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Our Resolutionary New Year, Week 2: Learn a New Language

We're taking on a new year and tackling a new challenge every week this month. Today's target? Master a new dialect. As part of our resolutionary 2013, we're setting our sights on all kinds of foreign languages. And not just Spanish — HTML, CSS, and other programming lingo, too.

Get going on your resolutions and take a look at our geeky guide to picking up a new lingo.

Foreign Language
If you're planning on traveling for business or pleasure, having the mother tongue in your back pocket is sure to come in handy. Study up on Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, and more with these education and dictionary apps for iOS.

  • Duolingo (free) — Like Rosetta Stone, this app uses pictures, sounds, text, and repetitive learning to help you master Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, or English. But, unlike other programs, it's free! Forever! Plus, gather a language support group, connect with friends, and learn languages together.
  • MindSnacks Mandarin (free) — Eight fun games guide you through reading, speaking, and learning Chinese. Unlock all 50 levels with a $5 in-app upgrade.
  • Languages ($1) — This is the ultimate foreign language translator with 12 complete dictionaries. It's fast and it works offline, so you can use Languages without a data connection.

American Sign Language

  • Marlee Signs (free) — Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin teaches the fundamentals of ASL with HD video demonstrations. Get specialized phrases (like baby signs, or just for getting around town) with $2 in-app upgrades.

Now master the bare-bones basics of HTML and CSS, and then advance to the big web dogs after the break.

HTML and CSS
HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is what a web browser like Safari or Chrome reads so that it knows what to display on screen. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, defines the look and formatting of that HTML. Both are essential to coding your own website, and here's how to get acquainted with them.

  • Codecademy is an interactive website that teaches you how to program websites and tracks your progress in a fun, easy-to-use format. The eight-part Web Fundamentals lesson is a great introduction to the building blocks of HTML and CSS.
  • Webmonkey, an online web development and design guide, walks you through the creation of a basic HTML document.

HTML5
HTML5 uses real language in its tags like header, footer, section, and article . . . but it's not always that obvious. This quick vocabulary exercise cuts the confusion and makes coding much easier later on.

CSS3
Cascading Style Sheets define the look of that HTML document you're working on, and CSS3 is jam-packed with new features to beautify your site.

Itching to code your own website? Take a look at our in-depth guides to learning web standards.

Catch up with our prior tech resolution: tech ergonomics.

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