If you want to improve your vocabulary in any foreign language or if you already speak a foreign language pretty well and just want to maintain it, look no further than the 50languages website. However, no site will help you if you don’t work with it systematically. Read this detailed guide where I explain how you can use it, even if you only have 5-10 minutes a day or if you just want to learn on your commute by listening to audio recordings.
Today, I want to show you an amazing language learning site – www.50languages.com It doesn’t matter what language you’re learning. You will almost certainly find it here since there are as many as 50 languages to choose from, and, hooray, it also contains material for smaller languages. The content of the entire website is free and it doesn’t require registration.
When you open the website, select your native language from all the available languages. Then choose which language you want to learn. Everything is set up, let’s start!
On the website, you will find several units to choose from. Click on the Lessons tab and select the topic you are interested in. You will be presented with sentences and their incomplete translations.
What to do next?
I always recommend saying the answer out loud first and only then clicking on the incomplete sentence in a foreign language. The missing parts of the words will be filled in and you can verify that you said it correctly. This kind of exercise will take you 5-10 minutes. If you feel like it, you can always try to do more during the day.
However, it is very important to do this exercise systematically. What does it mean? If you sometimes don’t know a certain word, hesitate over it for too long, or you make a mistake in a sentence, don’t just move on, thinking that you will remember it next time. For example, copy sentences that you cannot translate 100% correctly into a text editor and then use your favorite vocabulary-learning method to learn them. Whether it’s the Goldlist method, the Anki app or something else, it’s important that you encounter those sentences again.
Why are these exercises so great?
Þ Sentences don’t use words in their infinitive forms. They are declined and conjugated (if applicable for the given language), so you don’t learn words in their basic forms.
Þ Sentences are built in a way to contain the most frequent vocabulary.
Þ You have an opportunity to listen to audio recordings of the sentences read by native speakers – both male and female. Just click on the grey button to the right of the sentence you want to translate. You don’t have to listen to an unpleasant robotic voice and you also hear the sentence twice. Amazing, right?
You can download the audio recordings in MP3 format under each lesson.
How should you work with the recordings?
Þ Always do the exercises on your computer first.
Þ Determine which sentences are problematic and process them using the vocabulary-learning method of your choice. For this, you should find a quiet moment when nobody is disturbing you.
Þ Then, play the audio files from the lesson that you did 5 days ago without transcription. This means that you complete one lesson every day, take notes from it and after you take five of them, you go back to the first one and only listen to the recordings from this lesson. At the same time, just continue with the following lessons on your computer as you’d normally do. This is the easiest way to remember the expressions that cause you trouble. It will be more effective than listening to new recordings you have never seen transcribed before.
Tip: I recommend downloading audio recordings from your native language into the target language, not the other way round. You can then listen to these recordings at any time, for example, in the car, on a walk, or whenever you don’t have to focus on what you are doing.
Exercises are not the only way to use this website. When you click on the Apps tab in the menu, you will see the 50languages mobile app which you can download, e.g. via Google Play or App Store. The app is good too, but if you want to listen to something for the first time, you must wait a while for it to download. Personally, I prefer going to the website, downloading those files via my computer and just copying them to my phone.
Another amazing part of the website are tests (available only in certain languages).
How can you take a test?
Þ You can choose between two levels – basic and advanced. In both levels, you choose words from the top of the page and fill them in. The vocabulary is a bit more difficult (B1-B2) at the advanced level.
Þ You can easily click on the answers, but I recommend that you don’t even look at the options provided. Try to type them in by yourself, they usually aren’t too complicated.
Þ If you have no idea what word to fill in, you can click on the question mark symbol next to the sentence which will give you one letter of the correct answer to help you. Once you’ve figured out what word should go there, simply type the rest of it in.
You should take the tests systematically as well, for example, two tests a day, and again, put the difficult expressions into your Goldlist notebook or Anki app. This will probably take about 15 minutes. Preferably, you should do it right after you sit down at your computer and before you start doing anything else. If you prefer working with printed materials, you can print out the tests as well.
Why are the tests so great?
The tests are not divided by topic. On the contrary, they are mostly random. Therefore, you can easily find out where you have gaps in your language knowledge and what you need to work on.
You can play a Memory game on the website! Whenever you find a word pair, you will also hear it pronounced. It is a nice and playful form of learning, but I do not recommend it as your primary one. The words in the game are always isolated, which is not good for vocabulary acquisition, and besides, it is not systematic either. It is better to go through the exercises and tests and see the memo game only as additional practice or a reward for your achievements. In the memo game, you can also choose the topic you want to practice, so if, for example, you go through a certain topic in the exercises, you can then test your knowledge in this playful way.
When you move the cursor to the Learn tab, a menu drops down. Select “Vocabulary” and a visual dictionary will appear with the option of listening to the pronunciation of each word. You can also view words by topic. This method can be of further help for visual learners. Be sure not to choose it as your main learning method, since the words in the dictionary are isolated as well, which is not as effective as learning phrases in context. The downside is that you see the word in both languages at once, so you don’t have to think about the translation and there’s a smaller chance of learning it. Nevertheless, many people like this section of the website for its interesting and often funny pictures.
Þ A huge advantage of this website is that you can work with two foreign languages and use the language you are better at to learn the other one. You can combine the 50 languages as you like, which is absolutely amazing. I also recommend it to those who are learning two similar foreign languages, such as Italian and Spanish. Thanks to these exercises, you will not mix them up so much.
Þ If you prefer learning from a book, you have the option to do so. You can buy everything that’s on the website in the given language combination in a book form, in which you can write and highlight the phrases as you wish.
Despite a few drawbacks, this website is an extremely useful tool for learning languages. It is amazing that you can find so many languages in one place, quite possibly also your mother tongue, even if it’s considered a minority language. You can easily combine which language you will learn through which. However, it is vital that you use it systematically and always use the vocabulary-learning method of your choice to further practice the sentences and expressions you found difficult. Audio recordings read by native speakers will be extremely helpful as well. This website is great for everyone! All you need to do is find a system in your learning that you will follow for at least a few minutes a day and I am sure that after some time, you will see the first results.
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