Top 60 Free Language Learning Websites and Apps in 2023
A tight budget is no longer an excuse to not learn a language.
Websites and smartphone apps have brought the world closer to us—and its thousands of languages.
The benefits of learning a new language no longer have to come with a hefty price tag—or any price tag at all!
Whether you prefer flashcards or face-to-face interaction, want to learn Amharic or Zulu, are a novice or near-native, here are 60 free language learning websites you can use to fine-tune your language skills without spending a cent.
- Free Websites for Language Courses
- Video-based Language Learning Websites
- Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
- Free Language Exchange Websites
- Language Learning Websites for Reading Skills
- Language Learning Websites for Writing Skills
- Free Websites for Vocabulary and Flashcards
- Free French Resources
- Free German Resources
- Free Spanish Resources
- Free Chinese Resources
- Free Japanese Resources
- Free Arabic Resources
- Free Portuguese Resources
- How to Get the Most Out of Learning a Language Through a Website
- 3 Benefits of Learning with Free Language Learning Websites
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Free Websites for Language Courses
When most of us think about taking a language course, we picture a classroom full of wobbly desks and chalkboard dust, plus a three- or four-digit tuition fee.
Check out these free online language courses to keep the structure and formality of a traditional course but skip the fees.
1. Live Lingua
According to the site, Live Lingua is the internet’s largest collection of free public domain language learning materials.
It’s not hard to believe. There are thousands of free e-books, audio recordings and foreign language video materials available in over 130 different languages.
It’s also one of the most user-friendly websites hosting the US Foreign Service Institute’s public domain language courses, which were developed by the US Department of State for expert language learning and are now freely available on various sites across the web.
Learnalanguage.com contains links to extensive resources on 19 different languages.
You can learn over 1,400 words in your target language for free with their vocabulary lists and verb conjugation charts, and there’s plenty more free learning to be done in the nine languages in which the site has its own courses.
3. Open Culture
Open Culture is an e-learning website that hosts “the best free cultural and educational media on the web.”
When it comes to languages, they’re not bluffing.
Open Culture lists free courses in 48 languages, from Amharic to Yiddish.
With these collected resources from governments, universities and respected private institutions worldwide, you can find free lessons without sacrificing quality.
4. Surface Languages
Surface Languages maintains an extensive database of free online learning resources and beginner audio courses in Italian, Portuguese, French and Polish.
There’s a handy section with audio and flashcards in Afrikaans and Romanian, and a “recently added” sidebar that shows you the latest additions to their ever-growing language learning library.
However, you can also find lists of vocabulary and phrases in some of the rarest languages, such as Yucatec Maya and Sinhala.
5. Internet Polyglot
Internet Polyglot offers many of the same resources as the sites listed above, with the awesome added advantage of its “quick start menu.”
This allows you to choose what language you’re learning and the language you’re learning it in.
Do you already speak Spanish and want to get started on Portuguese? Select “Spanish” for your language, and start with a composite mental exercise to strengthen one language while building another.
Whether you’re learning one language or in a polyamorous love affair with all languages, Omniglot should live on your browser’s bookmarks bar.
This online encyclopedia of languages and writing systems is like the Wikipedia of all things linguistics.
Not only does it provide linguistic and cultural information on hundreds of world languages, but it also offers some of its own free video lessons.
Under its “courses” page, Omniglot maintains an impressive list of links to learning resources for specific languages, most of which are free.
7. BBC Languages
BBC Languages offers free information and learner resources for 40 global languages.
While some are more thorough than others, the seven languages listed on their homepage include extensive links to target language media (like TV streaming services, online newspapers and magazines in French, Chinese and Greek).
The kinds of resources vary from language to language. Still, most include overviews and phrasebooks, as well as BBC’s own introductory lessons, on-site courses and links to help you find classes in your area.
ThoughtCo. provides a long list of language learning resources like many others on this list, but also has its own sites dedicated to several of the languages.
About French, for example, includes educational videos, blog posts on French learning topics and guides to language essentials.
About German offers much of the same. Explore multiple languages and find links to extensive resources across the Web.
9. Wikitravel Phrasebooks
This user-maintained wiki has a compilation of travel phrasebooks, ranging from well-known world languages like Arabic and Portuguese to less popular choices like Kannada and Papiamento.
Even some of the most skeleton-like articles on languages like Zulu include guides to pronunciation, basic phrases, numbers, time, transportation, eating, shopping and common problem-solving vocabulary.
