If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just recently decided to throw caution to the wind and learn a foreign language, traumatic high school Spanish finals be damned.
Or maybe you’re in the midst of learning a new language online, and your mission has been a fruitless journey of online translators and trying to navigate your Facebook timeline in Yiddish. Oy vey.
Either way, congratulations! You’ve just stumbled upon the most epic list of online language courses.
You no longer need to slam your face QWERTY-style out of frustration, begging the polyglot gods to give you some kind of direction for your linguistic quest. These courses will give you a roadmap to language learning success.
If you’re wondering what distinguishes an online course from the plethora of other resources online, it’s that a course contains lessons, modules or quizzes—some kind of structure that newbies (and language learning vets!) need to help them weave other language learning tools into context.
There are many other types of language courses online that consist of everything from games and quizzes to one-on-one tutoring sessions.
With these many options to choose from, how do you even know where to begin?
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of 2022’s best web-based courses that serve different language-learning needs. Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or need a course that satiates your podcast addiction, there’s something that fits your style below.
The 36 Best Online Language Courses in 2022 for Any Budget or Level
Price: Starting at $6.95/mo
Best for: Absolute beginners
Babbel is perfect for language learners who want to learn Spanish, Norwegian or 11 other languages. You can get a fun, game-like structure that’s accessible on your smartphone, and access to a learners’ community that can help make your adventure a little more social.
Although you can access the first lesson in each language, you’ll need a subscription in order to unlock more lessons. Babbel offers two distinct plans. The app subscription gives you access to all the lessons. The “Babbel live” subscription has the extra bonus of letting you attend virtual live classes taught by language teachers.
Read our review of Babbel here.
Price: Free trial
Best for: Immersive learning
FluentU’s unique platform focuses on language immersion, which is something language learners of all levels need.
Did you ever want to sing along to “Let It Go” in German, or watch a crash course in world geography in Japanese? You can, with FluentU!
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
Price: Free basic plan, Premium plan starting at $7.99/mo
Best for: Intermediate learners
LingQ is a web-based language-learning system founded by YouTube polyglot sensation, Steve Kaufmann. It has a community aspect to the interface that rewards you for helping your peers. The program also has a massive database of lessons, composed of text documents accompanied by audio.
With a Premium plan and points on this site, you’ll have access to their apps, vocabulary features, one-on-one English conversations, group conversations, writing corrections and a huge variety of learning activities and quizzes. LingQ offers lessons in 37 languages, including the more popular languages like Spanish and Chinese, and some less popular options like Hebrew and Czech.
Best for: Casual learning
Duolingo is perhaps one of the more well-known options on this list. Designed more like a game than a course, Duolingo is a fun way to squeeze in language learning on your lunch breaks or whenever you’d otherwise be playing “Candy Crush.” Duolingo focuses on making language learning intuitive.
Did we mention you can connect with friends and family through Facebook on Duolingo for some social incentive to your learning? This feature allows you to see who can maintain a streak longer, who can progress through a lesson quicker and other fun ways to keep each other motivated. You’re forewarned—things can get strangely competitive with distant cousins and passive-aggressive co-workers.
Duolingo teaches 38 languages, including some that you likely wouldn’t find in any of the other apps on this list, like Navajo and High Valerian.
Read our review of Duolingo here.
Price: Free basic plan, Premium plan starting at $6.56
Best for: Social learning
With a dozen languages available for study, Busuu—named for an endangered language in Cameroon—is a lively platform for language learners.
Busuu integrates a great deal of social interaction into its program. Make and accept friend requests to connect with other language learners, and take turns correcting each other’s reading and speaking exercises.
Premium users can gauge their progress with placement tests from McGraw-Hill Education. These correspond to the mastery levels in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Read our review of Busuu here.
Price: Free basic access, Premium plan starting at $4/mo
Best for: Vocabulary practice
Gamified app Mondly introduces basic vocabulary through simple photos. In various exercises, you’ll swipe, drag-and-drop and use word banks to do simple translations. There are also grammar tips and conversation practice. Conversations are presented as text messages.
Mondly lets you take a few trial lessons for free, although your access will be limited. Once you sign up for a Premium plan, you can take the lessons in sequence, or skip around to different topics. Depending on the plan you pick, you can learn a single language, or have access to all the available languages.
