There are several threads in the archive under 'language learning,' but no others specifically about how to get past the beginner level where you just learn isolated words.
So I picked this one, somewhat at random, because I wanted somewhere to share this NYT article by linguistics professor John McWhorter, recommending two particular programs I had never heard of, Assimil and Glossika.
How to Say What You Need to Say in Another Language
By John McWhorter
“My uncle is a lawyer, but my aunt has a spoon.”
You know those language textbook dialogues? Where people seem to talk more about silverware (“the fork, the knife”) and what color things are more than any real person ever does and, having mastered these locutions, you get off the plane in a place where the language is spoken and can barely figure out how to say, “How do I get outside?”
People often ask me what the best ways of learning a language are without a classroom. And the truth is that a lot of ways most readily available will be fun and useful but won’t give what they really want. Say you want to be able to connect with an in-law who doesn’t speak English well or with people you supervise who don’t or you just want to be able to enjoy films and TV shows in the language.
If so, lawyers and spoons aren’t going to do the job. Neither actual people nor fictional ones are much given to discussing silverware or remarking on basic weather conditions (“It is raining”), and “My name is …” is useful in an interaction with someone only one time. You need to be able to say and understand real things, such as “He didn’t even know she was right in front of him” and “That smells more like turkey than chicken” and “No, you’d better go around back.” Those aren’t idioms; they are the kinds of things you say all the time.
Plus you need to be able to get past feeling that actual speakers of the language talk too fast. There are no spaces between words in spoken language, and sentences go by in a stream. But this is no more “too fast” than the sky is too blue. Humans don’t express themselves in carefully paced nuggets of speech. To be able to handle a language means dealing with that reality.
The issue is the intermediate level. What do you do after you’ve done a program that gets you started
( https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/travel/lan... )
and takes you through the basic level, like Duolingo or Babbel (or my favorite, less known in the United States, Assimil)?
( https://www.assimil.com/en/ )
You can take a class, but suppose you want to do it yourself? How do you get past “My cousin has a house” and “I see seven pens”?
I want to share my answer to that, because I have spent my life compulsively teaching myself to get around in languages — I have the polyglot disease — and I know of a way to get farther than people usually get. There is no reason that Glossika
( https://ai.glossika.com/ )
shouldn’t be as well known as Duolingo and Babbel. It teaches you real language, and it gets you used to just hearing the language, rather than relying as much on text as sound. After all, there are no subtitles in real life.
The method is pretty simple. You get recordings of 5,000 sentences in the language of your choice. Glossika comes in more than 60 languages at this point: If you feel your life isn’t complete without immersing yourself in some Slovenian or Uzbek, Glossika is for you. But the important part here is that the sentences are real ones. The first time I used it, the first sentence was about being good at tennis. Think: In a foreign language you know, were you ever taught how to say “good at”? To speak a language is to know how to say things like that. ...
Glossika isn’t flashy. You don’t get much by way of games (or “gamification” as one apparently says these days). Culture is not the point, either; it is assumed you will take in that kind of information elsewhere. Glossika is about doing the work. And do it for some months, getting in all the sentences … and one fine day, it’s like going from the black and white to the color part of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Suddenly you can understand what native speakers are saying, because now the language is in your ear for real. I’ll never forget the day I walked by some Chinese people and heard one of them saying in Mandarin, “Wait, take a picture of that statue,” when just a few months earlier I would have heard nothing but a stream of sounds. ...
I ... want more people to know about Glossika because its creator, Michael Campbell,
( https://ai.glossika.com/blog/author/michael )
is a sterling citizen of the world’s languages. Of the roughly 7,000 languages that are currently spoken, only about 500 or 600 may still be in use a hundred years from now. Globalization and urbanization focus people on speaking the big lingua francas, such that languages spoken by small Indigenous groups stop being passed on to children. Also, in countless cases in the past, Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals were discouraged from using their languages, with children physically abused in schools for doing so. There is now a language diversity crisis akin to the one facing so much of the world’s flora and fauna.
As one response to this, Glossika helps you learn some struggling languages, such as Welsh and Taiwanese, free. Campbell is encouraging the last speakers of various Indigenous languages to record Glossika sets in their languages. ...
After I did one set, a speaker told me, “You know a lot of words!” That hedged but sincere compliment was dead on; I spoke roughly like a bright 4-year-old, and Glossika did that.