There’s no substitute for a good language teacher.
…Or is there?
Getting your hands on the right software might just set you free.
Classroom time for learning and practice is hard to beat when you’re trying to master a language. Yet classes can be time-consuming and expensive, so they’re not the best option for everyone.
Language immersion software programs fill the void when you’re learning without a teacher. Like the CEO of the classroom, language immersion software gives guided instruction and practice sessions that are relevant and fun.
You get the structure, order and traditional framework that self-educators often find themselves craving.
Plus, you get to choose the software that targets your specific needs and interests!
Advantages of Language Immersion Software
Language learning software programs take many different approaches to mastering a language. Some focus mainly on speaking and listening, while others incorporate reading and writing as well.
Are you a visual learner? Immersion software could be the best thing for you, as it includes images and videos to match the audio components.
Unlike in the classroom, where the pace is determined by the teacher, immersion software lets you go at your own pace and return to lessons you need to review. The best part is, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Every language software program is structured differently. When choosing one, consider how you learn best, your goals and the your current proficiency with the language. This list of the best language-learning software programs will help you decide!
How to Succeed with Language Immersion Software
Ready to start with a computer-based language immersion program? There are a few things you should know before diving in. Consider this section your life jacket.
Language immersion software does give a classroom-like experience, but it’s not the same as a classroom. There’s no teacher telling you what to do and when to do it. These programs require quite a bit of self-determination, so prepare to stay disciplined during the language course.
It may be tempting to skip around from lesson to lesson, but it’s better to resist and follow the lesson exactly. You might miss important content that’s required for lessons further down the road.
In the absence of classmates, seek out an online community of language learners that use the same software to ask questions and get feedback. You’ll be surprised what you can learn from other students!
No Teacher? No Problem! 6 Language Immersion Software Programs That Give a Classroom Experience
Cost: As low as $229 for five levels or $184 for three, depending on the format (online, CD or download) or length of subscription.
The latest version of Rosetta Stone, perhaps the most widely known language learning software, caters to many different learning styles. The program engages students in listening, reading and speaking activities that exercise the brain and improve fluency. Beginners to advanced learners will find a Rosetta Stone program that suits their needs.
The Rosetta Stone canon offers a very broad selection of languages for any level:
The user experience design simply can’t be beat. Optional web tutorials give supplemental lessons with a live language teacher.
Cost: $20/month to $30/month. Discounts available for year-long subscriptions.
One of the best ways to become immersed in a language is to interact with content that comes from the countries where the language is spoken. Video content is especially effective because it combines visual and audio learning with culture.
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
Cost: $218 for disc 1; $677 for all 5 discs
Appearing in a set of 5 discs, the Fluenz software CDs are geared toward new learners and aim for complete understanding of all course material. Fluenz is famous for its English-speaking Sherpa character who appears in videos throughout the program. The Sherpa guides learners along, introducing and recapping each lesson.
Currently offering six languages, the program is perfect for beginners—so new learners need not worry about getting lost (the Sherpa will help you find your way). The lessons move along at a natural pace and cover a wide variety of topics. There is more than enough content to build a strong foundation in the basics of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary.
Cost: $79 for Journey 1; $132 for Journeys 1-2; $176 for Journeys 2-3
Update: Mango Passport is now known as Mango Languages, and offers a complete language learning program.
Ideal for travelers, Mango Passport covers what you need to know if you plan to spend time in a foreign country. Cultural information and travel tips are integrated within relevant and comprehensive language content. With rich screen displays and crisp, clear audio, Mango Passport is a pleasure to use.
Passport is modestly priced compared to its other software counterparts. The program is offered in 17 languages (including English). It comes with MP3 audio lessons that you can add to a mobile listening device for on-the-go learning. While Passport contains useful material and is user-friendly, note that there’s no scoring system that tells you how you’re progressing overall.
Rocket Languages Premium
Cost: Rocket Languages has different packages that vary in price according to language and content, but their Premium programs start at around a hundred dollars for a one-time payment.
Offering a very affordable, web-based portal for beginners and travelers, Rocket Languages Premium stands out for both its value and content. Rocket Languages is a go-to option for aspiring polyglots, as it offers a wide selection of languages, including:
The lessons also come on CD, if web-based learning isn’t your thing (though at a much higher cost).
Since Rocket Languages is primarily web-based, students can learn anywhere they have internet access. Additional downloadable content gives learners more content on the go. The website’s dashboard is easy to navigate. The content is well-paced, covering must-know information without being overly ambitious.
Tell Me More
Cost: $199 for 3 months of web access; DVD-ROM bundles from $299-$529
Many immersion programs are designed for beginners and travelers to get their footing on the path to fluency. If you’re an intermediate or advanced student in a language, Tell Me More may be more your style. With many activities and scenarios to choose from at different proficiency levels, Tell Me More provides a customized learning experience tailored to specific skill sets.
Like a Choose Your Own Adventure game, Tell Me More lets users select specific lessons and topics (like business and politics). This setup personalizes the learning process. The program is rich in content and offers assessments and games that challenger learners.
Now that you’ve got these software recommendations, you’re all set to start studying. But don’t leave it all up to the program to teach you—there’s still a few things you need to do for yourself!
Do a little bit every day to stay consistent, so you don’t forget what you’ve learned.
Set goals for yourself and reward yourself when you meet them.
With the right motivation and persistence, language immersion software can turn you into an A+ student!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.