Having an additional language that you can get by in is something exceptional. It’s helpful when you’re traveling, and it can even advance your career, but learning a new language with a tutor is rather expensive.
However, if you are motivated and have a bit of self-discipline, there are ways you can learn a language for free!
Free Online Resources
First of all, there are free online resources where you can get the basics down. As your next step, you’ll want to improve your skills by trying to converse or write letters in your new language. When you are this far in your learning, you can turn to “language exchange” programs in which you and someone from another country teach each other. Once again, there are lots of free alternatives.
To get you started we’ve compiled a list of the free language learning and exchange resources you can use – obviously; you will have to do a bit of picking and choosing as you’ll never be able to use them all!
1. The American Foreign Services Institute
The site is basic, but the information is high-quality. All the learning materials are free, and there is an incredible variety of languages accessible, including African languages that you would struggle to find info for elsewhere. You can also listen to audio recordings to get your pronunciation right.
Babble is a lot more informal. The list of languages you can learn is somewhat shorter, but you will be able to find all important world languages here. The big advantage of this site is that it’s very mobile-friendly, making it possible to learn on the go.
We all have our own way of learning, and those who are visually orientated will love Memrise. Instead of using a conventional teaching method, you get presented images that represent phrases. Users keep producing new ones, so it’s always fresh. For a fun strategy that turns learning into a game, this is a good choice.
Busuu offers 12 languages and uses interactive features and games to teach you the language you chose. It’s practical, conversational language learning, and you can interact with other learners, adding an element of “language exchange” to the experience.
According to Busuu, all it takes is 10 minutes a day. Once you are proficient, you’ll get a certificate from Busuu and McGraw-Hill Education.
5. BBC Languages
BBC Languages offers no less than 40 language classes. You get audio and video lessons that will make you proficient enough to handle a conversation, and you’ll have to sign a few quizzes too. This is a great site to use if you are preparing for a holiday. Even if all you learn is greetings and thanks (although you can take it much further than that), your hosts will like you better for trying!
Turn learning into a game with Duolingo. Every aspect is game-like, so you’ll get plenty of entertainment as you learn. Best of all, there are mobile app versions that you can take along to while away time that would otherwise have been unproductive.
There are two versions of this language learning app: a paid one, and a free one. As a result, we’d say that you’ll be able to learn up to a point with the free version and then decide if you want to take it further. The teaching method is based on the “flash card” system, and you can learn using your smartphone.
If you’re into free learning, this site offers an incredible range of subjects, including languages. In fact, there are so many courses available, that you’ll probably have to hit the search feature to find what you’re looking for!
9. Learn a Language
It’s simple. Choose a language and get started! There are lessons, games and activities to keep it interesting. The site also sells linked products, but you should be able to make significant progress without spending a dime.
To use this site, you’ll already need a basic grounding, but the fun thing about this is that you can check yourself with the help of a native speaker. Upload sound bites to check your pronunciation, ask someone to check your grammar – just post your question and wait for the response.
Now that you have learned the basics, you want to test out your skills and see if you can make yourself understood. The only cost for language exchange is payment in kind. If someone helps you with Chinese, for example, you would have to help them with English. It’s a great way to learn and make new friends.
1. Go Speaky
Use this platform to find a language exchange partner in another country. You can handle all communications including video calls through the site, so it’s very safe to use. Everyone is there for the same reason as you are, so the chances of meeting an internet pest are relatively small.
2. Language Exchanges
This site is very basic but effective. It will help you to find a language exchange partner, and after that, you will communicate via Skype or email. Speak, write and enjoy your conference.
3. Conversation Exchange
This service is very similar to the one offered by Language Exchanges, with the additional benefit of helping you to find a language exchange partner in your area. Once you have established mutual trust, you can get together and chat face to face.
4. My Language Exchange
It’s a very basic site, but it has a few little extras over and above helping you to find an e-buddy for language exchange. You can play word games in your new foreign language, and group homestay exchange feature.
InterPals caters for people with a broad range of agendas from those seeking a date or a pen pal to language exchange. You may have to ignore a lot of messages on the live chat feature, but you can reduce interference by blocking signals from countries you aren’t interested in.
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