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Top 10 Online Platforms to Learn UN Languages

The United Nations uses six official languages. The first five – English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Russian – were established in 1946. Today, Arabic is both an official and working language. For many years, only English, French, and Spanish were considered “working languages,” but now all six are. To work at the United Nations, you must know at least two of the six languages. The most common ones are English and French since those are used the most, but knowing more is very beneficial, especially if you aim for a UN job in a particular region. Here are the top 10 online platforms to learn UN languages:

Duolingo

In a fairly short time, Duolingo has accumulated a big following. It’s won awards like the iPhone App Of The Year 2013 and Google’s Best of the Best 2014. As of late 2019, it offers 23 languages through almost a hundred different courses. It is a free service, though there is a premium version available if you want to skip ads and levels. Duolingo uses an engaging game-like structure. In addition to its online interface, it has apps available for iPhone, Windows, and Android.

Busuu

The basic version of Busuu is free, but the premium version has more to offer. On its website, Bussu states that an independent study by the City University of New York found that 22 hours of its premium service equals 1 college semester. It also offers a Premium Plus, which it says is best for “serious learners.” Perks include a personalized study plan and official certificates. Busuu currently offers 12 languages, including all six UN languages. An app is available for iPhone and Android.

Papora

Founded in 2012, Papora is a platform that allows you to practice with real people, not AI. This community-based method fosters connections and real-world language interactions. You can post on the site, ask for comments on your writing, and offer critiques on what others are writing. To improve your abilities, there are “bite-sized lessons” that are great for busy people. Available languages include English, French, and Spanish. Visit the website for pricing options.

Preply

If you learn best with guidance, Preply connects you with a real language tutor. Using an AI, it matches you with a tutor based on factors like what language you want to learn, how much you’re willing to pay, and availability. You can look at a tutor’s reviews and experience to help you decide if they’re a good fit. Tutors are ranked on motivation, their methods, how effective they’ve been in the past, and so on. Once you’ve connected with a tutor, you’ll use the chat on the Preply website. There are currently 27 languages and around 25,000 tutors.

LingQ

Founded by Steve Kaufmann, a man who taught himself how to speak 14 languages, LingQ helps with reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. The lessons include reading and listening elements with each one building on the next. There’s a huge variety of lessons covering subjects such as TED talks, fiction, news, and more. Practice and retain with tools like flashcards and tests. Beyond its free mode, LinQ has a handful of subscription options in Premium and Premium Plus.

Memrise

This online platform is based on evidence that people learn faster with mnemonic flashcards. Called “mems,” these cards are used in conjunction with videos and games. These three methods keep the learning process fun and engaging. Memrise has hundreds of thousands of courses for all levels in 16 languages, including the six UN languages. The platform goes beyond grammar and vocabulary, so you can learn about a country’s culture, history, and geography. Memrise is free, but there are paid plan options that unlock more content for serious learners.

FluentU

Using real-world videos like news clips, movie trailers, music videos, and more, FluentU builds language comprehension. All the videos are subtitled, transcribed, and translated, so you can click on any word you see on the screen and learn its definition in context. Other example sentences are included, as well. To test your knowledge, FluentU also offers video quizzes. The platform has five of the six UN languages. It doesn’t have Arabic, but it does have an Arabic Learner blog with resources and other information. Visit the FluentU website for pricing.

Babbel

Babbel is one of the original online language learning platforms. It’s ranked as the world’s #1 innovator in education. It offers 14 languages and courses crafted to improve your vocabulary and grammar skills. Native speakers record the audio, so the pronunciation is accurate. The “Babbel method” is based on tested strategies, new research, and real-world dialogues. Babbel is available through subscriptions, so visit the website for pricing options. It’s considered one of the more reasonably-priced paid platforms.

LinguaLift

Best for beginner to immediate learners, this app provides a full language program with a tutor. When you buy a subscription, you get access to the Language Learning Secrets book, all the available languages, and a customized study plan. A real tutor creates your study plan based on a questionnaire you fill out, which includes your goals, study habits, and schedule. Courses are divided into 10-15 minute sessions, so even if you’re busy, you can find the time to study a little every day. Visit the LinguaLift site for pricing details.

Mango Languages

After getting a makeover in 2019, Mango now offers over 70 languages for its online platform and iOS and Android apps. You can specify which type of Chinese, Spanish, or Arabic you want to learn in addition to English, French, and Russian. Mango describes the lessons as “personalized, adaptive, and conversation-based.” The design of the platform is very slick and user-friendly. In its lessons, Mango considers the goals of specific organizations like educators, businesses, and governments. Subscription-based, Mango offers a $7.99-monthly plan for one language or $17.99 for all languages. Yearly subscriptions are also available.

About the author

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Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.