Duolingo is a free (yes, with a capital F-R-E-E) and effective language-learning website that offers Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German lessons. They are still working on adding Mandarin and Japanese, so I'm afraid some of you may have to wait til further announcement. A study has been commissioned by Duolingo to find out its effectiveness compared to Rosetta Stone ( another popular language-learning website but you have to actually pay). You can read the complete report HERE.
|Skill tree to track your progress. Click image to enlarge|
For those who already mastered the basics, you can skip ahead to the intermediate or advanced stuff by "unlocking" the shortcuts. The reason I signed up in Duolingo is because I wanted to review my Spanish vocabulary plus the basics and intermediate stuff that I've learned in school (and I hope I can get a headstart when I enroll in my program's Advance Spanish course when it's available muhaha). Duolingo has a simple and visual format; very Google-like and one of the best parts of this site is that lessons are game-ified. You can compare points and levels with friends through Facebook.
One of the main reasons Duolingo is free is because you can practice your translation skills at the "Real world practice" portal where you get to translate real-world content.
|Click to enlarge|
While Duolingo may not replace conversational language practice (it's still best to interact with a native speaker or immerse yourself in the culture of the language you're learning i.e. travel, music, movies, books), Duolingo is a great alternative to learning a new language.
For those who have a few hours free each week, you can enroll in any of Coursera's free online courses.
Coursera offers a wide range of topics with topics relating to the arts, life sciences, history, math, economics, medicine, etc. Coursera partners with top universities in the states (and currently expanding their partnerships outside the states) to offer more courses.
This social entrepreneurship company aims to "give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available to a select few." It's a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn something off-topic their current college course or simply to supplement a current topic they've learned beforehand. It's a student-centric sort of learning environment with the professors guiding us along the way, which I find is a good thing. The learning process is more dynamic and interactive and also has reasonable amount of homework and quizzes.
|Just some of the courses I've enrolled in. Stop me. Click image to enlarge.|
We're not talking about that teddy bear with existential feels. TED is a nonprofit that is focused on spreading ideas by bringing together people from Technology, Entertainment, and Design (which has since expanded to other topics which are awesomesauce) to share about their observations, insights, epiphanies and revelations in their field.
People from all walks of life- singers, painters, writers, businessmen, actors, philanthrophists, scientists, social workers, etc- have shared their strange, intriguing, shocking, and thought-provoking stories. If you have at least half an hour each day, you should watch a talk or two. This is a great website to find inspirational and informative stuff. Some of them will make you laugh, cry, or be outraged.
This is just one of their thousands of talks. This is a recent TEDxTalk by the hamazing Amanda Palmer as she shares her beautiful story about trusting strangers, pursuing her musical career, and how the art of asking helped her round out her musical success and have genuine connections with fans.
Got other websites to recommend? Pls tell me about them in the comments section. :D