Language acquisition resources

Thai – See inline hoverable translations of Thai text with good transliterations. Useful for learning those song lyrics.


Chai and Conversation – A rare podcast that teaches conversational rather than formal Persian. Audio lessons are free, transcripts and other premium content is paid.

Assimil: Le Persan sans peine – Clearly enunciated audio material suitable for a beginner, with detailed notes.

This post on Benny the Irish Polyglot’s website – List of language resources toward the bottom.


Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK) – Podcast with Korean lessons and transcripts, all free. Also a few dialogues. There’s even an Anki deck with the audio directly from the podcasts, so you can review the material as you follow along.

Korean Class 101 –  Audio dialogues that follow a narrative.

How to Study Korean – Second entry in Google search results for learn korean. It claims to have everything I need to learn Korean, including lessons, tests, example sentences, and audio recordings. So what more could I want?


Ideal for natural language acquisition

Français Authentique by Johan – Johan talks you through acquiring French the NLA way. Offers stories and other content to help with this. Mostly paid content.

French Voices – Long interviews in French with transcripts. If you find the content interesting, dig it.

IE Languages – Short natural-sounding monologues about daily life, with transcripts.

Adventure Time in French

Spongebob Squarepants in French

More resources

Le Talisman brisé – A podcast story series narrated in English, intended to teach French. Sort of analogous to Mission Berlin for German, I think.

Benny the Irish Polyglot’s page about learning French – Lots of links here.

Talk in French

Learn French with Vincent YouTube channel


Ideal for natural language acquisition

2DF – Streaming German TV with German subtitles.

Slow German by Annik Rubens – Text with transcripts. Includes monologues about topics related to Germany and German people and culture, and some dialogues spoken slowly (free) and at natural speed (paid).

Der Explikator – Monologues about a huge variety of interesting topics, transcripts available. All free. Especially check out the radio plays in the entertainment section.

German 10,000 sentences sorted from easiest to hardest (Anki deck) – Just what it sounds like. The sentences are all short and there are lots of similar sentences, for instance you might have “you don’t have to leave now” “you have to leave now” “she doesn’t have to leave now” and “he doesn’t have to leave now.” I’m experimenting with this to see if it helps me learn grammar and improve my listening faster than just plain mimicking. Though it’s not really an experiment since I don’t have a control group. – Tons of German movies and other movies dubbed in German. Don’t mind the ads.

Sesamstraße – A lot of the original episodes dubbed in German are available on YouTube. You know, back before Ernie and Burt started sounding like Beavis and Butthead.

More resources

Paul Joyce German Course – A concise explanation of German phonemes with respect to English pronunciation, including audio clips.

Radio D / Goethe Institute – Ten- to 15-minute audio lessons. The first two lessons focus on inferring meaning without actually knowing the vocabulary. The actual German content is sparse and not very exciting (not surprising given the simplicity constraint), but the British narrator has an amusing sarcasm that makes it more bearable.

Learn German by Podcast / Plus Publications – Five to 15-minute audio lessons centered on simple dialogue, with pretty thorough explanations.

Deutsche Welle: Harry gefangen in der Zeit (Harry lost in time) – A series of fun, creative animated videos about an English bloke who gets trapped in a Groundhog Day-like situation in Germany. The interaction between Harry, the German people he encounters, and the omniscient narrator provide lots of opportunity to learn without feeling like one is actually studying.

Deutsche Welle: Mission Berlin – An audio series with a mystery/crime plot. It uses the same device as the Harry show, with a semi-omniscient narrator helping a protagonist who doesn’t speak much German and has to learn along the way.

Deutsche Welle: Audiotrainer – Dry audio recordings of clearly spoken sentences and phrases.

Deutsche Welle: Deutsch Interaktiv – A free series of exercises and tests for beginners (A1 to B1).

Deutsch – warum nicht? – Another podcast.

DeutschPlus中德双播 – A podcast about German culture and language, sometimes with comparison to Chinese. The hosts speak in both German and Chinese.

Multiple-language resources

Ideal for natural language acquisition

Netflix – Go to settings and change the language. Go back and choose a show, and chances are good (depending on the show, depending on the language) that you can switch the audio track to your target language.

YouTube – Find people talking about anything in your target language. The realest thing after talking with an actual person. And videos don’t object to saying the same thing over and over the way real people usually do. – Rip the audio from YouTube videos.  Put the mp3s on your phone and practice listening and shadowing even when you’re not connected to the network or need eyes for something else. Also good for saving battery life.

Make your own Anki deck – An implementation of spaced repetition memorization. I’ve used it for learning Chinese, Japanese, German, world geography, and cocktail ingredients. It’s also easy to become overly reliant on it, and I’ve probably wasted hundreds of hours on Anki studying Japanese words and phrases I’ll never use. For acquisition, I’ve been using it as a way to make shadowing material more comprehensible. – Find example sentences in your target language(s). Search by word or phrase.

Ilya Frank Reading Method – A way of annotating a book that makes it actually enjoyable to read way above one’s reading level while still learning new things. This site has a few books each in several languages, and there might be other resources with more books in this style.

Conversation Exchange – Find a conversation exchange partner. Still trying to figure out a way to find enough conversation partners whose schedule works with mine.

Italki – Language teachers and informal tutoring in tons of languages. Prices vary depending on the language.

Verbling – Like Italki. Find teachers online.

Facebook groups – A good way to find language meet-ups or conversation partners. I’ve found one German conversation partner so far through a “Germans in Taiwan” Facebook group. – This is particular to living in Taiwan (Taipei or Kaohsiung). Language exchange meet-ups several times a week in several languages. Supposedly they have native German speakers on Wednesdays.

HelloTalk – An app for finding conversation partners. It has a chat client you can use to get to know people before you switch to Skype, etc.

Hippo Family Club – Audio stories available in many languages (for $). Suitable for child polyglots.

More resources

Lang-8 – Get writing practice, get corrections, and meet people. This can potentially be a place to find conversation partners as well.

DuoLingo – Pros: Uses gamification for motivation. Makes it easy to learn new vocab. Cons: Groups by concept instead of clustering, so, e.g. you learn all the animals at the same time. The questions are mostly presented like a multiple choice test, which makes it easy to guess the right answer and feel like you’re making progress, but makes retention and recall harder.

Pimsleur – Good for a completely hands-off approach to starting a new language. Just listen and repeat for thirty minutes a day. Also good for getting a good pronunciation foundation.

Mango Languages – Online lessons with quizzes.

Other awesome links

Ellen Jovin has been independently learning languages almost continuously for the past eight years, covering 21 languages, many in very short, intensive bursts. Find your language and learn from someone else’s adventures and mishaps.