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Learn Sinhalese

What are the best apps to learn Sinhalese?

Well-known apps like Duolingo, Babbel or Rosetta Stone offer no Sinhalese courses, but there are other apps for learning Sinhalese that are just as good.

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   Overview of the Sinhalese Language:

The Sinhalese language or Sinhala has about 16 million native speakers. It is the most widely spoken language in Sri Lanka and one of the two official languages there along with Tamil.

Sinhalese is an indoeuropean language, which means that it actually has similarities to European languages, unlike Tamil or other ancient Dravidian languages of South India.

The Sinhalese language has its own alphabet, which is similar to Hindi and other Southeast Asian scripts.

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Now let's take a look at the apps, software and online courses that you can use to learn Sinhalese. The biggest advantage of such learning apps is that they are much cheaper than traditional language courses.

Sinhalese Basic Course

From 17 Minute Languages

Systems: Online Access (PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS)

Suitable for: Beginners and Advanced Learners, Students, Professionals

Content: 1300 words (basic course), 5200 words (complete course), grammar, verb conjugations, exercises

Prices: USD 29,95 (Basic Course), USD 97 (Complete Course)

Overall Value:

The Sinhalese Basic Course contains a vocabulary trainer for the basic Sinhalese vocabulary (1300 words) with native-speaker audio, as well as grammar explanations and various exercises.

The vocabulary trainer works with a long-term memory method, in which the new vocabulary is checked at increasing intervals.

You can choose between text input, multiple choice or simply confirming whether you knew a word or not.

The exercises include text comprehension questions, filling in word gaps or just vocabulary lists where one side is covered.

The basic course corresponds to the official language levels A1 and A2 (explanation of CEFR language levels).

The Complete Course contains:

  • Basic course for beginners (basic vocabulary with 1300 words)
  • Intermediate course (1800 more words)
  • Advanced course for experts (2100 words)
  • Additional specialized vocabulary
  • Covers the official CEFR language levels A1 to C2
There are 17 different languages you can use to learn Sinhalese with this app.

Summary: Much cheaper and even better than the famous Rosetta Stone. There is a free demo version available and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Link: Sinhalese Basic Course and Complete Course

uTalk Sinhalese App

Alternative to Duolingo or Babbel

The uTalk app teaches about 2000 Sinhalese words and focuses primarily on playful exercises. There are several exercises to choose from:

  • Read and listen to Sinhalese words (with translation and photos)
  • Match the Sinhalese word you heard to a photo
  • Speak a Sinhalese word and compare the recording with the original
  • A memory game with pictures
  • Speak the Sinhalese translation of an English word
The vocabulary is divided into 60 freely selectable topics. The special thing about the uTalk app is that you get access to all 160 languages.

The interface of the app is well made and is similar to other apps like Babbel, Duolingo or Mondly.

Summary: Getting access to 160 languages is impressive and the scope (2000 words with native speaker audio and exercises) is also solid.

Link: uTalk Sinhalese Language Course App

Cudoo: Sinhalese Course

Online Learning with Certificates

Systems: Online Access (PC, Mac, smartphones)

Content: Sinhalese video lessons and quiz tests

Prices: USD 12.99 (one course), USD 24.99 (4-7 courses bundle)

Overall Value:

Cudoo is a kind of online university that offers courses with certificates on different topics.

This includes language courses for 160 languages. These are all beginner courses (CEFR level A1 and A2).

For each language there are 1-10 courses and each course has 20-40 lessons.

The lessons each include a short video with new vocabulary and there are short quiz questions below the video.

Summary: The videos are well made, so especially for smaller languages these courses are a good start.

Link: Cudoo Online Sinhalese Language Course

Bluebird Sinhalese App

Sinhalese Lessons and Exercises

Systems: Android and iPhone apps, online version (PC and Mac)

Content: Sinhalese exercises with native speaker audio and speech recognition

Prices: USD 9.99 (1 month), USD 100 (12 months), USD 200 (unlimited), USD 400 (163 languages)

Overall Value:

The Bluebird App offers 146 source languages and 163 target languages and dialects, including Sinhalese.