One of the advantages to Mondly is that you can potentially study a couple of languages—including harder-to-find languages such as Bengali, Magyar or Catalan. You can also choose to learn through one of many languages. So, for example, you could learn Italian through Hebrew, French through English or Bulgarian through Vietnamese.
Read our review of Mondly here.
Price: Subscription plans starting at $8/mo
Best for: Podcast-based learning
The Pod Series is a network of websites with names like Spanishpod101.com, etc. You’ll find programs for the following languages:
They have free and paid subscription models with tons of material available, ranging from different types of lessons (generally revolving around themes), podcasts and a fun flashcard feature that uses vocabulary words from the media present on their sites. Despite the “pod” in the name, many of the resources on the site are visual, and many are accompanied by a lesson, some grammar points, transcripts, flashcards and more.
The program now also offers a Plus subscription, which gives you access to a teacher and weekly assignments, though it’s uncertain whether this is manned by a real person—we mention the issue in our review of JapanesePod101, if you’d like to learn more.
8. Mango Languages
Price: Starting at $6.67/mo
Best for: Learning essential phrases
Mango Languages is known for its game-like design and its ability to have you speaking phrases within a few weeks. It’s much like Babbel and Duolingo, but it offers a few fun extras. Chief among these, the program incorporates augmented reality into its teaching, literally bringing your learning experience to life in your living room.
It also includes cultural information about the language you’re learning and can be applied on a larger scale for organizations and classrooms (if that’s what you’re looking for). Finally, it incorporates a special review system that tracks your progress and gives you a more personalized training regimen.
The monthly subscription includes access to more than 70 language courses.
Read our review of Mango Languages here.
Price: Free basic plan, Pro plan starting at $7.50/mo
Best for: Vocabulary retention practice
Memrise may not be a course in the traditional sense—it started as a collection of user-generated courses in dozens of languages (including sign languages). Recent updates to the program have turned it into a thorough exploration of languages using vocab learning games, authentic videos and guided lessons. It’s not a robust learning program that’s worth a look if you’re interested in professional-grade, visual learning.
At its core, though, Memrise still uses its original idea: Based on the spaced repetition technique, Memrise functions best as a resource for vocabulary retention. It provides users with flashcards that are enhanced by fellow learners with images, wordplay to make the terms more memorable, and a variety of memory games and fun visuals to encourage you to keep on pushing!
You can even create your own course to help you remember those specific terms that trip you up.
Memrise currently offers 22 languages.
Still torn on whether Memrise is the right app for you? We examined Memrise and Duolingo to see how these two popular programs track up against each other.
10. Rosetta Stone
Price: Starting at $11.99/mo
Best for: Long-term learning
You may still have Rosetta Stone stuck in your mind as that yellow box in the airport, but it’s come a long way in recent years to integrate online language learning.
Rosetta Stone includes online classes, games and mobile apps, hopping on board with a lot of recent language-learning trends. This resource is recommended for long-term learners rather than quick phrase-building. It’s available for many languages, including:
The program promises to immerse the learner into the language, featuring a well-rounded course that tackles all aspects of a language, including grammar, vocabulary, listening skills through audio, reading skills through stories and more.
Unlike many other programs out there, Rosetta Stone even promises to get you speaking from the first lesson—and speaking correctly, at that. The app’s “TruAccent” feature records your speech and compares it to the correct intonation and pitch, helping you fine-tune your speaking skills.
11. Fluent in 3 Months
Best for: Language-learning strategies
This is polyglot super-star Benny Lewis’s brainchild. As someone who’s learned seven languages and has been traveling the globe for over a decade, he has tons of tricks and resources to help you hack your way through language learning.
Benny’s course tries to solve one of the biggest issues learners have when they start out: They learn the language, but they don’t learn how to use it. The Fluent in 3 Months program embraces the social nature of languages and promises to get you speaking comfortably and naturally from the very beginning.
A premium subscription to his site works best for those who want to learn how to become lifelong language learners rather than learn a specific language. This program won’t teach you a specific language, but it’ll teach you how to learn any language, which is valuable information that you can carry on to any future learning endeavor.
