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Excellent supplemental resources for learning your language (or staying active/entertained if you already speak it).

This is kind of a "community" question to help everyone out.

We all know by now that you can only get so good at a language without reading, listening to, and conversing with native speakers (i.e. Immersion).

This discussion is intended for us to share resources for supplementing our Duolingo learning and increasing immersion.


If you're learning the language, in addition to Duolingo, what resources or techniques have you found helpful for boosting your language skills and deepening your language immersion?


If you're a native speaker, or a fluent speaker, what do you do that utilizes or stimulates your language skills? Do you watch films, hang out in chat rooms, get eBooks?

PLEASE BE SPECIFIC. I've asked similar questions before and often get vague responses like: "I watch movies in Italian with Italian subtitles." but finding those resources yourself can prove to be quite challenging.

It would be much more helpful if you could provide links, or specific films, books or music and where to buy/rent/watch them, or instructions on how to do whatever it is your do.

The idea of this discussion is not for general ideas, but specific resources and techniques.


If your tips aren't general to all language, I'd encourage you to create a discussion for the language you're learning/speaking and put a link in the comments below. I'll add it up here once you do. I've created a discussion specific to Italian below.

ITALIAN: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/233750

March 6, 2013


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Well, I rent and watch DVD and streaming movies in Spanish on Netflix (they have tons), and I've also gotten some Putomayo CD's themed for Spanish speaking countries. I also watch English language movies I already own and enjoy with the Spanish audio track turned on if they have one available.

If a person has Netflix, even without the DVD service, that can be a great resource for seeing films in the language you're trying to learn. I think the only language not fairly well represented on Netflix, that DuoLingo offers, is Portuguese. I have no idea why that is, but there are only a few Brazilian movies on there and I haven't seen any from Portugal.

The Practice Makes Perfect series of textbooks seems pretty good, even though I haven't used them all, of course. They seem popular and offer books for every language Duo does.


Great tips! Thanks for sharing!


I use memrise.com to help build vocab.


Google books has some good free books for download. I'm learning French, so I go to books.google.fr and put in the search box "livres pour enfants" and it brings up some good stuff. I've also gotten ambitious and downloaded some Dumas, Sand and other classics.


Great suggestion. I have been thinking about going to the library to see if they simple french books available. Even easier to just download them from Google.


I couldn't find free books but the previews on Google Books are good enough.


If you go to books.google.fr and put in whatever search terms you want, then go to the drop down menu and choose "Search tools" and then click "Any books" then choose "Free Google eBooks". That will bring up all the FREE books. Otherwise you'll get mainly just the previews.

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Euronews - This offers news in all of the languages covered by Duolingo and often the news items are supported by a written transcript of what is being said .Also there are more in depth articles which may go on longer covering specific subject areas.Most of the time the same story is echoed across all languages offered so a good strategy is to begin looking at the story in the language you're most advanced at first .Also there's always the option of watching in your mother tongue. Secondly ,as someone has already mentioned ,the Spanish newspaper El Mundo is very good especially the graficos section which covers hundreds of diverse subject areas and is very up to date and well organized.Ideal for essay or project research for anyone studying for exams. Finally there are hundreds of language entries on Quizlet -you can even add your own.





Great resources!

It looks like the "newsinslow" is also available in Italian and Chinese. Maybe other languages too? In any case, these are great.



  • 1000

Zambombazo -Here's another excellent Spanish resource .This is very imaginative with plenty of good ideas.



Great tips so far!

Another thing I've found to be useful (again, left this on the Italian page, sorry for the duplicate), is trying to find children's books. It may hurt our pride a little - but let's face it, in the beginning we're probably not exactly reading/speaking at a high-school level.

Illustrated children's books are the best because they tend to have short sentences and you can often decipher the meaning of new words and phrases by looking at the illustration, which for me (and i suspect most visual learners) really helps the new words to stick.

Unfortunately, if you're learning a language that is less common in your city, even in a big international city like LA, it's hard to find them in book stores. So I've found that by searching around Amazon or the Apple iBook store, I can usually find some decent eBooks.

Amazon is much easier to search since you can directly access foreign language pages from your computer/tablet/smartphone. You'll find if you go straight to amazon.com or the ibook store and search "Italian" or "French" for instance - you often get a lot of cookbooks, travel books, and things you're not looking for.

The easiest thing I've found to do is go to: http://www.amazon.it (replace .it with .fr for French, .de for German etc) to get directly to that country's store.

On the left of the screen, next to the search bar click "Shop by Department" "Books" "Kindle Books (eBooks)" and then click the word for "Children's Books" ("Bambini e Ragazzi" in Italiano) from the column that appears on the left.

And there you are, you should have a wide selection of books to choose from and add to your device (The kindle app is available for pretty much all platforms).

If you really prefer the iBooks store (which has some benefits, like better integration with accessibility options for one), you can search the word in your language for children ("bambini" in Italian) and that tends to help narrow the results.


Protip: At some point the evil people in the world decided that even if a book is available on the Kindle store in Italy or France, that doesn't mean you can buy it if you're in the US.

You'll find that a lot of eBooks listed on amazon.it (amazon.fr, etc) are not available on regular amazon.com. If you're like me, and use iBooks on iOS for all of your books, and ONLY use the kindle app for foreign language books, you can "migrate" your kindle account to the country of your choosing, and have access to those books.

It's a stupid, stupid, thing.


