Site URL: Busuu.com/enc/
Content: Busuu, a community-based language-learning site, offers a system of games, groups, exercises and other free resources for learning Spanish, French, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and English.
Design: Busuu’s delightful illustrations and animation immediately captivate users, offering interactive elements at every step in the process. While visually pleasing, easy to navigate and brilliantly designed, Busuu only offers free access to all site content for seven days. Paid membership options after that point range in price from $20 per month to $150 for a two-year membership.
Review: This site teaches beginner to intermediate skills for 12 languages. The most useful resource is the flashcard exercises, which build vocabulary by playing audio in users’ foreign language of choice to match a displayed image. Unfortunately, this feature is only free during the user’s first week.
Busuu’s most attractive feature —and one that stays free—is conversational practice that involves typing and chatting live with native speakers of your language of choice. Speakers, if patient enough, will correct users’ mistakes while helping to further their writing and speaking abilities. While some are educators, other native speakers are ordinary people. Finding a good match on Busuu could therefore take some time. Joining and forming groups is also an important part of the learning process.
Bottom Line: Foreign language teachers hit the jackpot with this site. While its services come at a price, Busuu lets students learn a language from native speakers who act as both teachers and friends.