You can calibrate the exact right amount of swing in your hips to look cool while salsa dancing.
You can carry so many beer mugs they’re tried to recruit you as a server for Oktoberfest.
You can whip up instant ramen in five minutes (less if you don’t mind a little crunch).
There’s no denying that you have mad skills. But do you have the right language skills?
Language proficiency requires much more than vocabulary and grammar alone. To become proficient, you’ll also need reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
So how’s a learner supposed to develop well-rounded skills if they don’t take a conventional course? The secret is using the right websites!
And guess what? Even the right free websites can give you the balanced skills you want and deserve.
Just use at least one resource from each skill category to help ensure you develop all the most important language skills.
How to Get the Most Out of Learning a Language Through a Website
Try several websites.
When you can use a website for free, there’s no harm in trying several! Plus, testing out a variety of websites can help you find the ones that best match your needs and interests.
You might even try all the websites listed below to see which you like best. Once you’ve tried them all, you can narrow down your usage to just one or two websites 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 that website to its maximum effect. Websites that are too advanced can be demotivating, while websites that are too easy might not lead to as rapid of progress.
Pair multiple websites.
Pairing multiple websites gives you a variety of approaches to your target language. Plus, to ensure you’ve developed all four language skills, pairing multiple websites may be essential.
Because each website offers a different approach and different material, you may even find that using a large number of websites makes you even more comfortable with your target language.
Aim for balance.
Traditional courses focus on balanced skills for a reason! Progressing in your target language requires balance, so aim for balance in your online education, too.
Sure, it can be easier to find reading and listening practice than speaking and writing practice, but if you don’t work on all your language skills, you might not have those skills when you need them.
Take advantage of free trials.
Some of the resources on this list are completely free, 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 down the road.
Learn a Language with Websites: 14 Free Sites for Mastering Language Skills
While many of these websites focus on multiple skill sets, some are better for certain skills than others.
Here are some of the best websites for each language skill. However, if you like a website, be sure to dedicate a little time to it to see if you could use it to develop multiple skills.
Language Learning Websites for Listening Skills
Understanding native speakers isn’t always easy for language students, but Easy Languages makes it totally doable.
Easy Languages provides 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, they can also give you valuable insight into local culture and lifestyles.
Videos are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and many more. You don’t even need advanced-level skills to enjoy the material! Videos feature 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.
If you prefer, you can also access videos through the amazing Easy Languages YouTube Channel.
Think about the sort of entertaining videos you watch in English on the regular. What if you could watch those types of videos in your target language? With FluentU, you can!
FluentU takes authentic videos, like movie trailers, music videos, news, informational talks and commercials, and converts them into powerful language learning tools. Each video features annotated captions, so you can easily see any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image. If you want to study a word more, just add it to your vocabulary list to keep it handy.
In addition to terrific video content, FluentU also offer quizzes that fuse videos, images and example sentences into flashcards and interactive activities for practice that’s both authentic and engaging. This makes FluentU useful for developing reading and writing skills along with listening abilities.
Regardless of your current level, FluentU can accommodate your learning needs and goals. You choose what you watch, how much you watch and how quickly you watch it. Meanwhile, FluentU’s algorithm tracks your progress to present you with level-appropriate questions that build on what you already know.
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.
Just search the name of your target language with “TV” or “movies” to find options. For instance, Spanish TV aficionados can enjoy options like “La Casa de Papel“ (literal translation: “The House of Paper”; English title: “Money Heist”). 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.
LanguagePod101 from Innovative Language is well-known for its language learning material, which focuses on audio podcast lessons.
You may know LanguagePod101 better by some of its language-specific options, such as SpanishPod101, ChineseClass101 or FrenchPod101. But there are so many more languages than that! LanguagePod101 also offers Bulgarian, Cantonese, Filipino, Finnish, Hindi, Swahili and more.
In addition to audio lessons that provide language instruction, LanguagePod101 also frequently offers targeted listening practice.
For instance, beginning Chinese students might check out the “Chinese Listening Comprehension for Absolute Beginners” playlist. Korean students can dive in with several Korean listening playlists, ranging from complete beginner to advanced.
