University director resigns after backlash for encouraging Chinese students to speak English

A Duke University professor stepped down from an administration position over the weekend after she and the school faced fierce criticism over an email the official sent encouraging foreign students to speak English on campus, according to NBC News.

The official was Megan Neely, director of the Master of Biostatics program in the Duke University School of Medicine. She had received complaints from some faculty members that students were “very loudly” speaking Chinese in the study areas.

So, Neely sent a mass email to students in the program to address the issue. In the email, she wrote that the complaining faculty members were “disappointed that these students were not taking the opportunity to improve their English and were being so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand.”

Neely asked students to keep “unintended consequences” in mind when choosing to speak Chinese inside the school building.

“I encourage you to commit to using English 100% of the time,” she wrote.

One professor from Duke University sent out an email asking Chinese students not to speak Chinese in school building. pic.twitter.com/6xGkIeScJo
— Hua Sirui 华思睿 (@siruihua) January 26, 2019

The university apologizes

Medical school dean Mary Klotman apologized to students in a letter.

“I understand that many of you felt hurt and angered by this message,” Klotman wrote. “To be clear: There is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse and communicate with each other. Your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom.”

Klotman also announced that Neely would no longer be the director of the Biostatics program.

“Dr. Neely has asked to step down as director of graduate studies for the master’s program effective immediately,” Klotman wrote.

Neely herself also apologized.

“I deeply regret the hurt my email has caused,” she wrote Sunday. “It was not my intention. Moving forward, it is my sincerest wish that every student in the Master of Biostatics is successful in all of their endeavors.”

This content was originally published here.

Are you looking for the ideal place to study French? We may have something for you

What about immersing yourself in the French language and culture, in Toulouse, city of incomparable charm, nestled in the middle of Occitanie, within reach of both the Mediterranean Sea beaches and the tracks and pistes of the Pyrenees mountains?

We offer French courses given by professionals, visits and excursions organized by our in-house events manager, and the possibility of staying with hosting families…

Our school

The Alliance Française of Toulouse is located in a charming listed building from the 19th century, entirely renovated and equipped with the latest technologies. Situated just 5 minutes away from the metro, our school is easily accessible and within walking distance of downtown. At the bottom of the building, the Niel garden offers a green oasis where you stretch out after your classes or have a picnic.

Our courses

Whatever your level, the Alliance Française of Toulouse will fulfil you. Intensive courses, speaking, writing or phonetics workshops, preparation for examinations, one-to-one lessons, online resource center, tutoring… We do our best to make sure to meet your needs so that you improve your French at your own rhythm. All our teachers are university graduates and experts in teaching French as a foreign language.

Toulouse

Ranked in 2018 at the top of cities ideal for study, according to the magazine “L’Étudiant”, Toulouse is a very pleasant city where friendliness and “la belle vie” are the gospel. It is no coincidence that instead of saying “de rien” (French for “you are welcome”, literally “for nothing”), we say “avec plaisir” (“with pleasure”).

The “pink city”, as we call it, is also the world capital of aeronautics, the European capital of space research, and counts among the most dynamic urban surfaces of Europe. The icing on the cake: Despite of all its numerous qualities, Toulouse remains a city where the real estate is the most accessible!

In order to discover the city, go have a walk in the charming narrow streets of the Carmes or Capitole districts, relax on the Garonne banks, explore the typical markets, visit the Airbus Factory, the City of Space… You will not be bored! Do not forget that Toulouse offers quite a few luxury shops where you will be able to find French perfumes, cosmetics and so on.

Occitanie

Toulouse is in the heart of the Occitanie region and its great sites.
Many tourist sites of first order are at less than a 1-hour drive: the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne, the episcopal City of Albi, the Canal du Midi (which crosses Toulouse), are three sites listed as world heritage of UNESCO. The most remote great sites of Occitanie are 3 hours away: Lourdes, the Cirque de Gavarnie, the Pont du Gard, the Millau Viaduct.

The canal of Midi in French.

