100 (Free) Ways To Learn to Speak Another Language

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This is a cross post from our content partners at OnlineCollege.org
Learning another language is among the many things that have been made easier with the explosion of the digital universe. While some of the resources aren’t incredible (simply using Google Translate), and some of the languages fairly obscure (Welsh), the list is impressive if for no other reason than to demonstrate how much is actually out there if you do a little digging.
  1. BBC Greek  This option from the BBC is the full package, with videos, games, exercises, and audio to make it all Greek to you.
  2. Espacios publicos  Very quickly into the 20 hours of introductory Spanish course material, you’ll discover this means “public spaces.”
  3. Beginners’ Chinese  Mandarin Chinese is presented here in more than six hours of material for people with absolutely no prior experience with the language.
  4. French 101  Fifteen introductory French video lessons from Carnegie Mellon University are at your disposal, and you can save your work if you create an account.
  5. Introduction to Portuguese  Start studying now and you’ll be ready for Carnival in February 2013.
  6. BBC German  With tabs for beginners, school German, vocab, and video tutorials, the BBC has you covered.
  7. Learn How to Speak Japanese  More than 40 instructional videos are bolstered by instruction in grammar, Japanese history, and the country’s culture.
  8. American Sign Language  With videos and a lengthy glossary complete with pictures and descriptions, Lifeprint.com gets a thumbs up for learning sign language.
  9. Getting Started on Classical Latin  In 10 hours you’ll learn how engrained Latin is in English and get a good grip on sentence structure and pronunciation.
  10. The Big Welsh Challenge  Can you learn Welsh? The BBC brings you all the tools you need with this free course.
  11. Elementary Russian  Learn Russian by watching the BBC series Goodbye Summer and working through the 70+ exercises.
  12. Farsi 1  This brief intro to Farsi, or Persian, comes courtesy of Wikiversity and a $0 price tag.
  13. Learn English Online  For non-native speakers, this is a great intro to the basics of an often-confusing language.
  14. BBC Italian  Converse with your local pizza shop owner after studying up on this beginner’s course.
  15. Learn How to Speak Russian  The ELanguageSchool delivers this set of grammar, vocab, and 18 video lessons for learning Russian.
  16. Kenyan Sign Language  This unique form of communication can be easily picked up, thanks to this free course by the Peace Corps.
  17. Chinese I  MIT’s much-copied OpenCourseWare is the home of this free course on introductory Chinese, which comes with online texts and multimedia content.
  18. Lernu  This is a great site for learning the universal language of Esperanto for free.
  19. Intermediate German  This free courseware from the Open University helps you practice your German by studying its culture and families.
  20. Conversa Brasileira  Intermediate-level students can watch 35 unscripted conversations between native Portuguese speakers here, with subtitles and pop-up audio commentary.
  21. Old Norse for Beginners  Learn how to talk like a Viking with this course, plus play rune puzzles and do exercises.

Video Channels

Just watch and learn.

  1. Cantocourse  Learn Cantonese through skits involving live cattle, public security officers, and “dating tips for plonkers.”
  2. OMGmeiyu  In these short videos, English idioms and slang are translated into Mandarin by a perky American host.
  3. Swahili Lessons  Get a short intro to this African language with this collection of videos.
  4. Let’s Speak Korean  And how shall we speak it? By watching these 60 video tutorials, of course.
  5. Latinum  The guy behind the informative podcast has made the switch to YouTube. Different channel but same great Latin help.
  6. Maori  The indigenous people of New Zealand speak Maori, and you can too with the help of this 13-part video series.
  7. Yabla French  This is an exceptional video-teaching website for French instruction, with captions in multiple languages, integrated dictionaries, and more, in both free and paid iterations.

Podcasts

If you’re an auditory learner, we have good news for you.

