Learning a new language doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, some of the best ways to learn a language are completely free, here’s our top 10 list:
Meeting native speakers or other learners of your target language is the cheapest, and (in our opinion) the best, way to improve your language skills. No matter where you live, you can find people to speak with in your target language: Come to one of our weekly language exchange events, search Facebook or meetup.com for other local language events in your area, or even find a language exchange partner online, using Italki.
Language learning app Duolingo was named free app of the year in 2013 by Apple, and since then several new apps have appeared to help you learn languages in innovative and interesting ways. Check out our blog for more information:
Volunteering in a foreign country is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign language and culture. Ok, so you might have to pay for your transport, but you can always hitchhike!
There are several portal websites which match volunteers with ‘hosts’. Generally you will be asked to do 5 hours of volunteering per day, in return for your food and accommodation, with two days off per week. You can choose from working in a hostel in a dynamic Barcelona, or helping a sheep farmer in rural France. We recommend Workaway.com however Helpx.net and Wwoof.net may also be worth checking out.
If you want to study more intensively, or volunteering is not your thing, you can choose a paid language learning holiday, check out our top destinations:
One of the best things about learning a new language is that it opens you up to a new world of culture, experiences and perspectives. Try to find an enjoyable hobby with links to your target language and use it as a way to improve your language learning while you pick up a new skill at the same time. Watch French cooking classes on youtube, go to a salsa evening, practise Tai Chi, or even see if your friends want to start a German Oom-pah band! The possibilities are endless.
One quick and easy way to increase your contact with your target language is to change the language settings on all your electronic devices: phone, laptop, sat nav etc.
This may seem like nothing, but you will be constantly interacting with your target language, and enforcing new vocabulary all the time. Google maps directions also sound pretty funny in foreign languages!
Ex-Evernote CEO Phil Libin wanted to lose weight, but he didn’t go on a diet or start exercising. Instead, he created a graph with his current weight on the left, and his goal weight on the right. He then recorded his weight on a spreadsheet every day. Phil lost 13kg in 6 months – by doing nothing but being more aware of his weight.
Set your goal (learn 5 words a day, speak for 5 minutes without using a dictionary etc) and make your own spreadsheet to track your progress.
PS. Phil Libin’s weightloss spreadsheet is available for free here.
Free, accessible, and perfect for your morning commute, podcasts have become extremely popular in almost every area, including language learning. Try language specific podcasts such as Coffee Break French or podcasts about language learning in general, such as the informative ‘Fluent Show’, which features interviews from polyglots and other language experts.
Finding a radio show that you like in a foreign language is also a great opportunity to improve your listening. Try the amazing Radio.Garden for a free map of local radio stations – I’m listening to Mexican station Noti Gape Frontera Chica as I type this!
Penpals might seem like something from the past, but you don’t need to get out the pen and paper anymore – there are a lot of organisations which can find you email penpals, as well as traditional penpals.
Starting a writing relationship with a native speaker, is a great way to practise using new vocabulary or grammar, & begin a new friendship. Our favourites: 1. mylanguageexchange.com – penpal language exchange; 2. globalpenfriends.com – huge penpal database; 3. writeaprisoner.com if you’d like to get in touch with US prisoners who would like penpals.
Use Newspapermap.com to search the globe for local newspapers and practise your reading in a foreign language, as well as getting up to date with current affairs!
Watching foreign movies is another way to learn new vocabulary, and improve your listening skills without feeling like you are doing any hard work. Depending on your level, you can choose to watch and English film with foreign subtitles, a foreign film with English subtitles, A foreign film with foreign subtitles, or if you are feeling adventurous: a foreign film with no subtitles.
Netflix has plenty of foreign films and subtitle options, as does Amazon prime and other competitors.
PS I know Netflix isn’t free, but you can sign up for a free 30 day trial, or borrow your friend’s account 😉
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