Toulouse is also in an area with great gastronomical and wine wealth. Take your time and enjoy a cassoulet, taste our duck specialties, the excellent black truffle from the Lot, the famous Roquefort, king of cheeses according to Diderot and D’alembert or one of the many wines produced in the area: Cahors, Gaillac, Fronton, Minervois, Corbières, Madiran, etc.
Another interesting point, Occitanie is France’s first area of organic production.

Information and registrations on our website:
To contact us: contact@alliance-toulouse.org

You want to organize a tailor-made journey for a group? Contact us!

The post Are you looking for the ideal place to study French? We may have something for you appeared first on France Today.

This content was originally published here.

Learn how to work in Latin America | Learn Spanish Now – Latin American Spanish

Teaching ESL (English as a second language) in Latin America can be an excellent opportunity for not just aspiring teachers, but really anyone who speaks, reads and writes English to live among and learn from some of the most diverse cultures of the world. The huge continent of South America provides a myriad of opportunities for those who wish to share his/her knowledge of native English.

You can teach in a variety of organizations and environments, ranging from the business circles of Santiago to the primary schools of Columbia. When you’re in South America, there is no lack of teaching options available even for those who may not hold a professional degree in tutoring.

Are you a native speaker of English? Then it will probably be enough in most cases to land you the ideal dream job. And if you haven’t thought about teaching English in this part of the world yet, keep on reading to find out why you should consider this as a possible career option.

Why teach English in this part of the world?

South America is an exotic part of our world that has long captivated explorers from far and wide. The paradise-like beaches, the rainforests, dense and populated with wildlife, mountain tops covered in snow, the overwhelming rush of unique sights and sounds, and the diverse culture are the things that attract millions of travelers from around the world.

The continent is just massive and offers so much variety in terms of natural attractions that anyone who has even a bit of sense of adventure would find it hard to stay away. If you want to experience this magnificent land like the way it should be, pursuing a teaching career here will be among the best choices. Why? It’s because you’ll get to live among the locals, enjoy native cuisines, and learn about their culture like no other passing traveler can.

With so many vibrant countries, cultures, and cities to experience, deciding to teach English here will put you in the best place to enjoy the wild continent. Forget about package holidays and tour guides; you can have the best possible travel experience living among some of the most beautiful people in the world, and that too for a noble cause.

Teach English in Latin America without a degree? Yes.

Similar to many parts of Asia, teaching jobs are available all over South America for the native English speaker even though they may be inexperienced teachers or not even teachers at all. However, those who have the highly valued TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate will have a much greater choice of job opportunities due to the weight it carries in these parts. You may also be able to make arrangements regarding employment with a school even before entering the country.

Here are a few online sources where you can obtain the necessary certification – just click on the name to find out more:

Since you’ll be mostly teaching English as a second language, the requirements and qualifications here are not as high as in other English-speaking countries. And the best part of teaching in South America is that in many cases your employment may also include accommodation as a part of the package.

That’s not all, because some schools even reimburse their teachers the airfare cost once they have completed their teaching contract. Even though it would be wrong of you to expect very high wages, you can expect to return home with a lot of interesting stories and memories to cherish for a lifetime. Oh! You can make a bit of saving too because the cost of living here is equally low.

Teachers having TEFL certificates may be able to apply in independent universities that promise slightly better money and other perks. However, conditions will vary based on country and school, so it’s close to impossible to make an estimate without actually inquiring with the institutions first.

Keep in mind that schools throughout the continent usually stay closed during December and January months for the holidays.

Where can I teach English?

Many TEFL certificate holders head straight to the hub of South American nations like Brazil and Peru, but many other locations deserve mention as well. The top destinations that you might consider teaching English as a second language are the following:

1. Brazil

Before anyone mentions it, I know that Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish. I travelled to Brazil and found I was able to make myself understood when speaking Spanish but I had a harder time understanding the local people due to different pronunciations and the dialect. The written Portuguese, in my experience, was very similar to Spanish and didn’t really cause me any problems.

