I'm a big proponent of language learning. Earlier this week, I wrote in support of German, not because German is better or worse than any other language, but because I'm familiar with the manifold benefits of practicing my ich, bins, und heisses. Not only does German -- or any language, for that matter -- allow you a new context through which to examine spoken communication, but it's also fun and useful and good for your brain's health. Really, there aren't any good reasons not to try a new tongue and yet America lags behind much of the developed world in this respect.

Many of the international readers of this post likely live in a place where multilingualism is treated as an imperative. Here in the States, foreign language learning isn't a requirement, though it is encouraged. Many colleges ask for at least two years of classes from applicants. But most American learners of second languages don't start until high school, which means that unless we're raised bilingual, most of our foreign language skills are pretty lousy.

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't still do our darndest to try. And with technology making pretty much everything a little easier each coming day, the avenues for foreign language success have never been more open. For example, Lindsay Dow of The Guardian recently posted her top 10 language-learning podcasts. Just as smart devices revived the audiobook industry, our tablets and phones are the most accessible language tutors around. For example, I use the Deutsch Welle learning podcasts (#10 on her list) to sharpen my German. The rest on her list are certainly worth a look as well. I've linked her article again below so be sure check it out.

Read more at The Guardian.

Photo credit: ptnphoto / Shutterstock

And of course, there's always Duolingo, the free learning app created in part by Luis von Ahn. In the video below, von Ahn explains service's smart business model that keeps Duolingo free for all its 50 million+ users.