Learning a new language made easy

If learning a new language is on your list of things to do, there are several products out there to help make that happen. The trick seems to be finding one that will work for each individual and some are a better fit than others.

Back in 2007 Gadling’s Jamie Rhein introduced us to Rosetta Stone, an interactive computer software program that has been proven effective even in elementary school children. Still, the price tag of $449 per language for levels 1-5 may make many think twice. Just trying German, for example, takes $179 to get started.

Babbel, the browser based language learning program also has a mobile app for learning on the go. Both versions come with a speech recognition feature to give users a real time score on their pronunciation.
Perhaps just right to help prep for that next trip, there are various scenarios to learn from like culinary, shopping, urban, etc. Users can take beginner to advanced courses in up to 11 different languages.

Pricing is unique too. Babbel charges by the month for unlimited use starting at $12.95 with no long-term commitment or barely used box staring us in the face when our efforts fail. Prices go down by pre-paying with a six-month subscription priced at $7.95 per month.

Not sure? Babbel will let users try it for free.

The Babbel program has a good track record too with over 1 million users in 2011 in 200 countries. Planning a dream trip to Sweden, I tried a sample lesson and found that Dette kan fungere for mig (this might work for me).

Flickr photo by ob1left

Travel the World with Oscar

In years past, local tourist boards saw generous spikes in traffic after popular movies featured the locations they tout. For example, both Alberta and Wyoming enjoyed gobs of slack-jawed, cash-carrying visitors last year after Brokeback Mountain won all those accolades. If you want to travel to the locations in which this year’s Best Picture-nominated films were set, here’s where you’d have to go.

The nominees for best picture are:

  • Babel — To visit the locations in this whirling dervish of a film, you’d better make sure your passport is current. After all, you’ll be heading to Morocco, Japan, and Mexico.
  • The Departed — Set in Boston, lucky movie-set-hunters may also get to see where Good Will Hunting was filmed.
  • Letters From Iwo Jima — Next month, Military Historical Tours will visit Iwo Jima on the 62nd anniversary of the historic Battle.
  • Little Miss Sunshine — Road trip!!! Follow the dysfunctional Hoover family’s path along Route 66. Just be certain to have a more dependable vehicle.
  • The Queen — Filmed in Scotland, the movie mainly uses stand-ins for the locations on film, but persistent travelers can book cottages at Balmoral Castle.

Personally, I’d like to visit Uganda, but The Last King of Scotland didn’t get a nod for Best Picture. Nevertheless, the 79th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday. You can book your travel any time you like.