The first steps - words (or, vocabulary in English)
Ç'kemi, today I want to focus my post specifically on one of the best vocabulary builders out there, especially for Albanian - Memrise. I doubt you never heard of it, but in case you haven't - it's a website for vocabulary building, along with a mobile app for iPhone/Android/Tablets/whatever system you have, which makes it really mobile and gives you the opportunity to access it from everywhere. If you create a profile, you can access your progress in from any device you use, and it also allows you to keep track of your words. It tracks your progress and you can even challenge yourself with the "Speed review" option, which gives you just seconds to give the right answer! It also ranges from simple words to whole sentences, depending on the people who have contributed to it.
Just a note - I would recommend you to use it along with other resources, as most of the courses don't have audio, so you learn how you can write the words, but not how to pronounce them. While it's good if you want to pick up more words, it's not really good on its own.
My first ever lesson pack was called "Basic Albanian", and it gives you 183 really common words to learn (like all the basic greetings, learning the pronouns, asking simple questions, the days of the week, markers for time, the seasons, the months, some common verbs/adjectives/nouns). It is a great "starter pack" (a lot better than the websites that teach you these, as it's made a lot more interactive), if you feel like you want to gasp the very basics first, before moving on to the grammar stuff. The only con is that it has no audio, so going around YouTube to learn how to pronounce these could be a plus.
After that, I stumbled upon the most comprehensive course, called "Most common Albanian words", with 763 (!) common words available. As you can guess it, it will take you through everything basic you can think of - verbs, nouns, adjectives, possessives, pronouns, prepositions, definite forms of the nouns, subjunctive, past tense... I can't even think about everything I learned with that one, as it's a lot. I even had a notebook to write down all new words I stumbled upon after one point.
The biggest PRO is that it has audio at least for the very basic and common part. I hope they may make it available for all soon, but until then, you can really try pronouncing these with that course. Also, they give new verbs in 4 forms (present, past simple, imperfect and the past participle), which pretty much consist most of the Albanian verb grammar (most of the tenses are combination of these), so it's worth noting down and learning them, especially if they have irregular stems. The other really distinguishing and helpful part is that it also teaches you the definite form of some nouns, giving you the nominative, dative/ablative/(genitive) form and the accusative form - great for logical patterns learners like me. (the genitive form should have an linking article before it, that's why I've put it in brackets, but the form of the noun itself is the same)
Next, if you're into learning some phrases, not just words, you can try "Albanian phrases and expressions", which gives you some more useful phrases (like asking for directions, introducing yourself, apologising etc), not just the basic greetings, as it has 298 of them. It's a good base, although there are some inaccuracies (I left a comment about these to the publisher a long time ago, but seems like they're gone, as nothing has changed). It is a helpful starting point, especially if you know some of the words already.
One of the best pronunciation-wise courses I just found is based on the book "Discovering Albanian" by Linda Meniku and Hector Campos, and it's called "Discovering Albanian" in Memrise too. The book itself has a recording for all the words in the dictionaries provided after the dialogues/readings, so, since the Memrise one has the biggest part of it recorded, I think it's a great tool not only if you want to learn all the 1850 words in the book, but also for pronunciation! So that one is my personal favourite, along with the 763 Most common Albanian words. You can learn it without the book, but probably checking it out will help you put that knowledge in context. The only con it has is that some words have similar meanings, so you have to "learn" them exactly the way it gives them to you, otherwise you risk "making a mistake" even for things that are right.
Another I liked is called again "Basic Albanian" and it teaches you simple phrases with the nominative definite/indefinite nouns (so you can learn the forms), along with the present tense of jam/kam. It's a good tool to refresh your memory, if you already know these, as well as learning how to use the demonstrative pronouns. There are also basic words, colours etc. to be learned. It has 174 words, so it's not as huge as some of the others.
If you feel like you're more advanced, then try "Albanian Verbs"! I personally haven't finished that one, as I find it a bit hard sometimes (especially with too many new verbs sometimes), but it has 461 verbs (even some in past tenses) to be learned.
And the last one I've tried is the one accompanying the book "Colloquial Albanian" by Isa Zymberi, called... yes, you guessed it right, "Colloquial Albanian". I haven't finished that one either, as I haven't check out the book yet, but it gives you basic words again. Probably it would be a lot more helpful if you actually have the book and don't rely only on it though... which gives me the idea to try it myself.
That's everything I've tried, there are many more out there, but I haven't checked them out. Also, I try to check the ones with more than 100 words, as I know the very basics already. You can learn many things, like the months, the parts of the body, the colours, the numbers, there are numerous others out there, which I haven't had time to check myself. I will keep my eyes open, in case something interesting comes up.
Hope you found my first review helpful, please let me know in the comments if you've tried another great course in Memrise, so I can review it myself when I check it out.
Kjo është gjithçka për tani, flasim më vonë :) Faleminderit!