Videos and podcasts for listening practice usually focus on common scenarios. You’ll hear a dialogue, then be asked to answer a question based on that dialogue, which is great for practicing comprehension.
Language Learning Websites for Speaking Skills
Getting speaking practice can be a little tricky for some learners, but italki makes it easier.
Italki allows you to connect with native speakers to practice your language skills. You can filter through potential conversation partners by language, gender, where they’re from, where they live now and whether they’re a native speaker.
This makes it easier to connect with someone for mutually beneficial language exchange. You help them practice your language, and in exchange, they help you practice their language.
Tandem is another option for connecting with native speakers. You can use Tandem to find your next language partner or even interact with them directly through the app. You can also set your language levels to let other users know how proficient you are before you connect.
Tandem allows you to exchange audio or video calls and text or audio messages. Tandem can even hook you up with text translations in the app if you need a little extra support to chat more easily, which makes Tandem a great choice for beginning learners.
Bilingua is another language exchange app, but this one has a useful twist. It can propose topics and phrases for you!
Some students 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 via audio or video, so you can stay in touch even on days you’re not camera-ready. Oh yeah, and the app’s algorithm matches you with the right partner for you!
But what if you need a break from all that speaking practice? Bilingua has a solution for that! You and your conversation partner can play games together for a fun study break.
The Mixxer is a free website provided by Dickinson College. The site acts sort of like a dating website but for language exchange partners. 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 have a look at your writing and correct your work, but we’ll give you some more options for writing practice later.
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.
Here’s why: Readlang is a downloadable web reader. Once you’re using it, you can go to any website in your target language and simply click any word you don’t know for an instant translation. Plus, the words you click are saved so that 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 for you.
Lingua.com is a free language learning website with a strong focus on text.
As such, Lingua.com offers plenty of authentic reading material, like dialogues, short stories and articles. These texts are conveniently organized by level, making it easy to select an option that’s appropriate for your current skills.
Readings are usually brief, and each reading is accompanied by a set of questions to test your comprehension. Once you complete the questions, the website will even suggest additional texts you might enjoy, making it easy to keep your reading practice going much longer.
If you prefer printed exercises, Lingua.com also offers printable PDFs that feature both the reading, the associated questions and the answers to these questions.
Lingua offers texts in Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
Reading A-Z is designed to provide printable material for teachers, but that doesn’t mean learners can’t use it, too!
Just use the “Resources” drop down menu to look at options in the “Spanish & More World Languages” category.
While most material helps you either learn Spanish or learn French, students studying these languages can find leveled books, authentic books, songs, fiction series, word books and more.
Materials are intended for children, so they’re mostly at a beginning level. They offer convenient, approachable reading practice for students who are just starting out.
With a free trial, you can download reading materials, lessons on those materials, worksheets and more.
Language Learning Websites for Writing Skills
Conversation Exchange is a website designed to help you meet the language exchange partner of your dreams.
And for students looking for writing practice, Conversation Exchange practice has a huge bonus: You can filter by other users looking for a pen pal relationship. That means you can find other users who are also looking for written correspondence, which is a great way to practice your writing skills with a native speaker.
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!
Now, Conversation Exchange isn’t just for written correspondence. 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. This makes Conversation Exchange useful for learning several language skills!
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 to find one. My Language Exchange has a page just for pen pals.
My Language Exchange focuses on connecting users for an email penpal relationship. Don’t know how to do that? Don’t worry! My Language Exchange even provides helpful tips to ensure you and your penpal both get the most out of your relationship.
You can browse for pen pals by language or country. An advanced search provides you with 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 guess what? Reddit can also be an awesome tool for practicing writing in your target language.
There are a number of subreddits in foreign languages, so you can snag the writing 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 of the foreign language subreddits are technically subreddits for foreign countries, so you can practice your Italian on the Italy subreddit, improve your Spanish with the Mexico subreddit or work on your Portuguese with the Brasil subreddit.
Of course, you can also get some authentic reading practice from Reddit, so that’s a nice bonus!
Don’t let your language skills hobble along like a car with three wheels! Use these 14 free websites to develop balanced skills and confidently continue on your journey to fluency.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.