This makes it an incredible resource for practically-inclined learners who just want to get out and use their language.
10. Effective Language Learning
This website offers free lessons in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Plus, it’s packed with great resources to help you decide which language to learn and the best methods for mastering 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.
Click on Language Learning Tips and read through 17 great ways to get the most out of online lessons.
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 on the market.
Here you’ll find vocabulary lessons in more than 25 languages, complete with audio recordings to help you learn pronunciation.
The vocabulary lessons are perfect for both audio and visual learners because they incorporate images with each audio file. Some exercises are already set to an advanced level by default, but you can adjust the difficulty level in your settings.
(The English and French courses also offer grammar instruction and reading selections alongside the vocabulary lists.)
When it’s time to test your knowledge, use both the speaking and listening challenges.
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 obscure to 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.
Use the dictionary, exercises and downloadable audio clips to get the most out of your learning experience.
13. Headstart2 Defense Language Institute
The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a government service that makes high-quality language learning programs available for free.
Headstart2 is one of the best and most easily navigable services hosting complete DLI courses. After quickly registering for an account, you’ll be launched straight into interactive lessons with maps, images, sound, cultural notes and more.
Video-based Language Learning Websites
Turning on the TV is great for language learning.
If you want your brain to soak up the sights and sounds of actual everyday speech and how it’s used in your target language, tune in and kick back for some quality input-based learning with these websites.
14. Easy Languages
The Easy Languages website and YouTube channel post videos that show real people using their native language in an everyday context.
The videos feature on-the-street interviews with locals, who discuss language, culture and life in general.
Not only can these videos help you practice listening to authentic spoken language, but they can also give you valuable insight into local culture.
Videos are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and many more.
And the good news is you don’t need advanced-level skills to enjoy the material.
The videos include subtitles in the target language and English, and both sets appear simultaneously. This makes it easy to read along in your target language or refer to the English translation if you don’t understand the words.
Although not designed as a language learning tool, Streema offers free TV streaming from over 100 countries worldwide in nearly as many languages.
This is an especially exciting resource if you’re learning a less commonly studied language with limited video materials available.
Tuning into your favorite Albanian or Nepali TV station can easily compensate for the lack of other learning materials online.
16. Innovative Language
Innovative Language is a massive system of free video and audio lessons in over 40 languages.
It’s updated with new lessons every week, with material geared towards absolute beginners up to advanced learners nearing fluency.
You may recognize it from its podcast sites (for example, PortuguesePod101.)
You’ll be directed to these language-specific sites once you enter your email and pick a language. Here’s just a sampling of the many popular foreign languages they currently offer:
It focuses on audio and video material made by professional teachers, and it’s one of the field’s most prolific and consistent language sites. They teach grammar, vocabulary, everyday conversations, real-life situations and culture.
Although they have a paid version of the service, thousands of professionally produced audio and videos are free.
17. YouTube Movies & Shows
Did you know that YouTube has an insane number of TV shows and movies available worldwide?
Just browse through the collection and find international movies such as “The Negotiation” in Korean, “All About My Mother” in Spanish and “Raazi” in Hindi.
(Speaking of Hindi, YouTube is particularly helpful for learners of Indian languages, as it includes Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and others widely spoken through the Indian subcontinent.)
Some movies must be purchased, but many international movies are free.
If all the content on the platform is overwhelming, consider using a virtual immersion platform.
FluentU, for example, takes YouTube-sourced content and adds interactive subtitles for instant definitions, review quizzes to test your knowledge of the material and multimedia flashcards for more study session options.
The quizzes use various exercises like speaking prompts, fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice, and it’s available on iOS, Android or through the web.
That’s right—your Netflix addiction can give you next-level listening practice. Netflix offers countless foreign language movies and TV shows, and you can enjoy them all with your existing subscription.
Search the name of your target language with “TV” or “movies” to find options.
For example, Spanish TV aficionados can enjoy options like “La Casa de Papel“ (“Money Heist” in the English version), and French movie fans can watch “Je ne suis pas un homme facile“ (“I Am Not an Easy Man”).
Perhaps best of all for language learners, Netflix offers flexible subtitling options. You can enjoy any content with or without English subtitles. For some options (particularly “Netflix Originals”), you may even be able to add subtitles in your target language so that you can read along as you watch.
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Many world universities are making lesson materials and entire courses online for free. Here are some of the best massively open online courses (MOOCs) for learning a language.
19. MIT Open Courseware
MIT was one of the university hipsters making their course content available online before it was cool.
