Clozemaster

Trisha Tests: Clozemaster

The Clozemaster Review: Play whilst you learn! 

Recently I was asked to test Clozemaster an awesome way to learn languages via 1980s arcade style gamification.  I have heard a lot of wonderful  things about Clozemaster so I gladly accepted. As there are so many awesome features I am still testing and will update this post once complete!  *Please note this is an impartial review by a language learner for language learners designed to help you make a more informed decision before using or purchasing the product. 

So What is Clozemaster?

In their words…

Clozemaster is gamified language learning in context through mass exposure for learners of all levels. It aims to answer the question, “What should I do after Duolingo?” and provide a more sentence based and contextual learning experience to complement other language learning apps like Memrise and Anki.”

Clozemaster 

In my eyes…

“1980s arcade feel gamifigation for language learners, making creative use of the repetition approach to learning languages.”

Trisha founder of Language Learners Journal

What Does it Cost?  

Clozemaster is free, but they do have a premium version called Clozemaster Pro, which at the time of this review was $60 a year. 

How I used it…

I’ve been studying Spanish for a while now on and off. I’m not a complete beginner, but I still have a very long, long way to go!

I have been using Clozemaster on my Desktop and tried out a majority (still testing it out) of the awesome features that it has to offer… 

Cloze-Grammer

This section contains lots of challenges that actually make learning grammar fun!  

The Clozemaster  completion receipt. 

Cloze-Reading 

You can improve your reading skills by filling in the blanks for longer texts. Highlight part of a sentence or click on words within a sentence after answering to get useful links and translations. Covering a range of subjects from anthropology and psychology to the arts and technology.  I really enjoyed this aspect of Clozemaster. What makes it more interesting as a lot of sites now focus on speaking element and I feel this very important aspect of language learning is often over looked. 

Cloze-Collections 

Still in beta testing mode, but you can now create and play your own collections of cloze sentences. How awesome is that! 

Pro-Groupings (paid option only) 

Level up your grammar! Play sentences grouped by the grammatical part of speech of the missing word. I plan to test this feature out of the weekend so stay tuned!

What Languages are on Offer?

With a whooping 50+ languages available you really are spoilt for choice! You are able to study more than one language at a time. This is great as some of the sites I use I have to stick to one & I am normally juggling at least 2 languages a month. The premium option of Clozemaster provides you access to content across all languages.

The Spaced Repetition Method

Clozemaster uses an algorithm of repetition to help people learn languages faster. Spaced repetition of vocabulary gently progresses with the ability of the language learner aka in this instance me. This is an awesome method. From a psychological perspective the first time you hear or even read a word, your brain decides if it is important or not to be filed into long-term memory. Often it isn’t important enough until you hear and actually say it aloud several times! Then your brain has the ‘aha’ moment. However, there is no exact ruling on numbers. It depends on a whole range of complex factors that include emotional state, cognitive ability, tiredness…That is why this Repetition Algorithm is so clever as you will get reminded of the word before you run the risk of forgetting it! Now gamification means you are having fun, thus provoking an emotional response adding our ability to remember. Plus the award and recognition received for doing well increases your response to do well. 

Pros and Cons

The Pros

  • Lots of the resources are FREE. Actually there are so many resources I am still testing this out! 
  • Well-structured and planned language lessons in a style that reminds me of 1980’s gaming. 
  • Fun, fast and enjoyable to learn languages and practice grammar. 
  • A staggering 50 plus languages. 
  • Sentences that are practical and likely to be used in real life scenarios. 
  • The ability to customize your learning experience to suit your needs. 
  • The ability to learn more than one language at a time! 
  • Gamification approach to make learning grammar more interesting.  

The Cons

  • There is no doubt that spaced repetition tools like Clozemaster form part of a balanced language learning routine. You won’t become fluent in any language by using this tool alone. I still recommend real language tutors or courses. 
  •  I would not recommend this tool for complete beginners. Clozemaster acknowledges this and even recommends itself as an ideal tool for after completing the Duolingo tree. 
  • It’s addictive! BUT that does mean you are more likely to keep up with regular language learning practice. 

The Verdict

As awesome as Clozemaster is I would not solely rely on this resource alone for your language learning. However, it is a real asset to any language learning toolbox. Used in conjunction with support from a tutor or native speaker you’ll cover the basics much faster than more traditional methods on the market.

I personally think Clozemaster is a truly awesome resource and will be addeding it to my language learning tool kit.  

