5 essential tech tools for language learning.

January 19, 2017 / by Britta Wilhelmsen

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Welcome to the Digital Age, where computers, smartphones, and fitbits have already revolutionized the way we interact and exchange information. Thanks to technical advancements like these, it’s now easier than ever to learn a new skill with just a few clicks - and language learning is no exception. The fact that 90% of students now have access to a mobile device and/or computer has given traditional, paper-based learning systems a run for their money.


In the classroom, technology-based programs help teachers cater to multiple learning styles while giving students a more fun, interactive experience. This hands-on aspect is what Mango’s all about. In the spirit of the times, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite technologies that are playing a huge role in the language learning process today. Make sure you have a charger on hand!

 

Skype.

If you’re like us and have traveled to more places than you can count, this one is probably your best friend. Skype, like most of the technologies on this list, was not created specifically for language learners - but it’s become one of the most convenient ways to have a conversation with real, native speakers from the comfort of your own home. Decades ago, an English language learner in Japan might have struggled to find someone to practice English with. Skype has changed that.
Besides connecting language learners with native speakers around the globe, Skype allows for more personalized, customizable lessons. Some learn best by simply having a casual conversation with their language partner, while others prefer grammar drills or a question/answer method. Because you’re speaking with a real person in real time, the options are endless - and you can ensure you’re getting the most out of your experience.


Your GPS.

That’s right. The same little talking screen that saved your road trip over the summer could also be your next language learning champion. How? It’s easy - just switch the directions into your target language. You’ll be listening and following commands given to you in a new language, which is extremely beneficial for the learning process. Research has actually proven that task-based learning, or following a set of directions that are relevant to your daily life, is highly effective. Not only are there consequences if you don’t complete them (you end up at the wrong destination), but there is also a clear context in place to help you understand the unfamiliar language a little bit better. You can bet we’re switching our GPS systems as you read this.

 

Netflix.

Ever heard of the saying, “Netflix and learn?” We might have just created it, but trust us - once you realize how easy it is to incorporate language learning into your weekend Netflix binge, you’ll never look back. Choose a film or TV show from Netflix’s broad international selection, switch on those subtitles (make sure they’re in your target language!), and repeat. The authentic speech and body language is what makes watching foreign films so effective for the learning process. Plus, when you have subtitles to help out, you’ll be able to associate the words with the sounds you’re hearing.
Eager for some more practice using foreign films? We don’t blame you. Mango also uses interactive film-based learning to really hone in on those comprehension skills. Spend some time with Netflix on top of that, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering your target language.


Interactive e-books.

Whether you have a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPad mini, what really matters is the language learning content you’ve got on there. E-books are a convenient, valuable resource for learning on the go. It takes seconds to download a book in your target language and start reading, and you can do it from essentially anywhere in the world. If you’re not ready to read a full book in your new language, there’s a large selection of e-books designed specifically for language learners. Many include audio lessons to supplement the text while you follow along - and most are free!

 

Podcasts.

Like foreign films, podcasts are a great tool for improving the listening comprehension aspect of language learning. For some great examples to get you started, check out The Guardian’s list of the top 10 podcasts for learning a language (we especially love News in Slow, which presents current news stories to listeners at a nice, easy pace). The sheer variety is perhaps what makes podcasts such useful tools - there is something available to suit every interest and learning style out there. While you’re at it, make sure to check out Mango’s Soundcloud page where we feature our interviews with language lovers of all walks of life - from language educators and activists to professional polyglots.

 

If you’re feeling ready to make technology a bigger part of your language learning journey, we salute you! There’s a whole lot of options, so it’s helpful to try out a few different tools before you decide what works best. Of course, we might be a bit biased when it comes to our top pick - after all, Mango’s got the best of audio, film, culture notes, and interactive dialogue combined into one portable interface. Check to see if your local library offers our courses for free today, and don’t forget to spice them up with a couple of the technologies listed above. Click "Find Mango" below to start learning a language with Mango for free today!

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Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Britta Wilhelmsen

Written by Britta Wilhelmsen

Britta is a University of Michigan graduate, currently living and working in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she's not busy teaching English to business professionals or writing for Mango, you can find her enjoying the sun in one of Buenos Aires' beautiful parks and/or studying Spanish in her free time. Like many mangos, she believes that language consistently makes life more colorful.

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