Under the amazing “Global Studies and Languages” section of their Open Courseware website, you’ll find courses ranging from Chinese II to Contemporary French Politics.
The courses are designed to help you engage with the language you’re studying and its greater cultural context.
EdX is one of the biggest MOOC websites. You can find tons of college-level courses here, created and taught by professors from top universities.
Consider taking a dedicated language class or a course in your target language if you’re more advanced. For example, you can now sign up to take an algebra class entirely in Spanish!
You can also earn college credits on EdX through Arizona State University.
Some of the courses have certificates you can get for completing them. In general, it costs money to get a verified certificate for completing a course (so make sure you check the details before you sign up), but many of the courses themselves are still free.
The courses offered on Coursera are run by professors from world-renowned institutions, and you can earn a certificate from many of them.
Many courses will be geared toward beginners (like “First Step Korean”) and others will engage more generally with language learning (like “Miracles of Human Language”).
On Coursera, there are currently over 900 classes taught in Spanish, over 430 in Chinese and over 340 in French.
Whatever you find here, it’s coming from a respected university or educational institute, and if it’s not on offer now, sign up to get an alert when it is.
22. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
The OLI at Carnegie Mellon isn’t specifically made for language courses, but several excellent ones are on offer.
You’ll find frequent courses in the world’s biggest and most commonly learned languages, like Spanish, French and Chinese.
Each of the nine languages offered on Alison’s platform includes at least an introductory course, and others include more advanced and detailed courses in popular languages like French.
Best of all, if you complete all modules and score at least 80% on all your course assignments, you’ll be rewarded with a fancy (and free) certificate!
24. The Mega List of MOOC from Web Technos and Translation
The blog Web Technos and Translation recommends taking a MOOC given in the foreign language you’re studying and gives you a decent list to get started.
Whether you want to study Croatian history in Croatian or telecommunications in French, the goal is the same. You’ll learn more naturally by focusing on a topic instead of the language itself.
Some of the links in the post are outdated, and there may be some broken links, but you can check out this constantly updated list of MOOCs by Class Central and sort by the language of instruction in the panel to the left of the list.
Free Language Exchange Websites
The biggest secret to effective language learning isn’t a secret at all: You’ve gotta talk! And who better to talk with than a native speaker?
It’s okay if you can’t hop on a plane this weekend—instead, just click over to one of these websites, where you can connect with native speakers of your target language for free.
italki is one of the biggest names for practicing your language skills online with native speakers.
Designed for language learners to find native-speaking teachers and exchange partners via Skype or the online classroom, the free version of their service includes great benefits, including access to their learner community.
This access allows you to connect with other learners and arrange informal language exchanges via Skype or email.
If you're looking to invest a little more to have a private tutor or teacher at some point, you can do that on italki too.
26. The Polyglot Club
The Polyglot Club is an awesome all-purpose language learning website with tons of free features for connecting with native speakers of your target language.
You can find language exchange partners, submit written texts for correction, hang out in chat rooms, browse through target language videos and attend language events and meetups.
HiNative is an innovative app that takes a nontraditional approach.
Rather than giving you flashcards and courses or even facilitating Skype sessions, HiNative allows you to ask questions to native speakers of the language you’re learning.
Whether it’s about the difference between two confusing words, getting a pronunciation check or figuring out how and when to use the subjunctive, just send a text and wait for a response.
Word2Word is all about connecting the world, and they aim to do so by providing you with an insane amount of free online language learning resources.
Not only are there chat rooms and meetups, but the site hosts resources on everything from typing characters in other alphabets to a Dictionary of Period Russian Names.
If you’re looking for language exchange and don’t mind falling down the rabbit hole of linguistic geekery, this is the place to get started.
For many of us, speaking comes easily, but when it comes time to put pen to paper and communicate in writing, suddenly we feel like we don’t know a word.
Lang-8 is a community of native speakers of various world languages who work together to improve each other’s writing skills by offering revisions and tips on the posts made in their languages.
Don’t forget to pay it forward by helping others with your native language too!
You can use Tandem to find your next language partner or interact with them directly through the app. You can also set your language levels to let other users know your proficiency before you connect.
Tandem allows you to exchange audio calls, video calls, texts and audio messages.
They can even hook you up with text translations in the app if you need extra support to chat more easily, making Tandem a great choice for beginning learners.
Some learners struggle with speaking practice because they just don’t know what to talk about. If this sounds like you, Bilingua’s conversation and phrase recommendations can be just the boost you need to start using your language skills.
