For my second and much longer travels in Georgia, I decided to go head first into learning the language. It’s an interesting, beautiful, and ancient language. It’s also a difficult language for beginners, having it’s own unique alphabet and less than 4 million native speakers.
Most young people in Georgia speak English, while older people speak Russian, so there’s always a way to communicate without learning Georgian. But that would be a shame, especially for people who want to spend more time in this beautiful country. Learning the language of a country opens up so many doors and lets you take a peek inside the culture that tourists cannot. I believe you can’t really understand a culture until you understand the language, or at least some of it.
Here are ether best resources I’ve found for learning Georgian online, through websites, courses, and language apps. Let me know if I missed anything.
- Learn Georgian Ling App
- Learn The Alphabet
- YouTube Course
- Readlang in Georgian
- Free Georgian Phrasebook
- Conversational Georgian Made Easy (Udemy)
- Learn Georgian – 50 languages
- 17-Minute Languages
- Duolingo Discussions
- Forvo for Pronunciation
- Learn Georgian as a foreign language
- Other Georgian Apps
At the last check, there were 19 Georgian teachers on italki – a website for connecting language teachers with students. Of course, this is not a huge pool of teachers to choose from when you consider that there are almost 3000 Spanish teachers. But the hourly rates are pretty low, commensurate with the low cost of living in Georgia and most of the teachers have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of teaching experience.
A neat mobile and web app that uses the flashcard approach to learning. Memrise is the best tool on this list for learning and remembering Georgian words (or words in any language). Using games and videos of native speakers to let you hear (and see) exactly how words are spoken, Memrise uses a repetition-based approach to improving your vocabulary.
There’s plenty to learn in the free version and the pro subscription lets you unlock all courses, features, and other languages. Great for beginners and for people looking for a tool to help them learn when they have a free moment. Not as good a choice for in-depth studies.
Learn Georgian Ling App
The Ling App is an impressive mobile app and web-based learning resource for Georgian and for learning many other foreign languages for travel, work, or personal interest. The free version is really good and the paid version is inexpensive at around $4 a month. I think it’s worth it when you consider the poor quality of many other apps for learning Georgian.
This gamified language learning app makes study more fun than just reeling off words and phrases ad nauseum. If you need to hear a phrase or word again, just tap on the speech bubble. Click the translate button to get an automatic translation to your native language. Slow down a phrase but clicking the “snail” icon and get help with writing the Georgian script – a feature few other tools offer.
Not to be confused with the Ling App above, LingWing offers interactive A1 Beginner lessons on the website and mobile apps. You get a daily number of tasks for free per day. After that, you’ll need a premium account. There might be enough in the free version to get by.
Learn The Alphabet
Want to learn to read the beautiful Georgian letters and script? The Learn The Georgian Alphabet website has everything you need.
According to the site, while the alphabet looks intimidating, it’s pretty easy to learn. The website presents eleven lessons where you learn the full alphabet, 3 letters at a time. Writing is encouraged and there are audio files to help. Free to use.
The Hoda-Georgia YouTube channel offers free Gorgian Language Tutorials (In English). There are plenty of videos on topics like Shopping, visiting a doctor, and the weather by native speakers.
Readlang in Georgian
Another tool that U’ve used extensively for Spanish is Readlang. Nobody talks about this Chrome plugin much but it’s a really great way to improve your language skills without even trying.
ReadLang translates websites in your web browser, but only as you want to translate them. By clicking on certain words to see the translation, you can improve by using context to guesstimate new words. Use the words you already know to help learn new vocabulary. ReadLang also has a flashcard feature that tracks your learning and helps you improve your skills through focused repetition (a proven method for learning a language)
Free Georgian Phrasebook
Use this free phrasebook to learn some of the most important words and phrases you’ll need to get by while travelling in Georgia. From the lovely netizens at Wikitravel.
While this resource is limited, it’s a good reference page for quick phrase checking and bite-sized learning.
HelloTalk is a mobile-only app for chatting with native speakers all over the world. You can set one practice language for free or upgrade if you plan to use the app for more than one target language.
