If you don't already speak a second language, there are plenty of avenues for you to explore to learn one. You can enroll in classes at your local community college, find a tutor or go to a language learning institute. But what if you want to learn from the comfort of your apartment or on the commute to work?
I've put together the list below of some websites and apps where you can learn on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
DuoLingo is fun, fresh and free. They have a system based on the common social game/app template (earn points, unlock levels, compete against your friends). iOS and Android apps. They say:
The best new way to learn a language.
Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Our bite-sized lessons are effective, and we have a study to prove it.
Based in Berlin, Babbel has been around since 2008. They have interactive courses and their material is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It has a monthly fee that is reduced by how many months you pay in advance (1 month for $12.95, 12 months for $6.95). iOS and Android apps. They say:
Babbel came about because of a distinct and very fundamental desire: to learn a language.
When Lorenz Heine decided to learn Spanish, he knew this much was clear: learning should be easy, fun and simple to integrate into everyday life. Since no online language learning services lived up to his expectations, he developed his own vocabulary trainer.
Created to counter the traditional ways of learning a language, Busuu provides chatting with native speakers, lots of material and both free and premium membership levels. Both iOS and Android apps. They say:
busuu.com is an innovative online community for learning languages.
We have personally suffered from the traditional way to learn a new language which we always found expensive, difficult and boring.
Livemocha claims to be the biggest online language community and fuse traditional learning methods with online practice and interaction with native speakers. Launched in 2007 it was purchased by Rosetta Stone in 2013. Learning is free and any premium levels are handled through Rosetta Stone. They say:
Learning with the Livemocha Community
The Livemocha community is made up of language enthusiasts: teachers, language experts, other language learners, and native speakers proud of their language and heritage. Community members help each other learn in a myriad of ways: they leave comments in response to practice exercises, build mini-lessons within exercise feedback, have practice conversations via text, video or audio chat, provide language practice and culture tips, and give much-needed encouragement.
5. Rosetta Stone
Traditionally recognizable as the yellow box with CDs for learning a new language, Rosetta Stone offers all the courses online and via smartphone. They have options for still getting the CDs, having an instant download (that is your personal copy) or just joining with a subscription. The price is high (Level 1 Arabic course is €$250, while the 12-month subscription is €$200) but the results are worth it if you invest your time and effort. They say:
Rosetta Stone Inc. is dedicated to changing the way the world learns. The company's innovative, technology-driven language, literacy and brain-fitness solutions are used by thousands of schools, businesses, government organisations and millions of individuals around the world. Founded in 1992, Rosetta Stone pioneered the use of interactive software to accelerate language learning. Today the company offers courses in 24 languages, from the most commonly spoken (such as English, Spanish and Mandarin) to the less prominent (including Irish, Swedish and Tagalog).
6. Open Culture: Free Language Courses Online
While this is only a listing of the places to find free language courses, it's free! And for someone who needs a few phrases here or there or is easily distracted, this may be a good place to start. Open Culture's list is sorted by language so you can see all that is available. They say:
How to learn languages for free? This collection features lessons in 40 languages, including Spanish, French, English, Mandarin, Italian, Russian and more. Download audio lessons to your computer or mp3 player and you’re good to go.
Have you tried any of these online language learning resources? Which is your favorite?
- Mert Arkan