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America where there is always a need for teachers coming from native English speaking countries. Brazil is also the fifth largest nation in the world and although is presently in an economic slump, it has enjoyed and will enjoy again further periods of very strong growth and expansion. It will continue to be among the world’s leading “emerging markets” with expanding options in trade and tourism. There is a strong demand for English teachers here.

You’ll find plenty of options by heading to this country, ranging from the state school to reputed universities. However, the best opportunities often lie in corporate teaching and private language schools. Not only do they provide better wages but put you in contact with highly motivated and influential people who are eager to learn English.

Apart from the country’s obsession with football, Brazil is also famous around the world for its extravagant carnivals that are so identifiable with this country. Some people say that Brazil is an ongoing party place offering countless sunkissed beaches, exotic rainforests, and an eclectic mix of friendly people, cultures, food, and pulsating atmosphere. Just don’t ignore it’s economic potential!

If you’re an individual who enjoys socializing and doesn’t mind the occasional wild party to sweep you off your feet, then Brazil is the place to be!

2. Argentina

Argentina is one of the most developed countries of the entire South American continent, and its people are considered in high regard. Even though this country has suffered economic hardships in the past, they have bounced back from their woes much like their neighboring country Brazil. Of course, there’s always a demand here for TEFL teachers.

The vast majority of English-speaking jobs are available in Buenos Aires, and similarly to Brazil you’ll find the best opportunities in private schools and in teaching business executives. Those without the TEFL certificate can also apply for jobs provided they speak native English. However, their choices will be limited in comparison to TEFL teachers.

Argentina covers a huge part of the southern half of Latin America and offers spectacular natural scenery to explore. Once you’ve got your teaching career underway, you’ll be free to explore everything ranging from the northern desert lands to the famous glaciers and thick forests of the far south. Needless to mention, with your knowledge of Spanish you’ll be able to mingle with the local crowd as well.

This country also has one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, for which Buenos Aires is nicknamed as “Paris of South America.” Argentina is a country perfect for the cultured and those who appreciate the great outdoors.

3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica, with its long-standing economic and political stability, has one of the largest markets for native English speakers in the continent. It is definitely one of the better countries for an English language teacher looking for work as salaries are reasonable, and cost of living is economic. One slight negative  here is that due to this country’s popularity, the competition for jobs here can be a bit tougher. Even though Costa Rica is less “wild” than other South American countries, it can be a great place to live for those who prefer a slower pace of life.

Since the English language is held in high regard here, you can find decent job opportunities in both high schools and universities. Of course, it goes without saying that private language schools and teaching corporate executives will let you get the best experience regarding monetary gain as well as satisfaction.

Should you decide to head to Costa Rica, the best place to start job hunting would-be San Jose, which despite being the capital city offers a somewhat lower cost of living. Moreover, San Jose is less touristy than other capitals, which means it’s perfect for those seeking a calmer way of life. Need more reasons to come to Costa Rica?

Even though this country is small in size, it still offers a great diversity of natural attractions which includes volcanoes, rainforests, and breathtaking beaches. It is also a country that boosts coastlines on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Once you come to Costa Rica, the laid-back natives and the beauty of the country will never let you leave.

4. Peru

Peru is another country that attracts many native English tutors from around the world thanks to its fast-growing economy and very low cost of living. Here, TEFL teachers will be able to live comfortably even on an average salary because of low costs and high economic stability. The country itself is beautiful and offers many sights and sounds for everyone to enjoy.

As an English teacher, you’ll be able to land the most job opportunities in Cusco, which lies at the gateway of the Inca Trail or in the capital of the country, Lima. No matter what your choice is, the massive tourism industry will definitely give you an urge to explore. Teaching in the capital would be best if you want to impart your knowledge to enthusiastic business leaders.

Peru is best known for its ancient cultures and the fascinating archaeological hotspots that draw people from all around the world. As you may know, this country is the home of the mysterious Incan civilization that has fascinated the world for many decades. From interesting ancient arts, customs and crafts, and some of the world’s most secluded sites, you’ll find it all in Peru.

Here, you’ll also find one of the greatest indigenous populations in the world, with more than 50% of the natives being the descendants of Inca tribes. It is estimated that the rainforests of the country also host more than 100 tribes. Opportunities for earning and excitement are galore in this part of the world.