There are many native Georgian speakers on the app and you can filter by people who wish to work with everthing from beginner to proficient level. Filter by region, city, gender, and age so you can get the perfect language partner.
There are also games, listening practice lessons, grammar lessons, culture articles, and other materials as well as personalised live classes to take advantage of. An all round solid tool for learning Georgian.
Conversational Georgian Made Easy (Udemy)
This course on Udemy is a bargain at $14.99 (check for special offers) and gets 4.5/5 rating. The course is normally priced at $29.99 but new students get it for half price.
There are 3 hours of on-demand video to help improve your conversational skills.
Learn Georgian – 50 languages
The 50 Languages website is a great resource for free tutorials on Georgian (as well as many other less in-demand dialects)
With 100 free lessons on topics like “public transportation”, “to need – to want”, “getting to know others”, “Where is…?”, and “asking for something”, you’ll be able to communicate with people in no time.
You can also download all of the MP3s for the lessons directly from the site for free. If you want to get started with phrases in Georgian, this is a good place to start. Not the most complete app around for learning the language, but it’s a good free supplement to your studies. Upgrade to the premium version for $2.99
The 17-minute method aims to teach you a language in only 17 minutes. I’m not sure what the science is behind this time constraint, but it’s enough time to get some learning done, but not too long that it makes you procrastinate.
This is aimed at travellers who want to get a handle on travel vocabulary (reading signs, booking accommodation, counting, medical assistance, etc).
There’s a 2-day free trial to check it out and it works on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and most tablets.
Glossika uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn your Georgian level and adapt to your needs. There are no grammar lessons, but if you want to improve your accent and your speaking skills, this is a worthy tool. You can test yourself any time and set daily goals to help you progress.
uTalk claims to have a method for getting you talking right away. It’s all about recording yourself saying words and phrases and improving based on games. A beginner-level app for comparing your own pronunciation with that of native speakers. You won’t master Georgian with uTalk (or any other app for that matter) but you will get a flying start on the basics.
While the excellent Duolingo app doesn’t cover Georgian yet, a language teacher posted many lessons on the discussion forums. Together, these make up a pretty decent body of knowledge about the language.
The Kartvelian subreddit is a general discussion about the language. It’s not a super-active subreddit, but there are some interesting discussions, nuggets of information about the Georgian script and the alphabet, grammar advice, and recommended links from other Redditors.
Forvo for Pronunciation
Wondering how a word sounds but can’t find an audio version of it, check Forvo to see if anyone has uploaded a recording of themselves saying the word. Google Translate doesn’t yet have audio translations of words, so this is the best tool to use for now, despite the limited number of audio files.
The Reluctant Georgian Learner blog is not promoted anywhere, has no social presence, and doens’t rank well on Google, so you might not have heard of it. But the content is well worth a read if you’re interested in the language learning process as it relates to Georgian. Learn from someone who has been there and done it.
The GEOFL.GE website is a leftover from the land that time forgot, and it’s all in Georgian (not great for total beginners), but if you can find your way around, there are lots of resources for learning. Use Google Translate or ReadLang to find your way around. Find free books, tutorials, audio quizzes, and online exercises.
Learn Georgian as a foreign language
A Facebook group for improving your skills, asking for advice, and learning about Georgian.
Other Georgian Apps
There are a clutch of apps on both the App Store and Google Play store that offer lessons and tutorials. The inventively-named apps-there’s at least two called “Georgian”- are packed with ads and tricky to use. You can upgrade to remove the ads but I’m not convinced this is even worth a few dollars. Neither app has had an interface upgrade since the iPhone 1 was released. Paying money to be frustrated is in nobody’s best interest. Stick with the quality apps and tools mentioned above.
if you’re interested in the roots of the Georgian language and it’s history, this episode of the excellent Eureka podcast by Misha Saul (a Georgian who grew up in Australia) does a terrific job of explaining everything you need to know.
If you want a language course, grammar resource, app, or tool included in this list, reach out and tell me why.