Reviews

Hundreds of resources to help you teach yourself

Digital Dialects: Some Cute and Actually Useful Games, in Many Languages

4 Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Multimedia, Tests, Vocabulary, Websites, Kids

The Digital Dialects website is an unexpected online pleasure full of free language games for 60 languages, from popular ones such as French and German to less widely studied ones such as Zazaki (spoken primarily in eastern Turkey) and Oromo (which…

Free Quizzes on the Transparent Language Website

Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Yiddish, Tests, Websites

I like free online quizzes and tests, but they aren’t really worth anything unless they’re good.  At least some of these from language-learning company Transparent Language seem pretty good! And plentiful: they are available for more languages…

Transparent Language Online: Try It for Free!

3-5 Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Yiddish, Multimedia, Websites

Nashua, N.H.-based Transparent Language offers a free seven-day trial of its Transparent Language Online products.  When I say “products,” I really mean plural: during the trial you can try out any and all languages they have, and…

For All Your Pinyin Needs

3-5 Mandarin, Audio Lessons, Websites

I read about this pronunciation table in Yong Ho’s book Beginner’s Chinese. Mandarin has amazingly few sound combinations—only around 400 different syllables, versus many multiples of that in English—so they can all be stuck in…

Beginner's Chinese: A Friendly Introduction

4 Mandarin, Books, Multimedia

This book by Yong Ho is for beginners, but I decided I needed to do a bunch of Pimsleur Chinese audio lessons first, before starting it, and I’m glad I did. Despite its inviting name, Beginner’s…

iTunes: for the Latest Hits, and Chinese Nouns, Too!

3 Mandarin, Audio Lessons, Vocabulary

VocabuLearn Mandarin Chinese comes in three different levels, for a total of nine hours of vocabulary instruction. I tried only the first level for Mandarin, but I have logged many VocabuLearn hours across a number of languages and would say…

Schoenhof's Website Is a Window to the World

5 Arabic, Dutch, English, French, General, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Yiddish, Websites, Bookstores/Libraries, Kids

Founded in 1856, Schoenhof’s claims to have the “largest collection of foreign books in North America.” As a student at Harvard, I used to shop at their main store in Harvard Square for my language and literature course materials. I…

A Brightly Colored Block

5 Mandarin, Neighborhoods

This Chinatown in western Brooklyn is the furthest thing possible from a tourist trap. It is a large and thriving community and well worth a visit. To get there, take the N train to the 8th Avenue stop in Brooklyn…

Mandarin Tone Quiz: I Hope You Do Better Than I Did the First Time

4 Mandarin, Tests

This 10-question quiz on About.com will score your Mandarin tone recognition capability. I will not tell you my original score, because it’s too embarrassing. However, the good news is that doing the Mandarin tone quiz helped me improve…