5. Mexico

Mexico is one of the United States’ biggest trade partners (at the moment), so there is no lack of university students and business executives in this country waiting to learn English from a native speaker. Having nearly twice the population as the next biggest Spanish speaking country, Mexico welcomes you with endless opportunities for teaching English as a second language.

The possibilities are even more for certified English teachers as this is the only country where possible to find English teaching jobs throughout the year. Even though most people who arrive here to teach, find their jobs online before landing, many teachers also prefer interviewing in person in places like Mexico City, Puebla, and Guadalajara.

You’ll also be able to land jobs in beach hotspots like Acapulco, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta as these are locations where people need to learn basic English for employment in the tourism industry. While competition in the tourist zones will be plentiful but with some Mexico is not just a country; it is a feast for the senses as it boasts of having a fascinating mix of cultures in the world and all the attractions that come with it.

6. Chile

Chile is perhaps the most economically stable and prosperous country in South America that is still improving in many ways. The demand for English education here has been on the rise since the last couple of decades, and this place also happens to be one of the few Latin American countries where having a legal work permit is the norm.

As an English teacher, you can expect to earn a salary to live a very comfortable and fulfilling middle-class Chilean lifestyle. To begin the job hunt, you may head to the capital and largest city of the country, Santiago, where the demand for native English teachers is very high. If you’re a certified English teacher, expect to find plenty of opportunities available.

Although a lot of teachers lineup jobs before arriving in the country by way of online interviews, interviewing in person is also lucrative. The hiring seasons in this country are February or March and July or August. Like all South American countries, here too you’ll find teaching opportunities in private schools, universities, and with many business executives.

Other Latin American Countries

Apart from the countries mentioned above, you can also teach in nations like Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, and The Dominican Republic. Each place has its own agent competency requirement and offers vastly different remunerations to native English teachers. Although as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to get paid more, sometimes a lot more, if you have a teaching degree.

All of these are developing countries that provide brilliant opportunities for the budding English teacher to kick-start a career. However, it’s important to know that apart from in a few of the bigger and more famous cities, you’re unlikely to find too many other English teachers as you would find anywhere else around the globe.

This is mainly because a lot of people still hold the misconception that South America is a place of nothing more than crime, corruption, poverty, dictators, and drug lords. That is of course not true because Latin America is home to an enormous variety of generous and charming people who are more than eager to mingle with travelers and learn the language of the “gringos”.

Importance of certification and knowing the regional language

To teach just about anywhere in South America at a professional level, you’ll need a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate. Many employers accept online TEFL certificate, but your best bet to land a job would be to go for an in-person, in-country certification course that comes with complementary job search assistance.

Having a certification can also help you land lucrative private tutoring sessions, which most teachers in South America rely upon to boost their income.

Why Learn Spanish To Teach English?

There’s a ton of reasons! Because as I mentioned elsewhere, you need to understand your students who will want to clarify things in their own language – put yourself in their shoes. Secondly, the whole idea of this is that you will live and work in Latin America – you need to learn the local language. Take it from someone with real-life experience (me) – life is ten times easier, and ten times more enjoyable, if you have a decent grasp of the local language. Also, at the time of writing, there’s a pretty good chance that not everyone you meet will have their noses buried in their smartphones – yes, a lot of people here actually like to talk to other people. I think they call it “having a conversation”.

While it may not be necessary for everyone to be fluent, having some knowledge of Spanish, or Portuguese in the case of Brazil, will help you a lot while teaching as well as interacting with the native population.


Many TEFL certification programs also offer local language training, some more intensive than others, so that the teachers can begin their journey in a different land with confidence. This is another factor you have to consider when deciding on a certification path.

Credentials are not always needed

Most teachers agree with the fact that South American students are a lot of fun to teach because they are very vocal. If you have lots of enthusiasm apart from good education and are willing to stay back for a whole academic year, you may be able to land a job with a reputed language Institute. Many of these institutes provide their own compulsory pre-job training.

