Parlez vous francais? Habla Español? Parla Italiano?
Want to learn a foreign language? If so, don’t spend your money on pricey classes, tutors, and computer programs. You’re going to want to save that money for a trip abroad after you learn a new language using free online tools! Here’s your guide to some of the best free language learning tools available on the Web:
Best for: Post-beginner French, beginner Italian, beginner Spanish
BBC Languages offers the following free 12-week online courses: La Mapa Misteriosa (beginner Italian), Ma France (post-beginner French), and Mi Vida Loca (beginner Spanish). These courses all use interactive video dramas and are designed to be completed in 12 weeks, after which you will take an “end of course” assessment to see how well you’ve done. You’ll even get a BBC certificate upon completion of the course! This site also has free step-by-step learning videos and audio tools, visual resources, self-tests, and weekly emails with tips for the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and more!
MIT OpenCourse Ware
Best for: University-level course materials for worldwide languages; Chinese and Japanese
Many M.I.T. foreign language and literature courses are available online for non-students free of charge at MIT OpenCourse Ware. Many courses, which are offered in a variety of worldwide languages and difficulty levels, have multimedia content, online course materials, online textbooks, and weekly lessons. Some courses even have online study groups where you can connect with other students in your virtual class. This site is a great resource for home-schooled students and those who wish to learn a new language in an academic setting.
Open Learn LabSpace
Best For: French, German, Spanish
Open Learn LabSpace offers a variety of foreign language courses that utilize both audio and video teaching tools. Not only do these courses teach language skills but also they teach relevant social and cultural knowledge of the country whose language you are studying.
Foreign Language Podcasts (General)
Best for: Audio-based learning
There are thousands of free foreign language learning podcasts (in mp3 format) available on media directories such as Open Culture and Podcast Alley. On Open Culture, click on the “Free Language Lessons” link in the right column on your screen. On Podcast Alley, you can find foreign language learning podcasts by entering the phrase “learn” plus the the name of the language you want to learn (i.e. “learn French”) in the designated search box on the left side of your screen.
Foreign Language Podcasts (Spanish)
Best for: Audio-based Spanish learning
Audiria offers free daily podcasts for learning Spanish organized by difficulty level and searchable by category (beginners, grammar, culture, idioms, etc.). A great thing about Audiria podcasts is that each podcast includes a text file so that new learners can test their reading skills and ensure accurate listening comprehension. If you want to track your learning progress on the site, register for a free account to see your learning statistics compiled from the results of exercises and activities that you’ve completed. Also check out: SpanishPod101, Notes in Spanish, and Voices en Español.
Best for: 35 different languages offered
LiveMocha is the world’s largest online language learning community. The site combines social media and both free and (paid) premium online courses that include interactive lessons as well as speaking, reading, and listening exercises for 35 different languages.
Best for: Interacting with native speakers on Skype
One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to interact with native speakers. On KanTalk you can record yourself speaking a foreign language and then upload the audio file to the site where other members will then critique your language skills and pronunciation. You can also find members on the site to practice speaking a foreign language with via Skype. The site provides “ice breakers” for such Skype conversations in the form of topics of the day.