10 Free Resources For Learning Nearly Any Language

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More resources for your tool box!     image credit

Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to learn another language you needed to either sign up for a course or fly to the country in which the language was spoken.  Resources were sparse and firmly in the hands of the teachers.  Access to books, to recordings, to courses, to anything that would be useful for an independent, self-directed e, were limited.

But times have changed!

Now there are vast oceans of resources for nearly every language on the face of the earth.  A quick Google search for any of the major languages will net hundreds if not thousands of pages of everything you could possibly imagine.   Limited as transformed to unlimited and a new problem has arisen – how do we sift through it all to find what is most effective?

Google’s algorithms combined with our tendencies to tell our friends on social media about the stuff we like have begun to solve this problem and allow the “cream to rise to the top” as my dad says.  But, there is still more out there than most of us can sort through.

And so today, I would like to share ten free resources that I have used or newly discovered that will help you learn nearly any language that you  wish to learn.  I don’t see any of these as a silver bullet or as capable in and of themselves in taking you to fluency in your target language.  I don’t really believe in silver bullets!  They can all be a part of building an overall personal language learning program that will lead to success.

Livemocha

Livemocha is one of the first free online learning platforms that I discovered and the one I recommend people sign up for in the Ten Week Journey.  It offers structure to a personal learning program with it’s lessons, the opportunity for interaction with native speakers with it’s community feel, and the freedom to learn on your own time and schedule.

[Visit Livemocha]

Duolingo

Duolingo is a fairly new learning platform.  I’ve begun using it to dive back into Spanish after feeling like just listening wasn’t doing enough to restart it.   The think I like about Duolingo is that it is multidimensional.  It throws the language at you in a lot of different ways which keeps it fresh.

[Visit Duolingo]

LingQ

LingQ is a reading based language learning program that is improving every year.  At LingQ, learners select a text, which includes audio, and then create “lingqs” for new words that come up in the reading.  LingQ is an excellent program and they have created a great video that will walk you into how exactly it works on their homepage.  Take a look at it!

[Visit LingQ]

Lang-8

Lang-8 is one of the programs that I used the most as I worked to learn Turkish.  Lang-8 allows you to submit your writing to be corrected by native speakers.  You in turn can correct the writing of those working to learn your language.  I created a word document that I kept on my desk top to collect my corrected writing samples.

[Visit Lang-8]

Rhinospike

Like Lang-8, Rhinospike is community driven.  You submit a text to be recorded by a native speaker of the language you are learning and in turn you create audio recordings for those trying to learn your language.  I used Rhinospike to get a number of journal entries recorded and to have also begun to have my free ebook Sustaining recorded in Spanish Spanish and French French.

[Visit Rhinospike]

Skype

If you have not yet signed up for a Skype account you should do so now.  It is an incredibly useful platform that allows you to call anyone in the world from your computer to theirs for free.  Calling phones is nearly free!  Skype is a great platform to create speaking opportunities in your target language.  Skype has gone a long way to help you find language partners as well, creating the Skype Language Learning board where you can find speakers of your target language with whom you can speak.

[Visit the Skype Language Learning Board]

Verbling

I first came across Verbling when I read Benny’s review at Fluent in 3 Months (read review here).  Verbling allows you to video chat with native speakers at the touch of a button.  Just sign up and get started.  You practice the language you wish to learn with someone, somewhere in the world who wants to learn your language.

[visit Verbling]

Digital Dialects

Digital Dialects is fun.  It isn’t super robust but is a basic collection of online games that will help any learner get started with basic vocabulary and phrases in the target language.

[Visit Digital Dialects]

Anki

I think flashcards can be an important part of helping move new vocabulary quickly into your long term memory.  Learning to use flashcards well is the topic of an article I wrote last year.  Anki is a computer based program that uses a spaced repetition system that makes flashcard review more efficient and effective than ever.  Read Rich’s article about Anki.

[Visit Anki]

Omniglot

I have tried to build a solid list of language specific resources for learners and continue to develop and grow the Language Specific Page here at EDLL.  But there is still a long way to go and many hundreds and hundreds of smaller languages remain under represented.  If you are searching for resources for smaller languages or hard to find languages, look no further than Omniglot’s A-Z index.  It is an amazing wealth of information and resources that remains unparalleled online.

[Visit Omniglot]

More Resources?

Are there more resources out there?  Are there better resources?

On both accounts I’d say there certainly are.  These are just a few of the free resources I’ve used or learned about that I think can be part of creating a robust language learning environment – anywhere!

What is your favorite FREE online resource for learning your target language?

