At first glance, the Language Transfer platform could deceive you into thinking that it’s just another staid but placid-looking language learning course, courtesy of its minimalist, static, and no-frills website. Well, it might be so, and yet it is a dependable language resource available to learners absolutely free!
What surprised me the most is that the entire thing is a one-man show, helmed by a Spanish speaker named Mihalis Eleftheriou. So, in a bid to peel off many such layers and explore all that this course has to offer, I sat down to write this Language Transfer review. Are you ready to take this journey with me? Alright then, jet, set, go!
What Is Language Transfer?
Language transfer is an online language learning course started by Mihalis Eleftheriou in the year 2011. Today, 12 years after its launch, it has gained a fair amount of popularity among language learners, all thanks to it being an absolutely free language course that indeed adds value to the user’s learning curve.
The teaching method uses the principles of cognitive science – the Thinking Method – to accelerate the process of learning new languages. It takes advantage of the concept of ‘language transfer’ by drawing parallels between the learner’s native language and the target language. This lays a great emphasis on the similarities and differences between the two languages to give better clarity to the learner.
What is it for: For learning a new language using the popular ‘Thinking Method.’
Who is it for: Learners who prefer to learn a language via audio lessons, focusing more on their spoken skills.
Languages offered: It offers free courses for learning eight different languages: French, Swahili, Italian, Greek, German, Turkish, Arabic, and Spanish, to native English speakers. Its popular Spanish course is the biggest draw of the platform. Language Transfer also offers an English-learning course to native Spanish speakers.
|Language||Course Name||Number Of Audio Lessons|
|Spanish||Complete Spanish||90 Lessons|
|Arabic||Intro To Arabic||38 Lessons|
|Turkish||Intro To Turkish||44 Lessons|
|German||Complete German||50 Lessons|
|Greek||Complete Greek||120 Lessons|
|Italian||Intro To Italian||45 Lessons|
|Swahili||Complete Swahili||110 Lessons|
|French||Intro To French||40 Lessons|
|English (For Spanish Speakers)||Intro a Inglés||40 Lessons|
How Does Language Transfer Work?
The platform offers language courses through the Language Transfer website and its corresponding app. Let’s first focus on the website.
To avail of the free Language Transfer courses, one doesn’t need to do any kind of sign-up or registration. You simply have to open the website and choose your course. It’s as simple as that. Each language has a set of audio courses uploaded on the cloud, which you can start streaming at your ease. Similarly, one simply has to download the app on the phone, choose the language course of your target language, and start listening to the audio lessons.
The courses, depending upon the language, are categorized either as introductory courses’ or ‘complete courses.’ The first audio lessons in all the language setups are all about briefly explaining the language and how the Thinking Method works. This includes how it is implemented within the audio course to help the learner make the most of their thinking prowess – for instance, starting to form complete sentences within the first few lessons. These lessons also give a brief overview of common vocabulary, similar-sounding words, and basic grammar points of the language.
What I found interesting is that the ‘Thinking Method’ used by LT is very similar to the Michel Thomas method. The manner in which they differ is that in the original Michel Thomas courses, one thing is explained one at a time, especially the grammar points. However, in the Language Transfer method, many times, things are clubbed together. The strongest suit, in my opinion, is the insistence that a learner learns the target language by application rather than by memorization.
Moreover, the Language Transfer method identifies the commonalities and differences between the native language (English) and the target language, in order to find a common ground to kick-start the learning journey. By highlighting these patterns, learners are able to grasp fundamental concepts more intuitively.
It also breaks down complex grammar and syntax into manageable chunks. Through guided conversations, the learners gradually internalize sentence structures, verb conjugations, and vocabulary. This approach encourages learners to think critically about how the language works. For me, that is one of the best ways to learn a language in its entirety, rather than mere memorization.
What Are Its Pros & Cons?
Like every other language course, Language Transfer has its fair share of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at both of them.
|Absolutely Free Of Cost||No Chapter Index|
|Provides Great Value To Serious Students And Language Lovers||No Native Speaker Audio|
|Free Thinking Method Guidebook||Lacks Exercises For Other Language Skills Like Reading, Learning & Writing|
|Maximum 15-Minute Audio Lessons||Not Meant For Travelers Or Casual Learners|
|All Lessons Are Free To Download||Basic Interface Devoid Of Fun Features|
|No Registration Required|
|Simple & Easy To Use|
Language Transfer User Interface & Design
Since the platform offers learning via its website as well as its app, we’re going to take a look at both interfaces and discuss their features.
Language Transfer delivers its language courses via a simplistic website, reminding you of the one-man show that runs it. The interface is pretty basic, with the audio lessons embedded under each language in the ‘Free Courses’ section.
One simply has to click on the audio lesson play button to start streaming it. The audio clips are stacked one after the other and range between a duration of 5 minutes to 15 minutes approximately. However, it does get a bit tricky to come back to the exact point where you left previously because the lessons are simply marked numerically and do not hold any description of the content within.
Just like its desktop version, the app interface is also pretty basic and straightforward. The app has a black-and-white look to it with the sketched logo on the landing page.
The landing page opens with the announcement of its latest offering – Introduction to Music Theory course. This is followed by all the nine other courses on offer as you scroll down. The best feature of Language Transfer is that not only are all the courses and learning materials free, but they are also easily available for downloading as well.
The graphic design is devoid of animated features. The use of mute, pastel colors for different language course tabs is the only visually striking feature in the app. The navigation is pretty simple and easy, with only three sections to toggle between – All Languages, Settings, and About.