Read our review of Fluent in 3 Months here.
12. Rocket Languages
Price: Starting at $149.95
Best for: Beginner conversation practice
Rocket Languages has a number of different account types that may appeal to you depending on your budget. It’s known for its incredibly vast amount of downloadable content. It’s also very well-structured, which is great for those of us who have no clue how or where to begin!
The program uses voice recognition software to make sure you’re pronouncing things right (similarly to Rosetta Stone), teaches thousands of practical words and phrases, provides insight into culture and more.
You’ll be able to take courses for the following languages:
Read our review of Rocket Languages here.
13. Living Language
Price: Starting at $25/mo
Best for: Comprehensive e-learning
Known for its thorough fusion of online learning, mobile apps and web conference-style e-tutoring sessions, Living Language is well worth its access fee. Although the e-tutoring feature has been discontinued, the program still provides a high level of instruction. Lessons consist of many key points about grammar, vocabulary, culture and more, accompanied by native-led audio, flashcards and games.
Living Language lets you pick the right type of course for you, depending on your goals. Planning to travel? Want to conduct language in a different language? There’s a course for that!
Price: Starting at €49,90 (roughly $61)
Best for: Text-based learning
A French company, Assimil has created many comprehensive foreign language products. It currently offers resources for many languages, but not all of them have a full course available.
The company has its own learning method, referred to as the “Assimil Method.” It follows a two-stage process—the first “impregnation phase” lets learners soak up the language and mentally ingrain the content, while the second “activation phase” encourages learners to formulate sentences and information on their own.
Assimil’s learning products include a full e-course, audio CDs and downloadable or printed textbooks.
Price: Starting at $19.95/mo
Best for: Audio-based learning
Pimsleur also uses its own special learning method based on the work of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, an accredited academic. The method focuses on the significance of proper retention and internalization. Thus, Pimsleur lessons are both comprehensive and easily digestible and serve their purpose best when you study on a near-daily basis.
Pimsleur’s 30-minute lessons are very accessible and portable, and you can get your learning done anywhere once you download the app.
However, because the lessons are audio-based and target speaking and listening skills, you may want to look for a text-based source to get more reading and writing practice.
16. Transparent Language
Price: Starting at $24.95/mo
Best for: Language variety
Whatever language you’re interested in learning, Transparent Language is highly likely to have something for it. It offers teaching material for an impressive roster of over 100 languages.
Although you can learn on the website, the app version is the more favored format. Lessons are short (roughly 10 to 15 minutes each) but challenging enough to keep you on your toes. There’s no strict course structure—although the program may recommend certain lessons to you based on your level, you can customize your learning and focus on the skills you’re interested in.
Transparent Language is another program that offers a nifty speech analysis function that lets you practice your speaking. Your voice is analyzed and any problem spots are visualized on a sound wave graph.
Best for: Extra review
MyLanguages.org has lessons in 95 languages, all for free! Here you can learn vocab, grammar and quick phrases, and even quiz yourself on your knowledge. The main draw of this program is the illustrated word lists—though unfortunately, ever since Flash was discontinued, the audio feature is missing from many pages.
The courses on this site are mostly written (though they do collect some audio and video material), making them perfect for intermediate learners who need to review and refine their grammatical skills. Pair the website with an audio dictionary like Forvo to make up for the missing audio and boost your learning.
Best for: Quick language research
Omniglot has mini-lessons on over 600 languages, detailing some of the histories and origins of archaic scripts like Ladino or Old Norse. It’s a great resource for anyone learning lesser-known languages like Xhosa, Igbo and Ojibwe.
In addition to an overview of the writing system and some cultural information about each language, Omniglot provides links to further information about every language and how to learn it, as well as YouTube videos showcasing the language.
Omniglot also has its own Facebook group where language-lovers share interesting tidbits about linguistics in a fun and approachable way. The multilingual nature of the group means that you can find help with many different languages among the nearly 30 thousand members.
19. Foreign Services Institute
Best for: Short clip-based lessons
Some awesome individuals have created an online collection of public domain language courses from the United States’ Foreign Service Institute. You’ll find that most of these courses are broken up into audio clips that revolve around short conversations, so it’s best for those who are looking for some on-the-go material that challenges their listening skills.
