The best things in life are free, such as getting much needed exercise by doing yardwork, having an entertaining afternoon spent with your family at the park or even having a movie/TV series marathon with your spouse using borrowed DVD’s or free online streaming services. This list is actually endless, with a wealth of possibilities just waiting for you.
One such possibility is learning a new language for free. There’s been some misconception that in order to learn a new language, you have to enroll in a class, buy books and other forms of media to learn. While hiring a language tutor is still the best and fastest way to being bilingual, you can still learn another language without paying a penny.
Totally Free Learning
For a free introductory lesson in 40 languages, BBC’s Languages is a pretty good resource. It offers beginners a mini-introduction on the language they want to learn, and has many set words and popular phrases ready. The only issue with the site is that it’s been archived, so it longer receives any updates.
Omniglot is a massive database of languages, alphabets, useful phrases and just about anything you can think of and want to read about. Another language database website is Openculture.com which lists dozens of links to learn any language for free. You just need to dig to find what you’re looking for.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative is also pretty good because anybody can take a free course module and learn. It’s limited to Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese and French, but it’s one of the most complete modules you can study for free. Honorable mention goes out to the Foreign Services Institute and LearnALanguage.com.
Gamify your Learning
As far as free language courses go, Duolingo is by far the best and most comprehensive. It encourages it’s users to learn and improve on their language skills by gamifying the whole experience. The lessons are well paced, and the program gives you all the information on nouns, verbs and accent marks among many others.
Another gamified experience can be found on Internet Polyglot. Here you can play a matching game, a guessing game, a typing game or play all of them by selecting the mix game. If you want to see how you stack up to other people learning on the site, register for a free account so your progress can be saved.
Another way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. Even if people in North America don’t study English, they’ll pick it up as children because everybody’s using it. The same principle applies in language immersion. If you know someone who speaks the language you want to learn, ask this person out for coffee or just hang out.
Large groups of people are better, and a popular way to learn another language is to live abroad. Couchsurfing is an excellent resource if you’re looking for a free place to stay while in another country. Ask your hosts if they can talk to you in their native tongue and offer corrections if needed.
If you don’t want to spend for a plane ticket, you can host other people on your couch. Just make sure that the people you accept speak the language you want to learn. You can also volunteer and join WWOOF or the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms where you’ll work on a farm for 4-6 hours a day in exchange for free food and lodging.
Learning a new language for free is totally doable and you should really consider trying it. While you won’t be offering services like the best quality French translation services with native speaking French translators, learning a new language can at least make your job prospects a little better and you’ll enjoy your world travels more.