  1. English as a Second Language  This site makes ESL learning even easier by including learning guides with transcripts with every podcast.
  2. Arabic in Jordan  These lessons from the Peace Corps will teach you Arabic as it’s spoken in Jordan.
  3. Chinese Lessons  Instructor Serge Melnyk offers 30 audio lessons for beginner Mandarin for free, with the option to pay for more if you choose.
  4. GermanPod101  Create a free account and edge them toward 200 million free German lessons delivered.
  5. Learn Romanian Magazine  The archived podcasts on this site are a good resource for conquering the Romanian language.
  6. Beginners’ Chinese  The Open University brings you 46 audio lessons for building a knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
  7. Learn French by Podcast  This highly rated series will have you “Oui oui”-ing in no time.
  8. Radio Verda  Immerse yourself in the language of Esperanto with international news and talk on this podcast.
  9. Learn Italian  Get your word of the day, audio lessons, and video tutorials through this helpful podcast.
  10. Special Finnish  Translate the home page then jump right into the Finnish-speaking podcasts.
  11. DutchPod101  There are 28 videos to get you well into learning Dutch, and you can head to their website for more instruction after that.
  12. Learn Hindi  Start from the beginning with the Hindi alphabet via this podcast.
  13. Cody’s Cuentos  Nursery rhymes worked for teaching you English, now use them to learn basic Spanish with these audio files.
  14. Ta Falado  From the University of Texas comes this series of podcasts in Portuguese pronunciation and grammar.
  15. Hebrew Podcasts  Conversational Hebrew is taught with transcripts, translations, exercises, and more with this podcast.
  16. One Minute Catalan  Check out this podcast for free Catalan instruction. You can spare a minute, can’t you?
  17. Le Journal en Francais Facile  French news is presented in an accessible way for learners of a wide range of skill.
  18. ArabicPod  The best Arabic-learning podcast is a member of the “Pod” family and brings you 30 lessons free on iTunes.
  19. Russian Literature  Improve your Russian listening comprehension by downloading UCLA’s free podcasts of Russian writings.
  20. Bambara in Mali  The lingua franca in Mali, Bambara is yours to absorb with these podcasts from the Peace Corps.
  21. Japancast  Tokyo transplant Hitomi teaches you Japanese through anime and everyday conversation examples.

Textbooks

Finally, free textbooks. Take that, campus bookstore!

  1. Portuguese  There’s content for beginners and intermediate speakers, as well as the Portuguese spoken in both Brazil and Portugal.
  2. Scottish Gaelic  This Wikibook has Gaelic phrases, sentence structure, pronunciation help, and even a chapter on the sustainability of the language.
  3. Albanian  Learn “Shqip” with the help of this Albanian textbook.
  4. Polish  Lessons range from basic grammar to more advanced topics like declension and tenses.
  5. An Abbreviated Dictionary of Ch’orti’ Maya  Headed to Camotán, Chiquimula? Check out this book on the language of the area Mayans.
  6. Russian  Russian names and cursive are some of the cool bonuses for this language’s Wikibook.
  7. Irish  This books gets it done in three lessons, starting with history and ending with vocab.
  8. Textkit  You should be able to find what you need regarding Greek or Latin education with this site’s 180+ textbooks.
  9. Yiddish  There are two Wikibooks on Yiddish of varying states of completion, one on Yeshivah Bachurim and one on conversational Yiddish.
  10. French  The French Wikibook comes with add-ons like news stories, famous excerpts, and national anthems.
  11. German  This book is under development but can still serve as a handy guide to your German instruction.
  12. Abaza Grammar  Fewer than 50,000 people in the world speak this language of the Caucasus Mountain region, so you’ll be in an exclusive club if you learn it with the help of this book.
  13. Afrikaans  Work your way through the South African language with this free textbook.
  14. Belorusian  Join the 9 million or so people who speak Belorusian by reading up on the language with this textbook.
  15. Albanian Basic Course Vol. I  The scan could be better quality, but this is the first of 10 volumes for sinking your teeth into the language of Albania.
  16. Arabic  If you’re interested in this geopolitically important language, learn the pronouns, definite articles, descriptors, and more, here.

Translation

Use them as a supplement to your studies or just type a word in and memorize what comes out.