Ego. Pride? I don't care.

I read many children's books in Spanish. It's fun. I read as many as I can find. Yes, I purchase some via Amazon and borrow many from my local library. I generally use the 多読 Tadoku (extensive reading) method. I don't look up the words, I just read the text. After seeing certain words in context I've been able to intuitively learn the meaning of certain words just like children do. This method is also great for learning grammatical structure without actually studying grammar.

AudioBooks for children's books (or tween/teen level books) are great.


So what you do is instead of getting the preschool-kindergarten level books you get ones that are more of the elementary school level? Brilliant!


I left suggestions for a couple cheap books in Italian here: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/233750


Spanish and French national radio internet streams, both radios have great variety of programs, podcasts also downloadable from the websites but I use these less, the stream you can just turn on and tune into whatever is on: http://www.franceinter.fr/player http://www.rtve.es/radio/

'Interlex' for vocab database creation, allows you to test yourself on it too. Freeware http://download.cnet.com/Interlex/3000-2279_4-10158960.html


www.linguee.com is also an excellent resource for examples of translated text. I find seeing words or phrases in context the best way to learn.


I also use http://www.bitesizedlanguages.com/ for German. It sends me a new phrase every day. sometimes it's too easy, sometimes I learn a lot. It's a good balance for me, and a useful break from work.


I download and read books in German.

http://www.feedbooks.com/books/top -- Has free books in Italian, English, German, Spanish, and French.

I also listen to music in German, and translate it to English. Then I Google an English translation to check my answer.


Change your language settings (I left this in the Italian discussion as well but think it applies here too)

If you're feeling brave, consider changing the language settings on your tablet, home computer, or even your smartphone. I recently changed my iPad language to Italian and enabled all of the "accessibility" options like text-to-speech etc.

So now everything that supports the language is in Italian, and you can highlight text and click "Leggi" to have it read the text aloud in Italian.

On an iOS device, these settings can be found in:

Settings>General>Accessibility (for voice over, speak selection, etc) Settings>General>International>Language (to change to a new language)


Great suggestion! I just switched my iPhone to spanish. I also do this for youtube.com. If you scroll all the way to the bottom there is an option to switch languages.


Thanks! @JoonieM on the Italian thread also added it can be fun (if your device has it) to try to practice "silly" conversations with Siri in the language you're learning. My iPhone/iPad doesn't have Siri but it sounds like a good time!



Haha i just told Siri "Yo quiero taco bell" and she totally found me a taco bell! Practicing my spanish with a robot...forever alone ;)


I already had the language of my mobile device changed to Spanish but the Accessibility option is great. Thanks for the tip!


Yes. This has been a great help. My home and work computers are set so they think my language is French. Websites come up in French (when there's a French option) - you may need to tell your browser to change your default language. The result is I am forced to interact with French things a lot. This has been useful, though one ends up learning a lot of rather particular vocabulary and sometimes it is difficult because the French and English terms are both rather arbitrary unless you happen to know.


I keep up with my French by reading lemonde.fr every morning and following accounts that tweet in French on Twitter. I've started reading elpais.com as well while learning Spanish. For me, newspapers are a good resource because I live in China and do not have easy/consistent access to films or Netflix. However, when it works, Netflix is a great resource, especially for French and Spanish movies.


Great suggestion on the online newspapers. The articles are hard to read at first but it's worth the effort because you're being exposed to the modern vernacular. Much more relevant than the "The car is red" type sentences you get in most language courses and textbooks. Plus you get the bonus of being exposed to the culture of a country via its current events!


I use Met Opera on Demand to stream opera to my TV. I print out librettos from http://www.rwagner.net and read while I watch. Since singing is slower than speech (at least in Wagner, not Donizetti) it's easy to hear and read. I enjoy opera more and do learn some German along the way.


This won't appeal to everyone, but I play MMORPG's. Recently I started playing guild wars 2 and set that to French. It was very hard because I had to follow the plot in French, but it feels like everyone is talking to you in French and all your interaction has to be in French. Since I don't know any French people and can't find any to talk to, that really has helped.

Though of course some of the vocabulary I am learning is a little, well, specialised. Eg different words for sword :-).

Another idea is to find books that you already know in the foreign language. When I was a kid I really enjoyed some of Jules Verne's novels translated into English. They are quite hard (for me) in French, but since I already know the plot, that makes things easier. This goes for books of any level, eg Winnie the Pooh or the Bible. If you know the story well, its just easier to absorb the foreign language. Verne and the Bible are good examples because they are out of copyright (or at least versions of them are).


Totally agree, playing computer games, especially with a lot of conversations like RPG's, MMORPG's is a very useful way to practice the language. Unfortunately most of them are in English and the only option is to put on the game interface and subtitles in desired language. However, there are few games which are completely in different language then English, including dubbing. The Witcher 1 is a perfect example. And this is super useful, because unlike in the movies, in the games you are the part of the conversation and you really have to think about it. Well, you have to be a patient a bit..of course you can skip all of this and go killing monsters, but that won't help you a lot with the language progress :)).


I watch documentaries and tv shows in German on ZDF Mediathek (http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek#/hauptnavigation/startseite).

I also listen to the ARD Tageschau+Tagesthemen podcasts while I exercise.


Recommend to watch recent film "Unsere Mutter Unsere Vater" in ZDF channel. Extraordinary!


I love language podcasts (free on Zune and ITunes).


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