Would you believe that 20% of Americans say that not learning a second language is one of their biggest regrets? In addition to obvious benefits when traveling to a foreign country, knowing a second language is a boost on a resume, is a great way to learn about other cultures and is also fun, enriching, and exciting!
Classes at a community college can run as much as $750 a semester, and learn at home programs such as Rosetta Stone can cost as much as $599! With prices like that, learning a second language might seem as though it is simply out of the budget.
In addition to learning a new language for free, these sites have the added benefit of teaching us more about different cultures. Get an inside glimpse into a foreign country before visiting to learn more about what to expect and how to be better prepared.
More than 40 different languages are available through Open Culture, in addition to an array of other educational and cultural tools. Language courses include Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Swedish and more. Download lessons for free via iTunes.
Learn more about the culture in addition to mastering the language by visiting the “travel” tab. Here viewers can watch travel-themed videos (through YouTube) on topics such as street food in cities around the world, watch a timelapse video of Venice from sunrise to sunset, or take a 3D tour of Versailles. You may never get a chance to visit the Amazon jungle firsthand, but you can see it here by following this tour via Google’s Street View feature.
Looking for a basic language overview for an upcoming trip? Byki offers a free language learning system for 74 different languages, including Japanese. For the free software, click on Byki Express and choose a language. Get a better grasp of the language by hearing how it is spoken by natives, and sharpen reading skills. The “List Central” feature allows users to download thousands of words and phrases for a broader vocabulary.
Language and culture blogs can also be accessed for free. Recent posts offered tips on basic Christmas and New Years terminology in various languages. The Danish blog featured a post on how to make a Danish Christmas star ornament.
An upgrade is available for those wanting to pay for additional resources, such as more extensive lessons and access to an online community for further interaction.
This site like the others offers the users a variety of free language lessons. Livemocha offers structured lessons for over twenty languages, but it also links you with other users all over the globe who are learning or are already fluent in the language you are learning!
Check out the blog for innovating ideas on how to enrich your language-learning experience. A recent post offered a tip on reading children’s books to sharpen skills in the language you are learning. Or learn more about cultural activities: Another recent blog featured a video from an Australian ballet performance.
Like other sites, Babbel has an option to pay for more extensive language programs. But this site also offers the user a variety of free language lessons and the option to chat with other users learning the same language! This interactive tool is a great way for the user to learn and put their new language into practice!
Check out the blog for fun features, like a recent post on Spanish slang (ever wonder how to say “I’m broke” in Spanish?).
As the name suggests, French Tutorial offers lessons in French, but it is also a mini-community where you can read about others who share experiences about visits to France (through the “I visited France” tab) or participate in a live chat. A variety of activities and PDF downloads and printables can be accessed for free (a deluxe option is available for a cost).
Learn to speak French, Spanish, German, or Italian through BBC Languages. There are a total of six 12-week courses offered through this program through a variety of multimedia resources. Audio recordings of dialogues and videos of people encountering language-related mishaps overseas makes this a fun and educational experience.
My Language Exchange
Learn a foreign language by practicing with a native speaker through My Language Exchange. Where does the “exchange” fit in? You’ll interact with someone who is trying to learn your language!
A massive variety of free language courses, activities, and printables are found through Word2Word. Learn Spanish or Italian or get really creative with Thai, Pali, Igboo, or Cree! So many choices! Another handy feature: Click on the Single Serving link for a quick lesson on basic phrases to learn before traveling to another country.