Even if you’re living on a tight budget, juggling work, school and family, or feel like you don’t have another second to spare in your day, learning a foreign language isn’t out of reach.
In this post, I’ll show you six stellar e-learning language courses that are totally free.
Pick one that matches your learning style and your schedule, and all that’s left to do is get learning!
- BBC Languages
- Effective Language Learning
- Open Culture
- The Case for E-learning Language Courses
The BBC website offers language learning courses in 40 languages! There are quick-fix lessons to teach travelers essential words and phrases alongside full-service courses for languages like French, Spanish, German, Greek and Chinese.
Lessons and resources include language learning tailored just for kids and crosswords for visual learners who prefer to work outside the box. Pair vocabulary and grammar practice with a selection of news, TV and radio links for immersion practice and cultural study.
The BBC page is archived and no longer updated, but it’s still a fantastic free resource that can stand alone or act as a supplement to other courses.
Effective Language Learning
This website offers free lessons in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish! It’s packed with great resources to help you decide which language to choose and the best methods for learning it.
Get started with the Language Guide, which explores the background of each language, ranks how difficult they are to learn and compares how closely related they are to English regarding linguistics and culture.
Click on Language Learning Tips and read through 17 great ways to get the most out of online lessons. You’ll increase your odds for success with this resource’s helpful study ideas, such as: practice thinking in the other language, experience immersion using pop culture, break your lessons into small chunks and cut yourself some slack on mistakes.
If you’re curious about the quality of paid e-learning language options, visit the Language Course Reviews page for a side-by-side comparison of major software programs currently on the market. It’s a useful reference, but don’t forget about the abundance of free resources available online!
Here you’ll find vocabulary lessons in more than 25 languages, complete with audio recordings to help you learn pronunciation. Listening to audio files is an important part of absorbing new words and learning to use them correctly.
The vocabulary lessons are perfect for both audio and visual learners because they incorporate images with each audio file. Some of the exercises are already set to an advanced level by default, but you can adjust the difficulty level in your settings (click the gear in the upper right-hand corner).
When it comes time to test your knowledge, be sure to use both the speaking and listening challenges!
The English and French courses also offer grammar instruction and reading selections alongside the vocabulary lists. Overall, this website is a great supplemental resource for drilling vocabulary and pronunciation alongside e-learning courses that cover grammar and immersion.
If you’re looking for lesser studied languages, like Yiddish, Urdu or Welsh, look no further! MyLanguages.org is an excellent free resource for almost any language you can imagine, from the obscure to the widely-spoken.
The website is user-friendly and very easy to navigate. Scroll through the left sidebar for links to specific pages, such as phrases, vocabulary and the “radio lab,” which provides links to radio stations in different languages.
You’ll also find unique, handy resources like virtual keyboards for foreign languages and a transliteration generator to see phonetics for a given text in your target language. Use the dictionary, exercises and downloadable audio clips to get the most out of your learning experience.
This educational collection brings together lessons in 48 different languages through a variety of websites, YouTube channels, iTunes audio downloads and apps. No matter what your learning style may be, you’ll find a match for it here.
Some languages are better represented than others, but each category lists a variety of options and platforms, allowing you to match lesson formats with your preferred study method. The courses are arranged alphabetically by language, which makes getting started a snap.
This site also provides free cultural materials, including book and textbook downloads, movies, lectures, art, images and music. These useful supplementary materials will help you learn about the culture and history of the language you’re speaking!
This site is excellent for certain hard-to-find languages and unique resources, bringing together cartoons in Hebrew and Arabic alphabet practices with complete e-courses in French, Russian, German and Italian, among much more. There’s even a Latin course available if you’re into dead languages!
Each category features links to lessons for beginners starting at square one, covering everything from alphabet and grammar to vocabulary and culture. Several of the languages offer students more advanced lessons and resources tailored for audio and visual learners.
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, there’s a link to the Peace Corps Language Courses Archive at the bottom of the page, which leads you to another excellent resource for less common languages.
The Case for E-learning Language Courses
Aside from the fact that these courses are free and available to everyone, there are several significant advantages to learning a language online:
- Mobility: The greatest advantage of the internet is that you can access and use it whenever and wherever you please, on any device you choose. When it comes to learning a language online, you can practice anywhere at any time.
Review vocabulary on your commute, study grammar while you’re waiting in line or listen to podcasts while you’re cooking dinner!
- Convenience: E-learning courses allow you to work at your own pace, whether you only have a whole vacation dedicated to language learning or just a few minutes to spare right before bed. The flexibility of online learning means you won’t feel any pressure because you aren’t holding anyone up if life gets hectic and you can’t study for a few days. The bite-sized nature of these courses also allows you to complete lessons in a short amount of time.
These types of courses are especially convenient for solo students because you can revisit the material as needed. If you’re struggling with certain verbs or vocabulary, you can study them as much as you need to, without exam deadlines or the danger of a failing grade.
- Customization: Online language learning courses offer tools tailored to all different learning styles! These courses present more opportunities than a strict classroom environment, boosting your odds for successfully becoming fluent.
If you’re a visual learner, there are flashcards to help you drill vocabulary. If you’re an auditory learner, you can explore movies and podcasts for whatever language you’re studying. Kinetic learners can print off worksheets or play games to help them learn. If you enjoy reading, there are plenty of places to download foreign language e-books.
The possibilities are endless, and you should be able to find a course that suits you perfectly!
So, what are you waiting for? That elusive “right time” or “right moment”?
That time is right now! Don’t wait any longer.
Learn a language for free, on your schedule, on any device, anywhere, at any time! It only takes a little attention each day. Make the most of your commute, drill vocabulary during commercials or swap fifteen minutes of social media for study time.
It’s worth the effort! Fluency in a second language boosts your competitive edge in a saturated job market. Bilingualism also teaches the brain to think in new and different ways. It improves memory, concentration, cognitive performance and helps develop various aspects of our social skills, such as empathy and effective communication.
There’s an abundance of wonderful e-learning language courses for every skill level and learning style. These courses are practical, convenient, portable and customizable. And don’t forget free!
Tiffany Edgecomb is a freelance copywriter and owner of The Alphabet Soup Company. She specializes in creating blogs, newsletters and email sequences for lifestyle topics like cooking, language, real estate, travel and personal finance.