When you think of a lab, what do you picture?
Do you think of white lab coats and safety goggles?
Do you think of beakers and test tubes full of dangerous or potentially life-saving liquids?
Do you think of a friendly, water-loving dog?
Whatever you think of, you probably don’t think of a quick route to language fluency, but you should.
Digital language labs are frequently used in conventional courses. Many universities require language students to spend some time in the lab each week. These labs are usually equipped with computers, microphones and specialized programs to help students practice their language skills. Even in the digital age, this type of learning is often confined to a physical space that may be crowded and noisy.
Luckily, digital language labs don’t have to be that way. There are now many language labs that you can use anywhere, whether you’re practicing languages online or through language apps. Plus, you don’t even have to spend thousands of dollars on college courses to get access to these labs—you can subscribe and learn on your own terms.
So check out these digital language labs, and make amazing discoveries and advances in your language learning. Your perception of what a lab is will never be the same again!
Why Use a Digital Language Lab?
First of all, digital language labs provide well-rounded practice. Whether you’re learning in a classroom or on your own, it can be easy to fall into the bad habit of focusing more on one skill than another. Good language learners know that to learn a language thoroughly, you need to make sure all your skills are developed. These include speaking, listening, reading and writing. Since digital language labs provide well-rounded practice, using them is a helpful way to ensure that you won’t wind up with a woefully imbalanced skill set.
Additionally, digital language labs are exceptionally interactive. They may require you to speak, write, read or listen depending on the activity. Since you’re actively participating in activities, you’ll learn more by using the language rather than just studying it. Plus, this active participation will help hold your focus more than resources like language textbooks might, making your study time much more effective. You might even find yourself studying your target language for longer than you meant to.
Finally, digital language labs are more engaging than other types of learning. Since the methods and activities vary, you won’t have time to get bored with any one component, which will keep you interested and engaged.
5 Incredible Digital Language Labs Anyone Can Use Anywhere
MosaLingua is a language learning program that uses cognitive science to try to speed up the learning process.
MosaLingua focuses on the most useful, common words and introduces them slowly to aid retention. Thousands of flashcards cover useful vocabulary on topics like transportation, shopping and more. There are also dialogues that show these vocabulary words used in real-world contexts.
MosaLingua focuses on engaging both your visual and audio memory to maximize learning. Plus, the program is adaptable, adjusting to your needs by placing more focus on things you struggled with. Additionally, you can use MosaLingua during whatever time you have available, even if that means just a couple minutes at a time.
MosaLingua offers apps for several languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German. You can also use MosaLingua online, and the web version provides additional resources that sync up with the app versions and take your learning further, including a language library and tools that allow you to better navigate online content.
FluentU is an innovative language learning option that turns authentic, real-world videos into engaging learning tools for any level of language learner.
FluentU features videos like movie trailers, news, music videos and more. However, each video is captioned and the captions are annotated to make FluentU both fun and useful. At the tips of your fingers, you’ll have access to any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image. If you want to see how a word is used in other videos, simply click that word.
Additionally, FluentU offers a unique “quiz mode.” Videos, pictures and example sentences are combined into flashcards and exercises for enjoyable, in-context learning.
Since you choose the videos and your pace, FluentU is a versatile option, appropriate for any level of language learner. To make learning even more customized, FluentU’s algorithm takes learner history into account to ensure that questions are appropriate for your unique level, ensuring that you’ll be challenged without ever being in over your head.
With FluentU, you learn real languages—the same way that natives speak them. FluentU has a wide variety of videos, including movie trailers, funny commercials and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.
Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover over or tap on the subtitles to instantly view definitions.
You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s “quiz mode.” Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
You can use FluentU to learn Chinese, Spanish, French, English, German, Japanese, Russian, Italian and Korean.
Mango Languages aims to help you learn languages through realistic simulated conversations.
Sentences are introduced, then broken down into component parts, then put back together to help show you how the words work together. This method will also help you learn to construct your own sentences rather than focusing on memorized phrases.
One of Mango Languages’ most unique and exciting features is its voice recorder. This voice recorder allows you to compare your speech side-by-side to that of a native speaker, helping you perfect your pronunciation. Additional activities feature reading, listening and speaking.
Mango Languages offers over 70 languages, including standard offerings like Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Japanese, along with less common options like Norwegian, Serbian, Azerbaijani, Cherokee and many others.
Living Language is a helpful program that seamlessly integrates focused studying with activities to reinforce your learning.
For most languages offered, there are three levels ranging from beginning through advanced. Lessons cover useful topics like getting around, dining and more. Lessons usually start with learning material, such as words, phrases, sentences or conversation. To reinforce the learning, lessons usually end with a game or activity. This variation will help you to participate more actively while engaging with the language.
Living Language offers over 20 languages, including American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog and Vietnamese. You might even decide to pick up some conversational Dothraki.
You can use Living Language online, purchase software or use its iOS app.
Smigin is an online learning option that focuses on practicing conversation in order to learn a language.
The idea is that you’ll naturally absorb grammar and vocabulary through the simple act of conversation.
Conversations focus on useful words that travelers are likely to encounter, like “coffee.” This way, you can hit the ground running with words you’re likely to want to use in real life.
Smigin also features videos to show you conversations, giving you a clearer idea of what a conversation in your target language would be like. Plus, these videos were shot on location to give you a clear idea of place along with language practice.
Interactive, simulated conversations allow you to put together responses to basic conversational prompts, which will give you essential skills that you can use in the real world.
With plenty of images, video, audio, grammar lessons and interactive activities, Smigin is a well-rounded option that covers many key aspects of language.
Smigin is available online and offers Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese.
With these five digital language labs, the next time you think of the word “lab,” you might just picture one of the greatest learning tools in your arsenal.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.