Web+books+MP3, No pronunciation scores, Free, ★★★★★
Excellent site presents text and audio files for over 40 languages. You can see or suppress the spelling in the target language, and play each phrase as often as you want, in a normal teaching speed or more slowly (other sites and downloads lack this slow feature). It has no pictures or sound effects, so you depend on explanations in your own language to learn the target language.
Click your country on their home page, which determines their language of instruction, then select the language you want to learn, and you will see a list of 100 lesson topics. Start with numbers (lesson 7) for initial pronunciation. Then choose any other topics which interest you.
If you can afford $30, you might do best to postpone Book2, and either buy "101 Languages" from Transparent, or subscribe to a month on Pronunciator (47 languages). Both those programs hear your voice and score your pronunciation, letting you repeat while you improve. Beginners do well to take advantage of this pronunciation scoring, so you build good habits. Bad pronunciation is hard to fix later and is a barrier to people ever understanding you. After learning a simple topic like numbers on either Book2 or Pronunciator, you can go on to any other topics which interest you. Transparent ($25-$40 for unlimited time in 76 languages), scores pronunciation in more detail than Pronunciator, though you cannot choose topics.
Book2 offers many topics; choose whatever motivates you. All audio is free. Printed text is free in lessons 1-30, and part of the text is free in lessons 31-100. Remaining text is free for a day or costs 6 euros for 3 years (one fee covers all lessons in all languages).
You can download audio files free, with:
- Just the target language. This download is recommended for review, after you know the meanings. It is available in the arrows marked "1" on the page listing all languages, and comes as a full set of 100 lessons, 65-100 megabytes per language. OR:
- Phrases in your language first, then the target language. This download is offered at the bottom of each lesson. A collection of 10 lessons is 6-12 megabytes.
- Listen to man and speak with woman, in languages with 2 speakers, like English and Spanish.
- Create pauses by pressing Stop on your MP3 player to give yourself time to say the words. Also you want an MP3 player which can rewind a few seconds, since there are no repeats, though many languages have everything said by both male and female speakers. English has an American man and an English woman. Do not try all this button-pushing while driving.
- Listen without pauses, and speak at the same time as the native speakers, at about the same volume, so you can compare your voice to the native speaker (shadowing, recommended by Arguelles). People learn songs this way, so try it for languages. Arguelles 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, again like learning a song.
The Book2.de website is good, since you can click each phrase, normal or slow, as often as you want. Downloads are also good, since they do not need a web connection, can be heard on the go, and can be shared with others. If you download, print the 1-page list of lesson titles from the website, so you know the topic each MP3 file covers. For example lesson 7 covers numbers (1-9) in both website and download.
You can also print the text of each lesson from the website, or for convenience you can buy the text of all 100 lessons for $10 per language. It also comes in Android and iPhone apps.
The site is a non-profit project of Goethe-Verlag, a German publisher, and they also provide contacts for many of the native speakers who recorded the lessons.