The best FREE online Language Learning resources

I started learning Spanish when I first got to South America and by far the best technique for learning was submerging myself in the language.

During my travels I had found myself in places with no other English speakers for weeks and other times in places where there were only English speakers.

It became clear I couldn't always rely on the help of locals.

So I always studied on the side to make sure I was prepared for any situation with or without local help, and these are the website I used (and am still using) to help me along my learning journey.


DuoLingo

 

The most widely recognized Language Learning website, and rightly so. This surprisingly addictive platform gives you all the tools and resources you need to successfully learn a language.

Once you sign up you are presented with a progressive learning tree with new topics to unlock as you complete 'levels'

 

Starting with basics, it concentrates on all techniques, speaking, listen, reading and writing. Users gain skill points as they learn which go towards a score (this is where you can get competitive with other online users) once a level is completed and the next skill unlocked the tree turns gold, the aim is to keep all levels gold, encouraging you to keep practising.

 

Pros

.For me I enjoy setting the pace of my learning and Duo Lingo is great for this. You can study for 1 hour a day or 10, 1 day a week or 7 days a week. It is easy to pick up where you left off, and they offer a great practice section if your feeling rusty.

. It's portable, Duo Lingo can be done everywhere, stick your head phones in and do it on the train, just maybe skip the speaking parts when in public places.

. It's very encouraging. Anyone with a competitive or compulsive streak will want to keep your 'owl' (Duo Lingos mascot) happy and keep your tree gold.

. It actually works! You really do learn from it, it helps you to think in the language your studying.

. The material is almost unlimited, even when you finish the tree (which takes a long time) you can then move on to translation work online and of course continuing to keep your tree gold.

. It's free! A lot of times I find myself saying 'I would have paid for this'

 

Cons

. The apps don't explain vocabulary rules as well as the main site does. For example a new verb on the app will be highlighted and translated, but on the main site it will have other options such as plural and conjunctives translations.

. You need WIFI to use it, it enables one section that can be used offline, but that can be done within 10 minutes and then you are left with no options and therefore cannot us it again until you have WIFI.

 


 

Memrise

This site uses mnemonic flashcards that use your pre existing knowledge and helps you learn new words. It is also based on a few scientific discoveries that are proven to help us learn effectively. The 'flash cards' contain a few explanations of the new word, which is in bold, along with some tongue in check examples in another attempt to help you remember. For example, the Spanish word for 'to sit' is sentarse, the way Memrise explains this is 'the man wants to 'sit on his arse' along with a picture of a man going to sit down.

You can almost feel your brain remembering words as the word is repeated in 3 or 4 different ways.

Unlike Duo lingo there is no set learning structure, you can pick and download your chosen courses, such as 'Top 10 Spanish words' or 'Italian Foods' and concentrate on what you want to learn. It is available in 13 languages, and again is completely free.

 

Pros

. It can be used offline, no WIFI required.

. It is fun and interactive

. You can't help but remember some of its funny phrases.

 

Cons

. You have to go onto their website to download courses, you can't download them straight from the app.

. There are not many options for sentences, more apps just for single words.



Coffee break español- also in other languages 

 

My personal favorite.

The top language learning podcast in the UK.

This podcast explains your chosen language in a fun and simple.way in appropriate context. Each podcast lasts for a perfect 30 minutes and leaves you excited to learn more. The presenter, Mark, makes learning exciting and explains why words are pronounced 'like that' and why verbs are 'used like this'. It is also extremely interactive and connects you with learners from all around the globe. You can visit their website to start up conversations with other listeners or read tips from Mark and the team. You can download each and every podcast from lesson one and follow them all the way through, or skip to your desired level. There is an option to purchase an upgrade from the free version which comes with added material such as word lists and bonus podcasts.

For me this was my most successful attempt at learning Spanish, I felt at ease with the learning pace and it felt strangely personal and supportive.

 

Pros.

.You can listen to it anywhere. Perfect for travelling. Just download it when you have WIFI and keep it on your phone for whenever you want to listen.

 

.There is already a.massive library of podcasts so you can download every one right away if you want, there for always keeping up to date with learning

 

. You can pause play or fast forward at your own speed. No score boards or marks to keep up on.

 

. No thinking required, just listening. You don't have to type any words or do any quizzes you simple just listen.

 

Cons

. Mark (sounds) like a lovely guy, but his Scottish accent sometimes gets in the way. It is not too strong but as with all accents some words are harder to understand. But really this Is a unnecessary con, I only mentioned it as I couldn't think of any others.

 

Another useful app to combine with these would be an English too (your chose language) dictionary. Preferably an offline one. You will find many different options in your app store by simply typing in your requirements. It will help for you to quickly translate a word, but won't help with sentences or pronocation.

 

And of course there's always the old school way; carry a note pad and a pen with you where ever you go. Write down every so word you hear that you don't understand and research it later, or even better just ask!

 

Language Learning is no longer a struggle with all these great resources out there and the fact you don't even have to depart with a penny makes it even more rewarding. So get learning and open your life up to a world full of communication.

 


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Have any of you been able to learn a language online?What other sites do you find useful?


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Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Rebecca (Wednesday, 02 April 2014 17:35)

    Thank you! I have just started reading your blog as my boyfriend and I (both from Australia) are starting to plan on open end trip to South America and beyond and are 'trying' to learn a little bit of Spanish before we go and your blog has been the most straightforward, clear advice we have come across! We are definately going to be 'Stalking' you!!

  • #2

    Sarah (Wednesday, 02 April 2014 23:36)

    Thanks Rebecca
    when are you coming?? Its just the best place ever!!

  • #3

    Rebecca (Thursday, 10 April 2014 03:20)

    Hi Sarah

    We are coming in July and really, really want to be in Colombia/Peru at that time but looks like we can only get flights from Australia into Buenos Aires or Santiago. So we might have to make our way north to Peru/Colombia somehow then head back south when the weather warms up again!

    I checked out your friends blog 'ONEWAYTICKET' (thanks for the link), which is filled with awesome inspiration and advice but i have to be honest and tell you that your's is my favourite by far! Think you had me at "Coffee!!!"

    I have two main questions to ask you and was wondering what would be the best way to contact you???

    Rebecca