For more information or to get the app visit Clozemaster.com

Have you used Clozemaster? Are you going give it a try? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Trisha Tests: Speechling

Speechling Review: Is this website and mobile-optimized app right for you?

FG-NNdWn_400x400Recently I was asked to test Speechling. Speechling is a website and app that enables you to improve your speaking skills in Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Russian and English. The free version is an incredibly valuable resource that makes it easy to practice mimicking native speakers hence their parrot logo. The Unlimited Plan provides unlimited corrections of your recordings by a real coach.

Would you like to improve your Spanish, French, German, English, Chinese, and Russian pronunciation? 

Well, an enthusiastic language learner called Hongyu Chen joined forces with other talented alumni from the Ivy League and Google to help you do just that! They created a tool which really does enable you to speak your target languages like a pro! Using scientifically proven techniques, such as space repetition and mass sentence structures to help you to improve your pronunciation in a way you have probably never experienced before. The method is called Speechling.

 

You can get 35 sentences reviewed per month as a free user, but you’ll have to upgrade to their 19.99 a month plan to log your progress, get unlimited reviews and recieve full access to all 6 languages at once.

 

There is a 10% discount available for Language Learners Journal readers with the referral code:  “TRISHA” 

So What is Speechling?

In their words…

“The Speechling Method uses a combination of technology and human coaching to help our students learn new languages.

Speechling believes that ‘Everyone in the world deserves access to quality language education‘.”

In my eyes…

“Using a combination of technology and real human interation Speechling can help you improve your pronunciation in language learning. Speechling shares the same values as Language Learners Journal Ltd in that everyone should have access to good quality langauage education.”

Who Is Speechling for?

Speechling is for people who want to…

  • Improve their pronunciation and be better understood by native speakers.
  • Learn new phrases and vocabulary.
  • Become more confident in speaking their target language(s).
  • Receive personal feedback and coaching (no video calling required).
  • The lessons go from Beginner (A1) up to Advanced (B1-B2).
  • People participating in language challenges such as #15x100Challenge or #Add1Challenge.

Many times when I have tried to speak in my target language, I don’t always pay attention to my pronunciation and this can be a big mistake especially when speaking a tonal language such as Chinese Mandarin. Speechling helps you to hear where you could improve your pronunciation right away. Then you listen to how the native speaker says the phrase and simply repeat it. You will make progress fast.

“Speechling coaches give you personalized feedback within 24 hours to help you improve pronunciation.”

What Does it Cost?  

The Forever Free Plan really is free forever! A monthly subscription to the Unlimited Plan will set you back $19.99 per month.

Special Speechling Discount

Language Learner’s Journal readers can get 10% off Speechlings Unlimited Plan with the code: TRISHA

FREE 7 Day Trial

If you sign up for the unlimited package and decide within 7 days that it’s not for you simply let Speechling know, and you won’t be charged for a membership. No-risk and no questions asked of course.

Speechling Scolarships 

For those who are in financial need and would really benefit from unlimited coaching, Speechling offers scholarships that you can apply for.

speechling-review-2
Language Learner’s Journal readers can get 10% off Speechlings Unlimited Plan with the code: TRISHA

How I used it

 

In order to get a better understanding of Speechling, I decided to try it out extensively with Chinese, Spanish and German over a period time.  I enjoyed having the chance to speak without judgment or the pressure of a real-time conversation. This really did help to build some initial confidence when learning a new language.

The topics include everything from basic questions to asking for help and one’s health. The Speechling Conversation features were my favorite. Not only do you get feedback on pronunciation, but the coaches do correct any mistakes in grammar or word order when offering feedback. Sometimes the coaches would really break the word down for me into more manageable segments.

I loved the little emojis I received if I got pronunciation correct.  It reminded me of the good work stickers I used to get from school. For Chinese and Spanish I had feedback within 24 hours as promised by the website.

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What Languages are on Offer?

Language courses that are currently available are English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian. With the premium option, you can learn multiple languages at a time as it gives access to content across all languages. Perfect for polyglots (people that can speak several languages and still want to learn more).

Website Features 

  • Free Vocabulary Flashcards – Quiz yourself with flashcards on 1000s of sentences, completely free.

 

  • Fill In the Blank – Build your vocabulary with a series of cloze tests. Simply fill in the blank.

 

  • Free Listening Comprehension Practice – Play and practice your listening skills on 1000’s of sentences. Free forever.

 

  • Free Dictation Practice – Thousands of sentences available for dictation, from beginner to advanced. Forever free.

 

  • Free Audio Dictionary – Browse through 1000s of common sentences with audio examples from professional voice actors.