The academic year in most of South America begins in February to early March and continues till December. The best time to start job hunting is perhaps few weeks prior to ending of summer holidays. However, lots of institutes run 8 to 12-week courses throughout the year and are more than willing to employ a native English speaker regardless of the time.

Obtaining work visas require getting together a variety of documents including, notarized and translated copies of relevant qualifications, police clearance, etc. and of course a hefty fee. Consequently, a lot of individuals teach English in Latin America on the basis of tourist visas and obtain a work permit while there. However, the permits must be kept up to date by applying for an extension or by crossing to and from a neighboring country.

Not only will teaching here give you a good exposure to the native cultures, but also let you take in the notorious Latin spirit for life.

This content was originally published here.

Duolingo now helps you learn Chinese

Online language learning platform Duolingo is finally introducing a course to help English speakers learn Chinese.

The launch comes some six months after Duolingo introduced a Japanese course, which, along with Chinese, was among the company’s most requested language courses. Duolingo also recently released a Korean course in beta.

Founded in 2011, Duolingo is a popular language-learning service that uses gamification techniques to help people to learn to read, listen, and speak in more than 20 languages. The company has raised north of $100 million in funding since its inception, and it now counts more than 200 million users.

Chinese is considered to be among the hardest tongues for English speakers to learn, as a tonal language that uses pitch changes to convey different meanings from words. This goes some way toward explaining why Duolingo has taken so long to launch in Chinese.

Masato Hagiwara, research scientist and software engineer at Duolingo, said:

To illustrate how tones can make all the difference, take shi: with a high, flat tone, shi means “lion”; shi with a rising tone is “stone”; shi with a low tone is “history”; and shi with a falling tone is “to be”— all vastly different meanings. In fact, there are so many words with the same sequence of sounds but different tones in Chinese that you can write an entire poem about a poet who tried to eat stone lions only using a single syllable — shi — with different tones.

Given how pivotal tones are in mastering Chinese, Hagiwara said that the company has developed a “completely new type of exercise” dedicated to learning tones early in the learning process. “The course will gradually teach you how to distinguish difficult sound differences,” he added.

Above: Tones

It’s worth noting here that completing Duolingo’s Modern Standard Mandarin Chinese course won’t make you a native speaker — that requires years of dedication, immersion, and thousands of hours of study. Instead, the course focuses on 1,000 words and around 1,000 characters covering “all vocabulary and grammar points necessary” to pass up to and including level 3 of the official HSK Chinese proficiency test, and around half of the content of level 4.

“This is enough to bring you up to an upper beginner level,” added Hagiwara.

Above: Characters and sounds

In terms of what you’ll learn, it’s the usual kinds of things you may need to travel in China, such as introducing yourself, and things relevant to your everyday life, such as work, weather, and feelings. Key themes include food and travel, rather than grammatical theory and concepts. “You’ll learn a practical mix of vocabulary and grammar as you complete these thematic lessons,” noted Hagiwara.

Chinese represents the 29th language course available for English speakers on Duolingo, and a bunch of others are currently in development, including Arabic, Hindi, Yiddish, and — somewhat bizarrely — Star Trek’s Klingon. The Game of Thrones’ High Valyrian vernacular already launched on Duolingo earlier this year too.

Chinese will follow a similar freemium model to other courses on the platform. It’s basically free, but Duolingo will show ads and charge for additional features. There’s also a Duolingo Plus subscription, which launched earlier this year, that costs $10 per month for no ads and offline access.

This content was originally published here.

Spanish at Home – Aprendemos en familia – Learn Spanish With Book Written By Three Bilingual Moms [Book Review + Giveaway]

Spanish at Home – Aprendemos en familia – Introduce the Spanish language to your kids in a fun and creative way

This content was originally published here.

‘Learn English’: KU engineering professor removed as class instructor following remark to international student

LAWRENCE, Kan. — “Learn English.” That’s what students in a University of Kansas engineering class say their professor told an international student on Tuesday. Now the university says it has a difficult decision to make.

Dr. Gary Minden has been teaching at KU’s School of Engineering for nearly 40 years. However, Tuesday’s embedded systems class left many of his students stunned.