Each language section opens with Lesson 1. The page also shows the option to scroll through ‘All Lessons’ and access Data Management, as well as the website link for easy navigation.
However, just like its desktop version, the grouse remains the same – no lesson description alongside the lesson number. You’ll only see the duration of the audio lesson, and that’s that.
Language Transfer: Best Features
Since the Language Transfer platform is pretty basic, limited, and no-frill, it doesn’t boast many features to talk about other than the quality of the learning material. Still, let’s find out what are some of its striking attributes.
#1 Free Of Cost Learning Material
As stated quite many times earlier, the no-cost feature makes Language Transfer a pretty enticing resource to language learners who are always on the lookout for inexpensive immersive language learning material.
#2 Audio Lessons
Since the course doesn’t have any written lessons, grammar and speaking exercises, or quizzes and tests like other apps, it solely relies on the content quality and delivery of the audio lessons to make an impression on the learner.
As a learner, you are required to listen to the lesson, pause the audio to reflect upon the concept being explained, and answer aloud to the question being asked. You then resume the audio lesson to listen to the volunteer student’s answers in order to verify your own.
#3 Other Material
The website offers a free-to-download Thinking Method guidebook to anyone interested in learning deeply about this learning methodology or creating courses themselves. The other offering of Language Transfer is the ‘Arabic Vocabulary Thinker Cards’ that can be accessed via Dropbox or Facebook. This is a work-in-progress feature with a promise to deliver voice recordings of the words as well as a print edition of these vocabulary cards. It would be pretty cool if they followed this with other languages too.
The platform – via website and app – also offers an Introduction to Music (Theory) course to teach basic elements of music making. The aim is to show the successful application of the Thinking Method towards creating any other course, not just language.
How Much Does Learning On Language Transfer Cost?
Zilch. As proclaimed on the website, “Language Transfer is an independent project with no sponsors, advertisers, or affiliates.”
And since it is a free language-learning platform, it is sustained by monthly contributions from the learners or regular donations from the patrons.
How I Used Language Transfer: Review
Since Language Transfer is a pretty basic, straightforward, and easy-to-use platform that doesn’t ask for your email ID or card details for registration, I straight away started dabbling with all the courses on offer.
Since I am an intermediate French learner, I started with the Introduction to French course, as well as trying my hand at the Complete Speak Spanish and Introduction to Arabic courses.
What I Liked
- For an absolutely free-of-cost learning course, the platform is decent enough. In fact, the Introduction to Arabic course served me pretty well in learning ‘about’ the Arabic language from a language expert instead of wasting my time sourcing information from different blogs and websites.
- You straightaway get down to business with these audio lessons. No dilly-dallying or faffing about. For instance, lesson 2 of the Complete Spanish course started with how English and Spanish have many similar words that are pronounced differently. The explanation provided behind the difference in pronunciation did allow me to pronounce many a Spanish word on my own, even before listening to the correct pronunciation. That really boosted my confidence!
- The introduction lessons have a good balance of combining the grammar points with the vocabulary and pronunciation practice. Unlike many language learning websites or apps, the course doesn’t depend upon spoon-feeding the learner with translations or fixed phrases in the target language. The aim is to shape your ‘language-building’ ability so that you start to form complete sentences on your own.
Areas Of Improvement
- To start with, indexing all the language courses would immensely help learners save time when they need to jump between lessons for a quick revision, or revisit the lesson at ease based on the content topic. Right now, one wastes a lot of time playing and forwarding the audio to search for the topic.
- The lessons could use recordings in a native speaker’s voice to lend the content much more credibility. For languages like French and Arabic, which have guttural sounds in their repertoire, this is a much-needed requirement.
- In due time, the platform might like to come up with a user dashboard on their website as well as the app to help learners keep track of their learning progress. Right now, it is mostly like listening to a podcast where you need to sit down with a pen and notepad to make notes.
- The platform might also like to invest in providing some interactive exercises or activities focusing on other language skills like reading, writing, and comprehension.
Language Transfer Review: Round Up
All in all, Language Transfer is a pretty decent learning avenue for some popular languages. Though it has limited resources and features when compared to what other language learning players in the field usually offer, what Language Transfer does offer is fantastic. It offers you a ‘learning method’ so you are able to learn any language that you want to. It doesn’t spoon-feed you or give you quick fixes in the form of translations or a list of basic phrases in the target language for you to rote learn.
However, this also makes Language Transfer a resource suitable only for a niche audience. It is definitely not meant for learners who are looking for crash courses or travelers who simply need a phrasebook to get by in a foreign land. It is meant for serious language students who are interested in learning the linguistics of the language, not just how to speak fluently within a few days or weeks.
Learn Languages With Ling
You can use Language Transfer as your foundation course for certain languages. However, if you are someone who likes to work on all modalities of language learning together, you’ll do good by complementing your learning by opting for the Ling app. This language-learning marvel offers you courses in more than 60 languages!
The Ling app runs on a gamified approach to language learning, evident from its bite-sized lessons, interactive dialogues, fun quizzes, and easy exercises. The AI chatbot allows you to have an on-the-spot conversation in your target language so that you can get instant feedback on your comprehension skills as well as vocabulary retention.
In short, it’s a good idea to have Ling handy as you opt for podcast-style language lessons on the Language Transfer website or app. Go to your App Store or Play Store and download the Ling app now to unlock a fun time!