The Sinhalese language course in this app includes the following:

  • Daily video lessons in three difficulty levels
  • Basic Sinhalese vocabulary on several dozen topics
  • Common Sinhalese verbs with conjugations
  • Analysis of your own pronunciation (with speech recognition)
  • Tests: listening comprehension, filling in word gaps, vocabulary quizzes

There are about 500 video lessons for learning Sinhalese, each 5 to 60 minutes long. For languages with other scripts, the words can also be displayed transliterated in the Latin script.

The Bluebird app has no grammar lessons. Instead, you are supposed to understand the grammar "implicitly" from the examples, like in Rosetta Stone.

Summary: The video lessons and the interface take some getting used to, but the exercises are quite varied. Especially for smaller languages, this app is a viable alternative.

Lingo Sinhalese App

Playful Sinhalese Learning

Systems: Android and iPhone Apps, Online Version (PC and Mac)

Content: Sinhalese lessons and exercises

Prices: USD 19.99 (1 month), USD 40 (3 months), USD 60 (6 months)

Overall Value:

The Lingo Play App offers language courses for 70 languages. It offers "gamified learning", which means learning vocabulary in a playful way.

Each Sinhalese lesson offers the following exercises:

  • Presentation of new words with translation and image
  • Decide whether a Sinhalese word matches the image
  • Select one of four pictures that matches a word
  • Type in the Sinhalese word for a picture
  • Correctly type in a spoken Sinhalese word
In the full version this app offers up to 5000 Sinhalese words. The interface of the app is similar to Babbel, Duolingo or Mondly.

There is also a multiplayer mode and competitions where you can test your Sinhalese skills against other people.

Summary: Overpriced Sinhalese course that does offer some good exercises, but is not better than other similar apps.

Instant Immersion: Sinhalese

Learning Software for Download

Systems: PC and Mac

Suitable for: Beginners and intermediate learners, travel vocabulary, business

Content: Sinhalese vocabulary lessons and exercises

Prices: USD 35 (Level 1), USD 55 (Level 1-3)

Overall Value:

The Instant Immersion Sinhalese learning software is available for download only for PCs and Macs.

According to the vendor, this software is supposed to be "as good as Rosetta Stone", but much cheaper because less money is spent on advertising.

Unfortunately, this promise cannot hold.

The software interface is chaotic and all three "language levels" offer a chaotic mix of easy and difficult words.

Essentially, this software only introduces new Sinhalese vocabulary with native speaker audio and pictures, and then there are a few exercises.

Sinhalese grammar is not included at all.

Summary: Limited scope and bad interface. At least it is relatively cheap and there is a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Linguashop: Sinhalese

Educational Software for Download

Systems: PC (Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP)

Content: Sinhalese lessons with native speaker audio and speech recognition, grammar

Prices: USD 35 (second language for free)

Overall Value:

The Linguashop educational software ("TeachMe") is available for over 90 languages, including Sinhalese. It also includes an audio CD.

The native speaker audio and speech recognition are relatively good.

However, the interface of the learning software is quite chaotic and there are no exercises — only lessons where new vocabulary is presented.

It is also unclear how many words are included in this Sinhalese learning program. There is no information about this on the website.

Some grammar lessons are included — however, these are basically just images with short texts.

Summary: Poor quality for a relatively low price. You get language courses for two languages when you buy, one as a free bonus.

Additional Ways To Learn Sinhalese Online:

Colanguage: Find Skype teachers

Overall Value:

At Colanguage you can arrange face-to-face language lessons online via Skype with language teachers around the world (from $5-10 per hour).

In addition to using apps, it is definitely a good idea to also practice with native speakers in order to learn Sinhalese properly.

Tandem: Find a language exchange partner

Overall Value:

Instead of hiring teachers, you can also find people who are interested in a free language exchange online via Skype.

It is completely free of charge, but you have to act as a language teacher for the other person half of the time.

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