 

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15 Responses to 10 Free Resources For Learning Nearly Any Language
  1. Jessica
    March 27, 2013 | 8:30 am

    Thanks for sharing, Aaron! Some of these are new to me and I’ll be sure to check them out. I particularly like Livemocha and Verblink – both were invaluable in helping me learn Spanish.

  2. Jared Romey
    March 27, 2013 | 4:16 pm

    I’d say italki is worth throwing on the list too. I’ve just started playing around with it, but it’s cool so far. There’s a paid portion, but enough free stuff to make it worthwhile.

    Jared

  3. Stavros
    March 27, 2013 | 9:46 pm

    I actively study Chinese and the newest kid on the block is FluentU Chinese. The site uses short videos and a learning mode for learners to grasp Chinese at any level. A powerful site which has yet to tap into its own potential for interactive and interesting learning content.

  4. Sarah M
    March 28, 2013 | 11:48 am

    Hello, I’m a new commenter here (found you via FIMBY) and I love this list. I was a French minor in college and am now wanting to teach my own young children (5 & 4) French, not only because I have the resources, and some memory :) , of the language but because we will be moving into Canada within the year, and it will be helpful. I think out of the list, my favorite for their ages is the Digital Dialects–I bookmarked that for later. Anything that is a game is easier for them to get into at this age. I’ve found a free French ‘puppet show’ that a lady does in the UK, and she shares a weekly, free, youtube video of her and the puppet interacting in French. My kids LOVE it. Of course this is for the very young audiences, but it’s so easy to understand the skit for even the youngest of kids, because it’s very engaging. Her website is: http://thelanguagetortoise.com/

    Sarah M

    • aarongmyers
      March 29, 2013 | 10:27 am

      Thanks for stopping by Sarah and for leaving me that great link. I’ll add it to the French resource page. I am excited for you and your kids and the journey they will embark on to master French.

  5. [...] my recent post, 10 Free Resources for Learning Nearly Any Language, I got a lot of great feedback on other resources not on that list.  None was mentioned more than [...]

  6. Zach
    April 30, 2013 | 1:27 pm

    Thanks for this! Didn’t know about live mocha. You missed some really valuable ones though. Such as LWT (Learning with Texts) and Memrise. I made a list of some more at http://languageholic.com/resources if you want to add any of them to this.

  7. Brian
    May 14, 2013 | 10:13 am

    My favorite site for learning English is : http://englishspeakingcourses.com/
    You can learn many free lessons on this website.
    Hope it helps !

  8. Ketutar
    May 15, 2013 | 6:19 am

    Learning With Texts is one of my favorite places to go, too :-D
    http://www.fluentin3months.com/wp-login.php?redirect_to=./lwt/

    I also appreciate Tatoeba
    http://tatoeba.org/eng/home

    I also used a lot of Wiktionary when studying French.
    http://www.wiktionary.org/

    Then there’s the new Readlang
    http://readlang.com/
    I haven’t had time to familiarize myself with it yet (6 weeks’ challenge in Maltese, and Maltese isn’t supported there yet :-D I’m planning on using it to learn Arabic to support my Maltese :-D ) But it looks interesting.

    Also MyMemory has been very helpful, as it gives sample sentences where a word is used.
    http://mymemory.translated.net/

    I also used Verbix quite a lot when studying French http://www.verbix.com/
    and Maltse Verb Roots and Patterns Database is open all the time I’m studying Maltese :-D
    http://mlrs.research.um.edu.mt/resources/verbalroots/

    • aarongmyers
      May 15, 2013 | 10:46 am

      Thanks so much for the great links. I’ll be sure and share some of them. Especially excited about Read Lang. Very cool.

  9. Brian
    May 18, 2013 | 11:53 am

    Took a look at digital dialects. I’m learning Farsi and it appears that they only provide the language in Roman lettering, not in Persian script.

    It’s important, I think, to learn the language as is, which is to say, I want to learn what the words look like in the native script. I don’t understand why they would provide it otherwise.

    • Reza
      July 28, 2013 | 11:47 am

      I completely agree with you Brian. Farsi language should be learned in the native script.
      Some teachers and websites use the language in Roman lettering, not in Persian script. And it’s not effective and delay the process of learning the language.

      I have taught Farsi for several years and have used many different resources and methods. Finally, I’ve come to conclusion that using the method called TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling)is the best method to learn a new language. This method connects the language to culture, politics, social activities, etc.
      Learning the Persian script is also beneficial to learn more about the literature and poetry, which are the strong motivations for learning Farsi.

      If you have any questions about using the best methods and resources for learning Farsi fast, please don’t hesitate to ask: nazari.reza79@gmail.com

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