Sites like Swagbucks can really help spare your wallet by offering rewards you can turn into language learning resources.

Swagbucks for linguists: premium learning that spares your wallet

Language learning can be a pricey business. Apps, books, subscriptions – they all add up. Enter Swagbucks, which is great for turning clicks into learning resources!

I’ve been using the Swagbucks reward site since November, when I found out that it offers iTunes credit as rewards. I’d put off buying an expensive language learning app, AnkiMobile Flashcards, due to the cost. But if I could earn vouchers to buy the app rather than use my own money, it wouldn’t hit my pocket so hard!

It took me a few weeks of occasional surveys and clicks to reach the £20 iTunes credit I needed. I won’t pretend that it’s a riveting business, filling in surveys! However, it’s no real hardship, and the points accrue quickly. The site is a favourite of Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis as a great way to garner treats in your spare moments.

Swagbucks for the linguist

Once I’d got my Anki app, why stop there? Swagbucks awards treats not only for iTunes, but also Amazon, and even hard cash through Paypal. All three of these can greatly benefit the language learner by providing a payment source for learning resources. Here are some of the things you can do with your bucks:


For a start, you can pay for apps with your iTunes vouchers. There are lots of great pay-for apps, like AnkiMobile Flashcards (which is well worth the high price by the way), and the Eurotalk range of apps for basic vocab.

But you can also use iTunes credit to pay for subscriptions. A couple of big language-learning apps follow a freemium model, where the app is free, but you pay for extra content in the form of subscriptions or add-ons. A couple of the biggies are:


It’s a no-brainer – if you redeem your Swagbucks as Amazon vouchers, you can purchase almost anything. Digitally, that means Android apps, foreign language music and Kindle books. In the real world, it’s practically any language learning tool you like, from language courses to DVDs.


Likewise, cashing out as PayPal gives you a real freedom to choose. You’ll get a slightly lower rate of conversion, though; you’ll get more purchase for your bucks when redeeming iTunes or Amazon vouchers, so only use PayPal if there’s nothing useful you can get with the other two.

In terms of hard cash sites, one of the most useful resources I’ve found is iTalki. The site offers face-to-face lessons with global teachers over Skype, with prices starting from just a couple of pounds per lesson. Convert your Swagbucks to cash, and they’ll go a long way to promoting your fluency when spent on iTalki lessons.

So, a little elbow grease on a rewards site can really help fuel your language addiction. Roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and commit to a Swagbucks survey or two a day. Enjoy guilt-free, wallet-sparing access to premium resources as a result!


Anki for iOS – on the cheap

Like all the best language hackers, I’m a long-time convert to the Anki flashcards system. It’s one of the power tools of language learning, combining science-smart learning methodology with a simple, no-nonsense interface and complete customisability. I use it to build my own personal word lists as I browse and read in my target languages; I come across a new word, look it up, and pop it in.

I generally administer my vocab lists on the free desktop client (available for Windows, OS and Linux), and test myself in my spare moment during the day on the mobile app. However, after switching back to iOS from Android recently, I was, admittedly, discouraged to learn that the iOS version of the app is a not insignificant £18.99 / US $24.99. After using the free Android version, having to pay rankled a bit (being a thrifty Midlander at heart!).

However, with a bit of rational processing, it’s easy to see why the price is more than fair for such a brilliant app. The author does a good job of justifying the cost at this link, and as a fellow independent app developer, I more than get it. The Android version, it turns out, is developed and maintained by a separate group of people. From the official channel, you’re still getting the very powerful desktop software for nothing at all, and £18.99 for adding mobile capabilities doesn’t seem like much compared to other language learning tools, or subscription-based services.

So far, so good – I’d justified why the app was worth £18.99. But the thrifty Midlander in me still seethed silently at the thought of spending that much on an app.

Enter Swagbucks. On the face of it, Swagbucks is a run-of-the-mill survey / pay-per-click site, where bored Internetsters with some spare time go to earn rewards. The site has been fêted a lot on thrift-seeking sites, particularly, in recent years. But wait – Swagbucks can pay out in iTunes gift cards!

I signed up, and set myself a goal – no more than 30 minutes of Swagbucking a day, until I’d earnt enough to cover the app. I won’t lie – surveys and pay-per-clicks aren’t particularly riveting to plough through, so setting yourself a max goal is a good idea. In fact, Swagbucks helps you with this by setting you a daily goal to hit for a bonus. In less than a month, I’d got my two £10 gift cards – that app was mine! *cue maniacal laughter*

So, summing up, this is an age-old tale of a slightly stingy language learner at Christmas time. But if you’re also keen to get the power of Anki on your iOS device, and feel the sting is a bit too sharp, then sites like Swagbucks are definitely worth considering. Happy Swagbucking / Anki-ing! #hohoho