Pros and Cons

The Pros 

Real Feedback. An excellent method to improve your speaking abilities and get feedback within 24 hours from a real teacher.

Native Speakers. Speechling has recordings of real native speakers. You can choose between a male or female voice.

Easy to use. The platform is pleasing to the eyes, incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. You can record and submit your audio straight from your browser or smartphone, review your feedback, and re-record as necessary.

Non- judgmental and safe learning environment. No matter how terrible I feel my pronunciation is, Speechling is a safe and non-judgmental place to get better. The coaches don’t criticize you for any mistakes. They simply record the right pronunciation and then re-read the sentence for you. It’s a great place to build your confidence and pronunciation skills.

Dictation Exercises. It’s not just repetition. The dictation exercises provide listening practice. You can also get feedback on your recordings describing pictures or answering questions.

Switching languages. If you already speak French well enough, you can use it to work on your Mandarin pronunciation. If you speak Spanish, you can use it to learn French. It’s really versatile!

Generous free version. Although the unlimited version makes it possible to binge the content and get a ton of feedback, the free version does allow 15 minutes of coaching per month and scholarships are available for those in financial hardship.

The Audio Journal. All your recordings and feedback are stored in the Audio Journal which is color-coded! This makes it easier to see the status of all of the phrases you’ve worked on. It’s also a nice motivational boost to see everything marked in green.

Ace Speaking Challenges. If you are participating in a challenge I feel Speechling will really amplify your speaking ability and boost your confidence considerably!

The Cons

Learn the basics first. You’ll get feedback on your pronunciation from real coaches, but you’ll need to grasp the basics from somewhere else. I would recommend LingoHut for learning the basics. LingoHut you can learn 15+ languages for free. The site shares the same values as Language Learners Journal and Speechling in that quality language education should be accessible to all.

Limited Languages. Only available for Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Russian, and English… so far.

Doesn’t fully replace a live tutor. The coaches correct your pronunciation, but this isn’t a replacement for face-to-face tutors or language courses. Although I feel Speechling will perfectly complement other lessons and help you to practice.

The Verdict

Important Update: 

Speeching have listened and to address our comment that users need to “learn the basics first“, they have only gone and tripled their content collection! Speechling Foundations, covers the very basic words, and then coaches the users to use those very words in sentences.
Plus there is now an entirely offline module for  premium users. Users can download a huge chunk of our sentence collection (~10k sentences), with access to our audio books and Anki decks too.

Speechling has totally won the respect of Language Learners Journal Ltd as it is a not-for-profit organization, working to further the education around the globe. Offering a generous free service as well as scholarships for their unlimited service to schools and people who are unable to pay for the service.

I’m a big fan of the way Speechling has approached the pronunciation challenge, and personally, this is one of the best resources I have ever used. I have found their free and low-cost unlimited memberships have really amplified my language speaking ability.

The service won’t fully replace having lessons with a live face-to-face tutor but it would compliment these lessons perfectly. Learning pronunciation and improving the flow of your speech is one of the most important, but most difficult aspects to grasp, especially if you are learning a tonal language, such as Chinese. Improved pronunciation will not only build great confidence but will mean you are better understood by native speakers.

Even if you aren’t able to invest money into learning, I’d still recommend using Speechling. The Forever Free version is better than most other popular and expensive products currently on the market. It makes improve your speaking and listening skills much easier.

Join the 5000+ students from over 156 different countries and 17+ institutions and sign up for a membership today. Not able to afford the monthly fee then use the free version or apply for the scholarship.

For more information or to get the app visit: Speechling.com

Language Learner’s Journal readers can get 10% off Speechlings Unlimited Plan with the code: TRISHA

join


Any sale of Speechling memberships using the coupon code “TRISHA” will generate a small commission to Language Learners Journal, at no extra cost to the learner. This enables us to keep our site free from annoying advertisements, supports our running costs and continue to offer free content to language learners. 

I always attempt to review services and products in a fair and honest manner. The post was written by Trisha Dunbar, and Speechling had no editorial control over the contents of this article. 

Do you have a language learning product? Would you like to have your product or service reviewed? Email me today.

Do you use speechling? Are you going to give it a try? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.


