Although language lessons and private teachers remain the top way of seeing quick improvement in your language skills, free resources that are becoming available online, provide an excellent method of supplementing your learning. In our blog, we have previously covered which online resources you can (and should) use to improve your Arabic, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Spanish but there are also sites out there that can give you head start no matter what language you’re learning. And, better yet, all of them are completely free to use. Although, some might include a paid premium version.
So, here are the excellent online resources (almost) all language learners can use:
An Introduction to Everything
These sites will give you a short and somewhat entertaining introduction to a language you are considering learning but don’t go much deeper than that.
Live Lingua – This is claimed to be the biggest collection of free public domain materials for learning almost any language you can think of (there are 130 on the menu). While slightly overwhelming, the site does offer hours of fun picking through and learning obscure languages.
Omniglot – If you are simply a language lover interested in everything linguistic, this is the site to entertain you. You get a bunch of phrases, some video lessons, and glorious insight into the languages and cultures surrounding them.
Living Language – Although the language courses this site offers are paid, they also have a decent collection of free materials. These are mostly useful if you’re looking for a quick introduction to a language or interested in a few phrases for your next trip.
Digital Dialects – This site features free learning games for over 80 languages worldwide. Although not the most sophisticated, it does let you play around with a bunch of interesting languages and you will end up learning something in the process.
BBC Languages – They offer short introductions to over 40 languages which is great if you’re getting ready for a trip. Alternatively, you can take a closer look into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and Chinese for which the offer comprehensive free courses.
Once you’ve made the decision to stick with your target language and are looking for something a bit more advanced, give these sites a try.
Open Culture – What this site loses with only offering 48 languages, it makes up with in thoroughness. Still including all the major languages and a few more interesting ones, it lists several options on how to improve each one of them.
Lang-8 – When you’ve reached a certain level in your target language and want to start improving your writing, this an excellent community to join. You can write a text in your target language and have native speakers edit it, you repay the favour by doing the same in your language.
Yojik – Named after a famed Russian cartoon character (for some reason), this site pulls together the language exercises developed by the Foreign Service Institute, the Defense Language Institute, and the Peace-Corps. While the site itself does not look amazing, the number of free materials is mind boggling.
Online Language Exchange
If you would like to meet people face-to-face, check out the language meetups section of our blog. Otherwise, these sites help you get some online speaking practice.
Polyglot Club – As the name suggests, this is more of a club than a resource. The members organise meetings at their hometowns and offer each other help with their language learning. You can also sign up to have conversation practice with people.
Verbling – A great option because you don’t need to schedule anything. Whenever you want to chat to a native speaker, just log on and have a 5-minute chat. Naturally, you need to then help them out with your native tongue.
Italki – A community of language learners who help each other out with conversation practice. You do need to schedule meeting beforehand and professional teachers charge you for their time, but the language exchange part of the site is free to use.
Dictionaries and Translators
Google Translate – The best friend for not only language learners but everyone who has ever struggled to understand a foreign language paragraph. Although Google’s translation machine is much better for the bigger European languages, it will help you understand a short text most of the time.
WordReference – Definitely the best multilanguage dictionary out there, WordReference also has a useful forum aspect to it which can help explain slang and other non-conventional vocabulary not found in traditional dictionaries.
There you have it. These sites prove that you can make great progress in your target language without paying a dime.