9 Websites You Can Use to Learn a Foreign Language

by STEVE BLOOM
 

Traveling is a great way to see a country and learn about the people who live there. But if you really want to learn what makes them tick than you need to learn their language. Immersing yourself in a new language can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are great free resources available to turn your first few words into fluency.

BBC Languages

A great resource to get you going. There are videos, pronunciation guides, words of the day and many more resources. This is a huge and extremely useful site on learning foreign languages. You can find useful phrases and words in many languages including many relatively obscure ones such as Luxembourgish. This is a great place to start.

Word2Word

This site can really increase your vocabulary and syntax. There are lists of online dictionaries, videos on Youtube and other language learning tools. One great feature is that you have access to chat rooms in foreign languages. That is your opportunity to try out what you’ve learned and practice. And practice is the key to becoming comfortable in a new language.

Internet Polyglot

This site isn’t intended to be used as your sole learning site. It is a supplement to your main learning source since it is a source for memorization of material, not understanding how to use it. There are many lessons to go through including flashcards, games and other study materials. Very useful for memorization, but you should already be familiar with the basics of the language.

Busuu

A language learning community. There are so many cool features on this site. There are tons of learning topics, photos and interactive learning lessons for all types of learners. Plus, there is interactive video chat and exams where you can test your progress. More than that, it let’s you create a profile. Your profile will track your learning units and you can even connect it to your facebook account.

Madinah Arabic Language Course

This site was set up over 8 years ago specifically to teach Arabic for free. Their goal was to teach Muslims and non-Muslims to learn Arabic so there will be resources you will find useful. There are a lot of e-books for you to download. There is even an option to download the entire website. Flashcards, reading courses and a forum feature on the site. Podcasts are currently not available, but the site says that they are coming in the near future.

Livemocha

Another learning language community. It has over 6 million members making it the world’s largest online language community. The site offers free and paid language courses in 35 languages using audio, imagery and text. You can make friends and connect with people all over the world similar to how Facebook is set up. It has a very interactive environment.

Skritter

This site focuses on just Chinese and Japanese. These languages are harder to learn for English speakers so a focus on these languages on this site can be very helpful if you’re trying to learn them. This isn’t a free site, but there is an option to try the site out free for two weeks. The site promotes their ability to teach you a new Chinese or Japanese character every 192 seconds. They also claim a retention rate of 95% for those characters. This can be a great resource, especially if you are having trouble writing the characters and/or need to learn their stroke order.

Ethnologue

Owned by SIL International, the Ethnologue is a listing of the known living languages of the world. This is the place to go if you want to know more about the language you’re learning that goes beyond memorizing vocabulary and sentence structures. It provides greater depth and detail about all existing languages including languages in danger of becoming extinct (currently at 473).

A great resource to learn about the language you want to study, but not a place to go if you want to study the language itself.

My Happy Planet

One more language community, but this one is different from the others. The focus of this site is to connect you to either native speakers of the language or others studying the same language so that they can help you learn. You have the option to learn from live chat, videos or lessons.

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Comments

  1. I knew about BBC Languages but I didn’t know about the others. Have you used any of these that you would recommend above the others?

  2. Small world! I pre-wrote a post that’s being published later this week about my bucket list goal #4 Become Fluent in Spanish. I mentioned that I’m using BBC Language and Pimsleur’s CDs to help me achieve this goal. Like Jessica, I didn’t know about the other websites and I’m curious as to which one you prefer as well. Inquiring minds are dying to know!

    • Personally, I prefer BBC Language. It is so comprehensive and has a lot to offer. I was using it in connection with other study habits I was doing to learn French. I got real good at it too and I even read an entire novel in French and could watch French tv without subtitles.

      I’ve tried Pimsleur’s CD before and I thought it was good. I’ve never tried Rosetta Stone even though it is suppose to be really good. Even the US Foreign Service uses it to train their officers. It’s just too expensive for me to want to try.

  3. Nice job on this…I think it’s really useful! I like the BBC site and I’ve heard that Livemocha is cool. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Good list. I’m currently trying to learn Spanish and getting Rosetta Stone is out of the equation. I’ll give them a try!

    Thanks!

  5. great list Steve! I think these sights can be really helpful in first getting that language into your head. In my case, I can only use them in a preliminary way as I have to have to face to face interaction when learning.

    • Thanks Mary, I think that live face to face interaction would be the ultimate and preferred way to learn. That’s the way I would want to do it too. But it’s good to know that there is a lot of good sites out there for those who don’t have that chance.

  6. Hello,

    This is a great list. I’ve been hunting lately for online Vietnamese lessons, so I’ll check out your recommendations.

    I also use http://www.lang-8.com, which is another community of learners that write and correct for each other.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for sharing that site, I’m going to check it out. Vietnamese is a fun language to learn. I knew a few phrases from when I traveled through the country, but I forget most of them now. But good luck in learning and I hope some of these sites help you out.

  7. I need to give all these sites a go, so far I have been obsessed by books and cd’s. Saying that though, I find nothing is better than practical experience.

  8. The BBC site fo rSpanish is definitely useful. I also follow their BBC Mundo Spanish daily news podcasts.

    I’m going to check out a couple of those communities as well. Cheers.

  9. Hey Steve,

    I was doing a google search for language learning and found your site.

    This is really helpful info. I’m going to Portugal in a few weeks so these sites should prove most helpful. And when I was going through them I didn’t realize really how similar Portuguese and Spanish are, should make things easier!

    Thanks for these sites.

    Cheers!

    • I haven’t learned much Portuguese, but I’ve heard it’s similar to Spanish. There are plenty of differences from what I can tell though.

  10. BBC languages appeals to me but a like the idea of Livemocha for the large community it offers.

  11. I love that the Korean doesn’t mean anything. hh.

  12. Heather Pelaez says:

    My favorite language learning site is http://www.fsi-language-courses.org. I can’t believe it didn’t make the cut.

  13. My favorite il http://asktomyself.com where you can learn thousand of new words 😉

  14. A tip is to find language specific website, so if your learning Spanish http://www.ver-taal.com/ is a recommended website, especially websites that teach and immerse at the same time. This was a good article

  15. I thin to learn foreign language is go to the related country. This is more effective and give the faster result.

    • That’s true, but it helps to get a good start before you go. Also, you want to make sure you go somewhere that doesn’t speak English much so that you really make it so that you need to learn the language.

  16. Another free resource I would like to mention is http://www.antosch-and-lin.com/
    Plenty of audio flashcards for both words and sentences.

  17. Theodore says:

    You forgot Duolingo.com

  18. shateepaul says:

    The material ranges from absolutely introductory tutorials to tutorials for even the most advanced literatures. Both the absolute basics of the language are covered, such as the alphabet and verb conjugation, as well as very advanced material, such as Arabic poetry and deep etymology. It is an extraordinary supplement to Arabic language courses and is an invaluable and authoritative resource for Classical Arabic.

  19. Awesome resource Steve. My wife is learning Italian and me to a lesser extent. These tools and sites you offer can really enhance and accelerate the process. I am emailing her this link now. Thanks again and thanks for the recent follow on Twitter.

  20. It’s very good site. I have very good experience with https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sa.stranslater there we can learn all languages it’s really helpful.

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