I've tried out various language learning software (Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, Transparent), and I've been severely disappointed by the fact that not one of them actually teaches you the LANGUAGE, they teach phrases and basic communication, but it's all done through repetition and association, rather than actual cognition. I'm looking for a piece of software that teaches a variety of languages (ideally Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, and German at least) by teaching you the mechanics of the language, rather than simply having me repeat phrases back at the screen and perform matching games.

For example, with Spanish, I'd like this software to teach me the language's pronunciation rules and letters, conjugation of verbs, give me categorized lists of common verbs, point out irregulars and what their irregularities are, separate the various tenses, and overall teach the structure of the language so I can get to the point where I could read and write the language given only a dictionary, and eventually understand it given enough memorized vocabulary.

If this software exists, I would be grateful to whoever could point me to it.

  • Are you talking about grammar? Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 5:03
  • Grammar would certainly be part of it, yes
    – Ecksters
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 23:27
  • That is a feature of those courses. What you call "mehanics" is only useful if you want to be a linguist.
    – foobar
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 8:27
  • This is not true, although it may be that I have more linguist tendencies than average. At least with my experience with German, one of the better ways to build a good knowledge for the purposes of reading is to get a good grasp of grammar while also learning some vocabulary. If I only memorise phrases and words, this will not be very efficient in the long run particularly for more synthetic languages. I need see a verb and easily guess its uninflected form to be able to look it up in the dictionary, and I may need to know the approximate inflection used to make better sense of things.
    – user5714
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


If you want all of those mechanics of the language, aren't you just looking for a standard Spanish textbook?

Any textbook for the languages you mentioned should cover the pronunciation rules, conjugation, common verbs with irregulars, etc. And it probably is accompanied by audio, as well. Seems just as good as any software for presenting that information.

Here are some free packages that have text and audio, and will probably cover all of the mechanics you mention: http://fsi-language-courses.org/


@slattery's answer is very correct.
I doubt there's any deductive1 model for teaching several languages at once.

However, I consider it is useful to learn several languages at the same time and try to inductively1 figure out what you call language mechanics.

To get back on topic for this site: I was studying Mandarin Chinese and Thai simultaneously for greater effect. One may consider adding Hindi or Sanskrit here.

OTOH, maybe you wonder if there are companies developing classes for various languages. It also seems to be useful. Although various languages require slightly different teaching methodologies, these methodologies are common in many aspects. So having the same vendor gives you some benefits:

  • you benefit from methodology similarities;
  • usually, the same vendor has same topics for many lessons across the languages, e.g. Lesson 1 is "Greeting", Lesson ~10 is "Bargaining on the market", Lesson ~15 is "Discussing weather" etc.
  • you just subscribe and do not change vendors;
  • maybe, you may have discounts or whatever you find with the particular vendor you find;

In this case, you may consider (warning: all courses paywalled):

1 Deduction works from the more general to the more specific. Informally, "top-down" approach.
Induction is moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories. Informally, "bottom up" approach

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