  1. Free-Translator  The text box has room for your Twitter character limit and then some for easy translation into scores of languages.
  2. Xanadu  This site’s made for traveling, with a currency converter and text translation accompanying the glossaries and reference materials for six different languages.
  3. Google Translate  It’s quick, clean, and efficient for translating dozens of languages to and from English.
  4. Freelang  Choose from 265 bilingual dictionaries and get your human translation here.
  5. Bing Translator  Formerly Babbel Fish, this is Microsoft’s text and web translator for the Google haters.

Communities

Harness the power in numbers by connecting with other language learners.

  1. Livemocha  Through this language site’s community you can have exercises reviewed by other users, practice your conversation, and more.
  2. italki  Have your questions answered, your writing corrected, and above all, communicate on this global language network.
  3. Lingopass  Jump into group discussions or start up a one-on-one in a chat room through this site.
  4. UniLang  “Uniting language lovers,” UniLang’s forums are a great place to practice that new tongue you’ve been learning.
  5. My Language Exchange  Join the community of more than 1 million users from more than 130 countries and practice a foreign language with a native speaker.
  6. Palabea  The Facebook of language networking, Palabea lets you upload video and audio, record, translate, and of course, dialogue.
  7. Skype Community Language Learning  The popular video-calling software has a section for users to ask and answer questions and make connections for conversations.
  8. The Mixxer  Similar to My Language Exchange, Mixxer is Dickinson College’s platform for language learners to be both teachers and students.
  9. My Happy Planet  Members can create their own lessons for others or just communicate with them directly on this learning community site.

Tools

These high-tech resources will streamline your language learning experience.

  1. Babbel  Take the old flash card method digital for learning 11 languages through Babbel, including Swedish and Turkish.
  2. Rikai  The entire web becomes a Japanese learning tool with this site’s URL filter.
  3. Byki  Available as a free download or paid upgrade, Byki is a solid bit of language-learning, flash card-based software.
  4. Lingro  Lingro is a slick tool that works like Rikai except it works with 12 languages, making any word on a web page clickable to see its definition.
  5. ProVoc  ProVoc ups the ante on flash card learning with features like variable difficulty and the ability to create your own cards.
  6. One World Dictionary  This program by Ascendo works on Macs to bring you 100,000 translations into Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Apps

Follow these links for the best language learning on the go.

  1. Learn Turkish with Babbel  This is the Turkish version of Babbel’s excellent learning software for smartphones, but all the languages the site offers are also available for mobile.
  2. Learn German with busuu  The popular language site created this free app for vocab words, learning units, and exams on Android phones.
  3. Ho-Chunk  Get acquainted with this unique Native American language through this iPad app.
  4. 50 Languages  Yep, you guessed it: the makers of this app want to help you learn 50 languages with this free app.
  5. Mindsnacks Learn French  Also available for several other languages, this app helps you learn Francais through fun gameplay.
  6. Hello-Hello Spanish  This highly-rated iPad app helps you practice Spanish pronunciation and vocab based on conversational lessons.
  7. TrainBrain  Practice words in German, Czech, and more languages to follow with this handy app.
  8. Cuebrain!  Quiz yourself on nearly two dozen languages with this gameplay-based Android app.
  9. myLanguage Free Translator  Nearly 60 languages are available for helping you navigate your way through a foreign land.
  10. Conjugate Spanish Verbs  Take the pain out of verb conjugation, with 17 coverage for 17 tenses.
  11. Vocre  Using speech recognition technology powered by Nuance, Vocre becomes your take-anywhere translator for enabling conversation.
  12. eTeacher Hebrew Lessons  Instructor Shira Cohen Regev guides you through the Hebrew alphabet and into basics like days of the week, counting, and beginning vocab.
  13. Hiragana Lite  This free version features basic Japanese Hiragana characters in simple flash card format.
  14. Learn English- PhotoFlashcards  This amazing app by language leaning company Voxy lets English learners photograph any item and receive an English definition for that item.
  15. Pronunciation Checker  Check your pronunciation against 6,000 words in five languages.