese dialect, I just acquired it naturally. My accent is more of Taiwanese’s than Mainland Chinese’s though.

  1. MDBG.net is a fairly good online Mandarin dictionary. It shows you the pinyin, the Cantonese equivalent, the audio pronunciation, etc.
  2. I watch 美食大三通 (mei3 shi2 da4 san1 tong1) pretty often. It’s a Taiwanese foodie show, where the hosts travel around the world to try out different cuisines. It’s Taiwanese, so the subtitles are in traditional chinese, the accent is Taiwanese, and sometimes they’d interject some Hokkien into it. But it’s entertaining.
  • Indonesian

One of the easiest languages in the world, but it barely has any value, unless if you’re working there or in Malaysia.

  1. ielanguages.com has an okay page detailing the grammar. Hmm, can’t say much about the grammar, since we don’t even have the concept of paste tense.

Have fun picking up new language. It’d be probably easier if you could find friends who can speak in the language that you’d like to learn.

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