“Did he just say that?” student, Kyle Kappes-Sum said.

Engineering students say Minden told another student, who classmates say is Chinese, to learn English. Those in the room say the student was using his phone to translate the lecture, but the class has a no cellphone policy.

“We all sat there stunned for a second, and then someone called him out on it,” Kappes-Sum said. “He proceeded to – first I don’t think he was aware that he said it, and then once that was, he continued to defend his action for about the next hour.”

Students say the mood in the room changed at that point, and the tenured professor began to defend his choice of words. They say he started pointing to students and ask what they thought about what he said. Kappes-Sum says the statement happened within the first five minutes of class, and the rest of the hour the statement was the topic of conversation for Minden.

“The whole class was clearly uncomfortable,” Kappes-Sum said. “There was people who just said – ‘I don’t want to be a part of this.'”

On Thursday, KU’s dean, department chair and provost addressed the class about the incident. The administrators told them Minden would no longer be their instructor for this specific class.

“Only a third of the class showed up today, because people weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Kappes-Sum said.

FOX4 talked to Minden, who showed up to the class, but declined to comment on camera, and said he’d, “Done enough damage already.” He went on to say that he “made a mistake,” however, he “doesn’t feel responsible for student failings.”

The University of Kansas said in a statement to FOX4:

A number of students have raised concerns about events that occurred in their engineering class. In response to those concerns, the university has assigned a different instructor to teach the course while the matter is reviewed.”

Kappes-Sum says the class has people from many countries in it, and part of their college experience is meeting, and learning from different people with different cultures.

KU will be on Spring Break next week, and administrators say the new instructor will pick up the class when school is back in session.

This content was originally published here.

Is Ilini the Best Way to Learn French with Videos?

Language learning platforms are online programs that let you study a language in their own specific way. Some focus on writing or listening, while others might be more about vocabulary or grammar.

One language learning platform I recently discovered is . Founded in 2017, Ilini at first seems similar to FluentU, a platform I reviewed previously. But exploring Ilini, I quickly discovered some major differences.

Let’s take a closer look at the Ilini language learning platform. Could it be just what you need to take your French to the next level?

What I liked about Ilini

At first, Ilini seems like fellow language learning platform FluentU, but on a smaller scale. Compared to FluentU, there’s a much smaller selection of YouTube videos that actual French people would watch (news clips, music videos, vlogs from popular French YouTube stars) with the platform’s own subtitles. The selection is still good, though, and the various activities that go with each video will keep you busy for a while.

There are three different learning levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. You can toggle between them to select videos in different levels, which I like because if you tried a harder level and felt like it was too much, it’s easy to find something a bit simpler.

One way that Ilini stands out for me is that when you click on a word in the subtitles, you’ll get a very thorough definition, with multiple meanings listed (when applicable). This could seem confusing, since you have to determine which of the definitions applies to this particular context, but I never found it to be particularly problematic, and as someone who loves learning about words, I thought it was cool to see how a particular one is used and understood in different ways in French.

The Ilini subtitles offer several options. You can watch a video with English or French subtitles (here’s our strategy for how to use these progressively) . You can also slow down the French audio if needed. 

Unfortunately, I found that on very rare occasions, the subtitles might bug just a bit. For example, when I listened to Christine and the Queen’s always awesome song “Saint Claude”, the subtitles would freeze just before the refrain.  I tested this with a few other songs, and it didn’t seem to be an issue, so who knows? I might have come across the one single subtitle issue on the entire platform.

Another Ilini feature that I really like is that the quizzes that go with each video ask comprehension questions as well as vocabulary-related ones.  Other platforms might only focus on one or the other. 

That said, one downside is that the vocabulary part of a quiz can be a bit weak, since you’ll only be asked about the words you clicked for a definition while watching the video. Then again, this is actually kind of helpful, since it means you won’t have to go over or linger on words you already know.  

I feel like that makes this platform better for more advanced students or for students who just don’t enjoy using the quiz format to learn vocabulary.

