Congratulations! You finished your study abroad and are practically a native from where ever you were staying. You know all the lingo, where the best coffee is, and which café has the best WiFi. But now you’re back. Everyone speaks English, you have a coffeemaker, and you have mobile data. Keeping up language skills you learned abroad can be difficult with old habits. That’s why I’m telling you about these five free tools to stop you from forgetting everything like a kid over summer break.
Lingbe is a new app that lets you practice speaking. Finding partners to practice a language with is hard, so this app makes a great substitute. You simply log into the app, and you get to talk to someone else in your target language while earning points! Speakers are connected based on your desire to learn another language and their desire to learn English. Even if you don’t feel like practicing your target language you can just make friends in English instead.
By now everybody knows about Duo Lingo. If you don’t, maybe you were abroad too long. The app is amazing and has a ton of languages. They even just released Japanese! The app is good for any level of fluency (including 0), but it is also a good refresher over time. Just set a daily level of points you want to earn and track your progress. The app is even certified to be put on your LinkedIn account when you fully complete a language track!
Similar to Lingbe, PALS is a program at UT that will match you in person with someone fluent in a language you want to practice while you help someone else practice English. These students are training for their TOFL exam and will likely ask you questions about what they are learning. PALS not only helps you improve in a foreign language but really teaches you things you didn’t realize about English as well.
It may come as a shock, but Tumblr is good for much more than blogs about cats and fan fiction. There is a community on Tumblr for any language you could think of. Not only do these blogs help you refresh vocab and practice reading, but they teach modern speaking with slang. Basically you learn how to talk like a real person instead of repeating textbook phrases. If you are tired of classroom learning or really advanced in a language while you were abroad, I suggest finding a few accounts to follow.
Lastly I want to mention the Center for Open Educational Resources in Language Learning (COERLL). Until a few months ago, I had no idea this data base existed for UT students. Covering a total of 17 different languages, this website has everything from grammar training to vocab flashcards. All UT students have access to the website and can find it through the library page or typing it into Google. It makes for great practice and is really useful for people taking languages classes at UT.
No matter what you are learning, or what your level, these tools should be able to help. Of course, none of these are as good as staying in contact with the friends you made while abroad, but they should still be useful if you don’t have a lot of time to Skype back and forth. For those of you still waiting to go abroad, this blog post is perfect for you.