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CUSTOMIZED GIFTS FOR ADVENTURERS

Trisha Tests: Fluent in 3 Months

I reassumed my language studies about 3 years ago when I was accidentally hit on the head by a book called ‘Fluent in 3 months‘ by Benny Lewis. At the time I was trying to reach for a French phrase book to brush up on my skills before a trip to Paris. Instead, I accidentally knocked this book off the shelf. I bought it in case I had damaged it, plus people were staring and I did the whole “yes, this is the book I wanted” speech. I am not sure if it was a concussion or the book itself, but a spark was initiated that day that still remains to this day! Thanks for that Benny. So far I have applied this method to brush up on my French, learn Mandarin and Spanish. Now, I intend to learn German from scratch to conversational level in just 3 months!

Just to note I am affiliated with Amazon, but I am not affiliated with this book or Fluent in 3 Months (apart from the large scar on my head, just joking) and Benny is not even aware I was going to review it – “SURPRISE BENNY!“. All opinions are my own.

So What is Fluent in 3 Months (Fi3M)?

Benny had a lot of people to thank at the beginning of his book, but once I finally made it to the introduction I was deeply inspired by his story and it initiated an ancient passion I wasn’t even aware of for languages.

In Benny’s words…

“Language internet sensation, Benny the Irish Polyglot. Can speak a dozen languages thanks to a change in mindset and approach. Benny will help you on your path to fluency via his pro-active communicative techniques”.

In my eyes…

“A very modest Benny, lol informs you that in order to learn a language you actually have to speak it! As comical as that sounds he is right! As students or independent language learners many of us shut ourselves away, pick up a grammar book and wonder why we still can’t have a conversation with a native speaker after years of studying! This method has helped me to have basic conversations with native Spanish and Mandarin speakers within 2-3 months.” 

What Does it Cost?  

The book can vary in price I paid £9.99 for it, but it is available on Amazon for about £7.00. There is also additional premium online content that currently costs $97.

How I used it…

I read it (obviously), took notes and then made a plan to have a basic 10-15 minute conversation with a native speaker within 3 months. I managed to achieve this in 2 and a half months and the conversation was over 20 minutes! How I managed this was I thought about what I talk about in general conversations and then learned the relevant vocabulary. Writing my mission on the Fi3M forum really helped to hold me accountable for my learning.

What Languages are on Offer?

The book is about learning how to learn languages, but most language groups are mentioned.

A Matter of Fluency

What Fluency is can be a matter of opinion, however, The Oxford dictionary describes it as:

“The ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately /The ability to express oneself easily and articulately.” – Oxford Dictionary Online 

Personally, I feel that fluency is about being able to get your point across and understanding/being understood in a wide range of different situations. English, is my native language but I wouldn’t even consider myself completely fluent as there are still words I have to look up or check my understanding of and as for my English grammar – my grammar in Mandarin is better!

The Conversational Approach

I am aware that not everyone is a fan of the speaking from day 1 approach, but to me, it makes perfect sense. A baby wouldn’t grab a grammar book and sit alone in a room reading it! A baby learns from repetition, repeat, trial, and error.

I like to learn some key basics in the languages that I learn, such as “What does X mean?” or “how do you say X in X?”. Therefore I really am speaking from day 1.

Pros and Cons

The Pros 

  • The book includes links to a forum, blog, audio links and official website making it very interactive and fantastic value for money. There is also an option to upgrade to Fi3M Pro that includes additional resources in a wide range of languages.
  • Benny is very motivating, inspiring and humorous in his approach to learning languages.
  • Language learning on steroids! Access to immersion kits and sentence connectors really does help to kick start your language learning so you get speaking it faster!
  • If you really feel this method isn’t for you then it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Cons

  • I personally love this method, but I do understand it is not for everyone. For me, it has worked really well, but it all depends on your learning style and level of confidence. Some people prefer to study languages in isolation with a grammar book and audio kit – if that works for you so be it.
  • Fluent in 3 Months is a catchy title, but a misleading one.  I would suggest ‘Conversational in 3 Months‘, but that isn’t as catchy. This book (and the additional online features) have really helped me to have basic conversations within 3 months with native speakers.

The Verdict

If you need to learn the basics of a language fast or need a motivational boost I would highly recommend this book. If you follow the advice you too might become conversational within 3 months. I love this book and still regularly refer to it. Benny is straight to the point and hilarious. It is certainly a thumbs up from me!

For more information or to purchase the book visit:  Fluent in 3 Months (affiliated Amazon link).

Other products from Benny Lewis is the awesome Language Hacking series with integrated online content and audio features.

Language Hacking – German

Language Hacking – Italian

Language Hacking – Spanish

Language Hacking – French

Have you read Fluent in 3 Months? What are your thoughts?

Let me know what you think of in the comments section: 

flourish4

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