Web, No pronunciation scores, Pictures, Free, ★★★★★
This is free, with 14 European and Far Eastern languages. You hear words by clicking pictures, for example animals, or numbers from 1 to 102 (some languages have less than others). A few animals have sound effects besides the pictures. The site also covers some grammar in English, French and Spanish, and describes some of its speakers.
I advise beginners to start with numbers on LanguageGuide.org, for initial pronunciation. Then choose any other topics which interest you from Language Guide or Book2, Both are free. If you can afford $25-40, try Byki (in 76 languages), or at least a month of Pronunciator (in 47 languages). Both of these listen when you speak into a headset or microphone, so they can score your pronunciation. All are rated at 5 stars.
Language Guide is an excellent place to start since it is visual, so you learn new words from native speakers with no distractions from your own language. They show pictures of food, technology, office items, government, geography, parts of the body, clothing, etc. You mouse over the pictures to hear each word, as often as you need to. Book2, Byki, and Pronunciator have more words in more languages.
On Language Guide, you can right-click (ctrl-click on Mac) and "Save page as" in Firefox so the page with Alphabet or Numbers can be used offline (100-500 kilobytes per page). On most other pages the audio downloads but not the page image. "Save target as" in Internet Explorer or Chrome does not seem to work as well as Firefox, but you can right-click the audio play button in the upper right of each page and download the audio. Safari does not seem able to download the audio. The audio of numbers in Hebrew does not work, but other topics do.
The audio is one MP4 file per page, and it can be played straight through. It has all the words (and animal sounds) from the page, though no pauses, repeats, or explanations.
You have 2 choices with the MP4 files:
- (A) You can press Stop on your player to give yourself time to say the words. Also you might want a player which can rewind a few seconds, since there are no repeats. Do not try all this button-pushing while driving.
- (B) Arguelles recommends listening to a recording like this, without pauses, and speaking along with the native speaker, at about the same volume, so you can compare your voice to the native speaker (shadowing). People learn songs this way, so try it for languages. He says to walk with good posture while speaking so your voice is clear. At first you can only speak sporadically, until you hear phrases enough to say them with the native speaker.