There are many apps out there nowadays that provide free foreign language lessons -- just check out a blog post we wrote profiling Duolingo, Mango Languages, and LiveMocha here. However, if you're looking to practice authentic freeform conversation, Speaky is a great tool. As a mobile or web app, Speaky combines language learning and social networking to allow for fun and easy language practice.
How It Works
- Profiles: you can customize your profile to include a picture, what languages you speak and at what level, conversation topics that interest you, where you're from, your age, and a short description about yourself. The system will then search for people who have similar interests as you who are native speakers in the language you're hoping to practice.
- Language buddies: when you've found a profile that looks to be a good match for you, you can easily add them as a language buddy and begin the conversations. You can run advanced searches for people with a particular interest, in a particular age group, or who speak a language at a certain level.
- Chats and video calls: once you have completed your profile and found a language partner, there are numerous ways to communicate through this site. There is a live chat, so you can talk with people who are also online at that moment. You can also send messages to people when they are offline, to schedule a time to talk or continue a conversation later. Additionally, anyone with a camera and microphone can video chat for live conversation practice, which is strongly encouraged on the site. There is even a built-in calendar to help schedule your conversations and show your buddies your availability.
- Built-in translator: no need to keep a dictionary on the next tab -- Speaky provides a built-in translator in the corner of the browser so you'll never need to put the conversation on pause if you blank on a word.
- Free service: Speaky is a completely free subscription service, and promises to stay that way. There are no premium fees or additional services offered through payment -- if you sign up through Facebook, Google+, or with e-mail, you will have access to the whole site.