You can communicate with your partner through audio or video, and the app’s algorithm matches you with the perfect partner.
And if you need a break from speaking practice, you and your partner can play games together for a fun study break.
32. The Mixxer
The Mixxer is a free website provided by Dickinson College. You search profiles to find someone you’re interested in speaking with, then both of you hop onto Skype to work a little speaking practice into your language study.
If you prefer writing practice, you can also ask your partner to look at your writing and correct your work.
Language Learning Websites for Reading Skills
Readlang is a powerful tool for reading practice, but it also converts tons of authentic websites into powerful learning tools.
Readlang is a downloadable web reader.
Once you’re using it, you can go to any website in your target language and click any word you don’t know for an instant translation. Plus, the words you click are saved so you can practice them with flashcards.
If you don’t feel up to sourcing your own authentic content to read with Readlang, don’t worry—the site has already found some great content to get you started on the right path. Just access Readlang’s library for content suggestions.
You can even filter library selections by difficulty level, word count and category (fiction, non-fiction, song, conversation, other) to find the right text.
Lingua.com offers plenty of authentic reading material, like dialogues, short stories and articles.
These texts are conveniently organized by level, making selecting an appropriate option for your current skills easy.
Readings are usually brief, and each one is accompanied by questions to test your comprehension. Once you complete the questions, the website will suggest additional texts you might enjoy, making it easy to keep your reading practice going.
If you prefer printed exercises, Lingua.com also offers printable PDFs that feature both the reading, associated questions and answers to these questions.
Lingua offers texts in Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
35. Reading A-Z
Reading A-Z is designed to provide printable material for teachers, but that doesn’t mean learners can’t use it, too!
Use the “Resources” drop-down menu to look at options in the “Spanish & More World Languages” category.
While most material helps you learn Spanish or French, students studying these languages can find leveled books, authentic books, songs, fiction series, word books and more.
Materials are intended for children, making them mostly at the beginner level. With a free trial, you can download reading materials, lessons on those materials, worksheets and more.
Language Learning Websites for Writing Skills
36. Conversation Exchange
This website is another language exchange resource, but you can choose to look for users interested in a pen pal relationship.
There are over 1,000 users interested in a pen pal relationship who speak German alone, so it’s safe to assume you’ll probably be able to find a pen pal who speaks your target language, too.
Of course, Conversation Exchange isn’t just for writing. If you find a partner you connect with, you can also arrange to interact via text, voice or video chat through services like Skype or Google Hangouts.
37. My Language Exchange
If you want a pen pal relationship to perfect your writing skills, you don’t have to sort through users who want speaking practice to find one. My Language Exchange has a page just for pen pals.
This website focuses on connecting users for an email penpal relationship, and they provide helpful tips to make sure you both get the most out of the exchanges.
You can browse for pen pals by language or country. An advanced search provides an even broader array of criteria, like country, city, age, gender and more.
Reddit may be your go-to destination to find the latest funny photos or connect with like-minded individuals who are as passionate about your unique interests as you are. But it’s also an awesome tool for practicing writing in your target language.
There are several subreddits in foreign languages, so you can snag the writing (and reading) practice you’re looking for. And let’s be real—someone will be prepared to correct your grammar. This is the internet, after all.
Most foreign language forums are subreddits for foreign countries, so you can practice your Italian on the Italy subreddit, Spanish on the Mexico subreddit or Portuguese on the Brasil subreddit.
Free Websites for Vocabulary and Flashcards
Duolingo’s user-friendly vocabulary games made language learning cool again.
They use a gaming strategy to make sure you retain more of what you learn, and the truly dedicated will be rewarded by being asked to translate sentences of increasingly comical ridiculousness as they work up through the levels of their language.
Memrise gives you a more hands-on option for flashcard learning with its “mems.” You can use the cards provided by Memrise and other users, or you can create your own mnemonic devices by composing and finding images for your own cards.
Somehow, repetition doesn’t seem so repetitive when you can turn all your flashcards into irreverent memes and personal in-jokes tailored to you and your own brain.
41. Digital Dialects
For beginners and those suffering from 90s nostalgia, Digital Dialects is a techno-retro online game site with animated and interactive lessons in dozens of languages.
Listen to the voice as it names fruits, click them and drag them into a basket, or match English phrases to those in your target language. It’s a simple platform free of distraction, and it offers that je ne sais quoi for the Nintendo kids who still have a knack for learning in 16-bit.
Free French Resources
42. The French Experiment
Free French lessons, stories, reviews and cats!
