- Byki gives the most detailed graphs to show how well you pronounce. Each time you say a word or phrase, you can see an overall score, and graphs on how the vowels, consonants, pitch, etc. sounded in 76 languages.
- Passport to Languages / Learn to Speak has a simple pronunciation score in 6 languages, without detailed graphs, but they have more vocabulary than Byki. Any of these first programs costs $20-$40 for permanent ownership of courses and scoring.
- Pronunciator is $30 per month, has good scoring in 72 languages, and is easier to use than Byki, though its graphs are not as detailed as Byki's. It has at least as much vocabulary as Learn to Speak. It offers free samples of the pronunciation scoring, which most do not.
- Two more are expensive and hard to use, according to reviews: Tellmemore and Rosettastone. Tellmemore scores pronunciation generously. I got undeservedly high scores in Spanish. A graph shows volume and an extra line for pitch to help you learn intonation. This would be especially good for Mandarin, which is one of the languages they teach. Reviewers say that in sentences, you must speak each word separately to get a good score.
- Babbel gives you too little feedback about pronunciation and then moves on to reading and writing. It scores good pronunciation on a scale 50-100, but gives you no score or feedback on poor pronunciation and goes on to the next screen before you get the pronunciation right. They let you say each word just once each time through a lesson.
- Two others are free, but only teach intermediate English: EnglishCentral and GoEnglishMe.
- Berlitzonline is expensive, and no samples or reviews are available.
Several websites record you saying a word or sentence. Then they analyze it and give feedback in a score, and often a graph. The approach allows you to practice repeatedly and improve your accent. The programs work by comparing your recording to the model recording in the program, after adjusting for any basic difference in pitch.The programs vary widely in what they offer. Items 1-3 are excellent and worth getting.
Web, MP4, App, Pronunciation scored, Cheap for 1-2 months, ★★★★★
Pronunciator has words spoken by native speakers in 72 languages. Beginners in each language can choose easy subjects (like numbers or animals), and the site slowly speaks numbers 1-30, then by tens to 100, or names the animals, and pauses for you to repeat, while showing pictures so you know what each foreign word means. Explanations to learn any of the languages are available in the other 71 languages. Pronunciator is $30 per month for US customers, other prices in other countries. It is free through some libraries, so ask your library.
Under Drills/Pronunciation Analysis, the site can listen and score your pronunciation. I recommend students start here, specifically with the drop down menus for Core Vocabulary and Numbers. Click the spelling on the screen to hide it, and just listen, wait for the red light, then repeat. Your rising scores encourage you to continue. The system gave me appropriate low scores in Arabic, which I do not speak, until I practiced enough to get middling scores, so it can help and motivate beginners. It gave me an occasional 100% for my intermediate Spanish accent, so its standard is not strict, and it may not help you polish an intermediate accent to an excellent one.
Pronunciator has a very attractive graph of pitch, as musical notes; it is under an arrow at the far right of the Drills tab . Byki has a variety of graphs on pitch, vowels, consonants, etc, which may give you more guidance, but Pronunciator lets you choose topics you want, so if you can afford both, get them.
Pronunciator is a good site for beginners and intermediate learners, because of the pronunciation feedback and the range of topics. Beginners do best to start with topics where pictures clearly show the meaning, and spellings can be hidden (by clicking the spelling on the screen): numbers, animals, colors, eating utensils, furniture, home appliances, bathroom, kitchen, insects, light sources, musical instruments, nationalities, shapes, tools, vehicles. Spelling normally distracts you from good pronunciation, since your mind tries to pronounce letters as they would be pronounced in your language. However the spelling is available to clarify whether the speaker is saying b, p, v, etc. Even for Chinese there is a Pinyin option, giving Roman letters which help with consonants, and accents which show tones (explained in free FSI and BBC courses and graphed in Byki and Tellmemore courses).
While subscribing you can download an hour per month of sound files to listen on the go, which you then own even if you drop the subscription. These audio files have a large amount of English explanation, since the lessons are not designed with sound effects to show what the words mean. Thus the sound files make your brain switch constantly between English and the target language, which unfortunately makes it harder to learn and develop a good accent. After you choose a lesson from the drop down menus in Pronunciator, you can go to the Audio tab to download that lesson. It comes with .m4a extension, which means an audio MP4 file. If your player recognizes .mp4, but not .m4a, you can change the extension; the internal coding is the same.
Pronunciator conjugates 99 verbs, with 8 forms (I, you, he, she, it, we, you-plural, they) in present, past and future tenses. They have many brief conversations, which are for intermediate learners, since they go fast.
Students can choose any topic, depending on interests and need. Pronunciator says it has 80 languages, since it counts regional variations of some languages, noted in the Alphabetical List.
The main competitor which has good pronunciation scoring is Byki ($25-40 for unlimited time in 76 languages). Byki costs less, has more detailed feedback on pronunciation, and grammatical explanations of each word, but it starts with complicated artificial conversations, does not let you choose topics, and does not conjugate verbs. Pronunciator lets you start with very simple words like numbers, which are easier for learning good pronunciation, and then you can choose more advanced topics. After you learn good pronunciation with Byki or Pronunciator, there are other free or inexpensive programs with 4 or 5 stars to expand your vocabulary and grammar.
The main competitor which lets you pick topics to study is Book2 (free), but it has no feedback on pronunciation, and has less vocabulary. For example on medical terms, Pronunciator goes from ache, acne, aids, allergy, ambulance, to vaccination, vitamin, wheel chair, and x-ray. If you need medical care abroad, you really need practitioners who speak your language or hire a translator, but for times when the translator is not there, you can download (Audio tab) medical terms and learn some to track the babel around you. Even if you speak the language, you may not know all these terms, so you can learn them when needed.
The site was founded by Robert Savage, a former employee of McKinsey, who hired translators and native speakers to provide the range of languages.The site lists 72 languages, including multiple dialects of some languages such as Chinese.