Keep in mind that many of these recordings are old (the website refers to cassette sides!) so some language may be outdated. It can also be dry, since these are government courses.
Despite these caveats, these recordings can be excellent resources for learners who want a no-frills approach to language learning.
Read our review of Foreign Services Institute here.
20. Headstart2 from Defense Language Institute
Best for: Self-study language introduction
Designed for military personnel before deployment, Headstart2 is another good resource for no-nonsense learners. Every language has two units made up of 10 modules each, which you can access online. It’s worth noting that the second unit focuses on “mission-specific tasks,” which might not be very practical in everyday life, but could be great for those who want to watch war films in their target language.
The languages available are extremely varied and include Swahili, Kyrgyz, regional varieties of Arabic and many more.
21. Live Lingua Project
Best for: Basic language foundation
The Live Lingua Project has made language courses from Peace Corps training freely available to all who visit their website. You don’t even need an account to access these free resources.
There are lots of hard-to-find languages, such as Anufo (spoken in Togo) and Q´eqchi (spoken in Guatemala). You can also find regional variations on more well-known languages—such as 11 different varieties of Arabic, three varieties of Russian and four different styles of French.
Many of the courses feature audio clips to help you learn pronunciation. While the materials aren’t brand-new, they will give you a thorough foundation in the languages you choose to study.
22. Internet Polyglot
Best for: Multilingual learning
An indispensable resource for language learners, Internet Polyglot also contains a feature that most other online courses don’t: the ability to translate lessons to and from any language they have available. Do you want to learn French through Spanish? No problemo, mon ami.
Thanks to this, there’s a huge selection of courses to choose from. The content mostly features vocabulary with audio, and unfortunately, the game buttons no longer seem to work. However, you can find usage examples for many of the words, so this website can serve as an excellent themed word builder. You can even use it to learn words in two languages at once, if you’re feeling ambitious!
Best for: Language-learning activities
LearnaLanguage.com is another website filled with free language courses, but with a twist: Some of the lessons are delightfully weird. Learning Spanish? Why not play around with the “Burrito Builder,” or brush up on your Japanese love phrases?
The website serves as a fun and easy way to get a first glance at certain languages. Best of all, it’s dedicated to offering free content so you can learn key words, phrases and more in 19 languages.
Best for: Language-learning resources
Word2Word is a massive online database of free courses in over 100 languages. It also points you in the direction of language learning forums and more general polyglot guides and resources.
Most importantly, Word2Word contains links to tools and resources from all over the web in less common languages like Frisian and Malay.
Price: Starting at $5/hour
Best for: Social learning
Want to mix your target language and social media? italki is the Facebook of language learning. Explained as a language teaching marketplace by co-founder Kevin Chen, this incredible 2.0 website has a massive listing of language tutors from all over the world.
There are plenty of free services, like the ability to get written corrections and to connect with users who may want to engage in a free language exchange via Skype or another service. There’s no set pedagogical standard for italki, but you can find the teacher, learning style and lessons that work for you and your wallet.
Read our review of italki here.
Price: Starting at $59/mo (for four hours of lessons)
Best for: One-on-one lessons
If you’re looking for comfortable private lessons, while also having an idea of what level of proficiency you’d like to reach, try out Rype.
Rype is a language tutor service that works around your needs. When signing up, you provide details on how much time you have for learning, and Rype can give you a reliable estimate of what you can achieve within that time frame. You can then book your own native-speaking teacher, who will create a custom lesson plan just for you.
Lessons are held over Skype and each lasts roughly 30 minutes. There’s no real limit to how many lessons you can book, and you can pause or continue your learning whenever you’d like.
27. Language Trainers Online
Price: Starting at $8
Best for: Customized learning
This is the right option for you if you like having a tutor but also want to be able to review your lesson later, because all courses are recorded. These courses are customized to the student, and their instructors are known to be highly qualified professionals. As an added bonus, you can get a certificate of completion when you get through your learning, which you can use on your resume.
There are many languages to choose from and you can take a level test in some of the languages before you sign up for a lesson.
Best for: Language exchange
Do you ever get bored or lonely trying to learn a lesson by yourself? This website is a great option for you social butterflies out there. On this site, you complete lessons with language learning buddies from all over the world. Did we mention there are over a million members who speak upwards of 115 languages?