But if you’re worried that you won’t be able to really focus on words, don’t be. Ilini automatically generates flashcards for every word you’ve clicked for a definition – and they are great! Under “My vocabulary”, you can choose to view that list as flashcards. Click the French word to see and hear the English answer (if the word appears in English at first, toggle the language option on the left of the screen). You can also click “view details” to find out what video(s) the word comes from, as well as its definition. 

As with a lot of other aspects of Ilini, the flashcard format is as close to an actual, old school physical flashcard as you can get – you have to “flip” this one over to get the answer.

If that doesn’t seem like enough to practice with, Ilini includes additional exercises, puzzles, and other activities that go with each video (answer keys are included). This is not only helpful for students; as a former EFL teacher, I couldn’t help but think how cool these would be for French instructors to use from time to time.

That said, while teachers are used to printables, not all students are today, and if that includes you, you might not be thrilled by the fact that only the quizzes that go with each video are online and interactive. All of the other learning materials are PDF’s that you have to download and probably print out. 

Still, personally, I think this is a good thing. It’s another way to learn. For example, with exercises that ask you to put sentences from a video into the correct order, instead of just typing in words or copy/pasting, you can cut the phrases out from the printed sheet and (on your own, or with students or fellow learners) put them together manually. In addition to the fun aspect, this kind of hands-on learning can actually benefit some people, since they’re having to really pay attention and touch the phrases.

Even so, I know that many people might find it a bit strange that in our paperless era, these relatively simple exercises wouldn’t be integrated into the platform.

Another thing that might seem old-fashioned is that everything on Ilini is labeled. If you want to find something or understand what precisely to click on to, say, stop a video, you’ll find it neatly and clearly spelled out – often literally. Personally, I love this. If I’m using a platform to learn a foreign language, I don’t want to have to spend time guessing what to do or make silly and time-wasting mistakes like clicking on an arrow that doesn’t lead where I expected, which sometimes happens when I use more “intuitive” interfaces.

On the other hand, here’s one modern feature on Ilini: a built-in French-English/English-French dictionary that not only gives you definitions, but also shows if a word is spoken in one (or more) of the platform’s videos. I love that the dictionary doesn’t just include vocabulary specific to these videos – it’s a resource on its own.

What I didn’t like about Ilini

Much as I like Ilini, it suffers from what I see as the main flaw of many similar platforms: There isn’t much here that’s interactive or going to help you with grammar, usage, and speaking.  

Other disadvantages of Ilini include a much more limited selection of videos compared to the somewhat similar FluentU, for example. There are also no purely audio resources. Neither of these may be permanent, though. When I reached out to Ilini founder Benjamin Rey, he told me that the platform is still evolving, with new features planned for this year.

And, as I wrote above, if you don’t like having to print out exercises and prefer a more modern interface, you might be a bit disappointed or at least a little thrown off.

So, let’s break this Ilini review down:

The Pros of Ilini

The Cons of Ilini

How much does Ilini cost?

If Ilini seems like the platform for you, there are two pricing options, and both are pretty reasonable. You can also use some very limited features for free.

The Learner Essentials plan costs 5.99 USD and offers unlimited access to the interactive player, online quizzes, My Vocabulary and flashcards.

The Learner Plus plan costs 9.99 USD and adds transcripts and translations as well ad PDF exercises.

Is Ilini the best language learning platform for me?

Much as I like Ilini, personally, it depends on what kind of learner you are.

If you like delving into details and doing a lot of different exercises around a particular video or set of vocabulary words, Ilini is a great choice.

Regardless, no language learning platform is complete enough to really help you grasp every aspect of French on its own. Here is a list of other resources you should find and use along with Ilini, to really improve your French in every way. Most of these resources are free, so you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you’re looking for a way to practice listening and not only improve your vocabulary, but really get to know French words, (even words not included in any of its features, thanks to its built-in French-English/English-French dictionary), Ilini is the platform for you.

Why not get started by watching a video or using its dictionary to look up a word you’d like to learn in French? Amusez-vous et bon apprentissage (Have fun and happy learning!)!

This content was originally published here.