43. London Speaks French
Vocabulary and grammar lessons with a helpful pronunciation tool to compare your voice to natives’.
For dedicated Francophiles looking to max out their online learning time, browse through some of these free online French lessons
Free German Resources
With 10 beginner and 24 advanced grammar lessons, this free resource is a great starting point for beginning learners and those intimidated by the infamously frustrating German grammar.
This größter Online-Deutschkurs has helpful audio clips, interactive lessons and links to in-person courses in Berlin and other parts of Central Europe.
For more resources, check out our in-depth post about how to learn German for free.
Free Spanish Resources
Don’t be fooled by the simple name. With exhaustive information and lessons on all aspects of the language, it’s a Spanish linguistic powerhouse and a goldmine for learners.
47. Spanish Games
Learn Spanish with fun, interactive vocabulary games.
48. 123 Teach Me
A mega-resource for all things Spanish, including free online games, courses, word of the day and a handy verb conjugator.
You can find more tips and resources in our full guide to learning Spanish for free.
Free Chinese Resources
Chinese public television and a BBC-like array of written media and resources for Chinese language learners.
A 40-lesson online course with a learner forum and Chinese dictionary.
51. Zhongwen Red
In-context vocabulary and culture lessons in a conversation-like format.
Our guide to learning Chinese online for free will give you even more resources to explore.
Free Japanese Resources
52. Japanese Online
A simple beginner’s resource with four units on the basics, topic modifiers, sentence structures and Japanese traditions.
53. NHK World
This Japanese public broadcaster maintains its own online magazine, including language lessons, audio clips and video resources for learners.
If you’re more of an app person, read our blog post about free Japanese apps for more budget-friendly options.
Free Arabic Resources
54. Arabic Online
This website from the European Union aims to help beginners familiarize themselves with the Arabic language and offers several paid courses beyond the beginner level.
55. Arabic Keyboard
Aside from helping you with tricky Arabic script and the grammar that goes along with it, this site includes super helpful, practical information about the Arabic language, its dialects and where/how to use them.
56. Arabic Reading Course
For absolute beginners, this letter-by-letter course is the perfect jump-start to get you reading and writing in Arabic.
Free Portuguese Resources
57. Learn Portuguese with Rafa
Beyond introductory lessons on topics like counting and ordering food, Rafa maintains a sidebar full of links on everything from traditional recipes to doing business in Portuguese.
58. Todo Mundo Pod
An exciting São Paulo-based podcast with basic tips in English and the rest in beautiful Brazilian Portuguese.
59. Practice Portuguese
Get started with the free Practice Portuguese Podcast for those looking to learn Iberian (European) Portuguese.
60. Really Learn Portuguese
Podcasts and flashcards for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners, all brought to you by two friendly Brazilians.
Check out our full blog post to explore more free Portuguese learning resources.
How to Get the Most Out of Learning a Language Through a Website
Try several websites.
These websites are free, so try as many as you want. Testing various websites can help you find those that best match your needs and interests.
You might even try all the websites listed above to see which you like best. Once you’ve tried them all, you can narrow your usage to just one or two per category.
View it as your own personal version of “The Bachelor,” but with significantly less drama (unless you find out one of the websites isn’t here for the right reasons).
Pay attention to level.
Websites can vary quite a bit in level. While some options can accommodate all levels, other websites focus more specifically on beginning, intermediate or advanced learners.
Finding a website that works with your level will help you use it to maximum effect. Websites that are too advanced can be demotivating, while those that are too easy might not lead to as rapid progress.
Pair multiple websites.
Pairing multiple websites gives you a variety of approaches to your target language. Plus, you’re more likely to develop all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening).
Because each website offers a different approach and material, you may find that using many makes you even more comfortable with your target language.
Take advantage of free trials.
Some of the resources on this list are completely free with no option to upgrade, while others offer free trials. This is an excellent opportunity to learn for free while testing out a premium learning product you might want to subscribe to.
3 Benefits of Learning with Free Language Learning Websites
Aside from the fact that these courses are free and available to everyone, there are several significant advantages to learning a language online.
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 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!
Online courses allow you to work at your own pace, whether you have a whole vacation dedicated to language learning or just a few minutes to spare before bed.
The flexibility 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 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.
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 of 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.
These 60 websites prove that money is no objection to determined language learners.
The first step is just clicking one of the links above.
Now all you need to do is make the time for language learning, and you’re all set to start heading toward fluency!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)