Find someone who speaks your target language and is learning your native language, and help each other learn!
Price: Starting at about $20/lesson
Best for: Private language lessons
Do you need a teacher to help you through your lessons? Verbalplanet.net has a large staff of native tutors to help you through the trials of learning a language online.
After every lesson, your teacher will provide you with feedback and let you know how you’re doing in the core language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) using the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). This means you can track your progress over time and easily pinpoint trouble areas to work on.
30. Niuolahiki Online Hawaiian Language Courses
Price: Starting at $30 per chapter/class
Best for: Learning Hawaiian languages
Did you ever think you could learn the Hawaiian language online? Now you can, with this resource! The courses on this website are designed for self-learning and can be paired with an optional textbook.
Once you have your basics down, you can sign up for the conversation class, which is offered virtually three times a year and provides a safe and comfortable place to practice your new language skills with fellow learners
31. MIT OpenCourseWare
Best for: Lecture-style learning
Would you like an MIT education? Wouldn’t we all? Thanks to MIT OpenCourseWare, you can download the syllabus and course material in the language class of your choice.
Interested in a literature or culture class? No prob. Check out Scott Young’s TedX talk about giving himself an MIT education through this program.
32. Oregon State eCampus
Price: $331 per credit
Best for: Accredited language learning
Looking for college credit? Oregon State has a very well-known and accredited online campus that’s worth looking into. If you want to travel around while earning class credit, this is the virtual campus you’ve been looking for.
Currently, seven language programs are on offer, though you can also minor in French, German or Spanish. No pants? No problem.
33. Open Culture
Best for: Culture studies
The self-proclaimed source of the “best free cultural & educational media on the web,” Open Culture is an awesome website that collects free courses and resources for its users. Equipped with an engaging blog and links to over 1000 free courses, this resource is perfect for the culture nerd in all of us.
It’s not exclusively dedicated to language courses, but you can still find resources in over 48 languages.
Best for: Classroom-style learning
If you prefer a more traditional classroom experience, consider edX.
With curriculum from universities around the world—including Boston University, the University System of Maryland, Harvard, Peking University and the University of Oxford—edX gives learners at all levels free access to top-notch language courses.
In addition to the languages you might expect, such as French, German, English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian, you’ll find more unusual topics such as Noongar (an indigenous language from Western Australia) and Tibetan.
Some of the language courses are very specific to particular goals, such as English or Mandarin Chinese for business.
At a paid level, EdX has professional certificates and the XSeries (for deep dives into a language).
Best for: Self-learning
Do you need to learn a language for work or business? Do you like a self-paced, straightforward approach with no gamification or frills? Give Alison a try.
Alison uses a “freemium” model: Access to the self-paced video lessons, with ads, is free—and you can take as many different courses as you’d like. Stick with a single language or learn several from among these available choices: Japanese, German, Spanish, French, Chinese, Irish, Arabic, Engish or Swedish.
When you finish a language course, you have the option of purchasing a diploma or certificate as evidence of your achievement.
For a modest monthly fee, you can remove the advertisements that support the free program. You’ll also get a substantial discount on any certifications you purchase.
36. World Wide Learn
World Wide Learn is another comprehensive list of accredited language courses online. There are courses in 18 different languages, as well as in translation, ESL and TESL. There’s also a “live chat” feature if you need help figuring out which course is best for you.
World Wide Learn is especially good for those who want to travel as they go to school, or have busy work schedules that don’t allow them to attend brick-and-mortar campuses.
Update: This program no longer offers online courses or lessons, but it’s still a good resource if you’re interested in learning about different degrees and even finding a local school that teaches the language you’re interested in learning.
So there you have it, the online language course list to end all lists. It may come as no surprise that native material (video, podcasts, books, etc. in your target language) can far surpass any course when used effectively.
But several of us benefit more when we balance or supplement those authentic materials with a course, so now you know where to look. Choose a course (or several) that appeals to you, and get started today!
Carlo Aaron is a writer, artist and language-learning enthusiast who lives on the internet. She’s been featured on xoJane, Skirt Collective and Feministing. Follow her on Twitter.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.