Many people today are realizing the importance of knowing more than one language, whether it be for business, better employment opportunities, or just a better view of the Global Village in which we live. Many people, however, also find it difficult to learn a new language because of the busy lifestyle they lead, others may find the relatively high price of the established language learning products prohibitive. Whatever the reason, it should not mean that they should ignore the idea of learning a language completely. There are options out there for every aspiring linguist whatever their time schedule, their previous knowledge, or more importantly, their budget.
So are there any language courses that are free?
There are many free language courses scattered throughout the internet but some are certainly better than others. Many are okay if used as a reference for vocabulary but not for much more as they are often hastily put together and contain limited useful information. Amongst these, however, there are some gems to be found: Websites which are free (or with enough free content to make them qualify as such) and have useful, quality, and above all effective educational content. Many free resources (including the mediocre or plain bad) are language specific—which means that each site will cater for a single language—but there are some sites which offer content for many different languages and these are the ones we want to look at as they cover a larger language base.
If you are looking for solely audio content to practice your listening or even your pronunciation you should look at podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to receive and listen to language learning audio courses or foreign language ロゼッタストーン content easily through your personal mp3 player. There are many free language learning podcasts available and can be found with a simple search. Many will automatically send you daily or weekly lessons which you can then upload to an mp3 player or burn to CD. Itunes is still one of the best places to start looking for podcasts.
These are the courses that many people are looking for when they want free language courses-online, software that they can use at their own pace but will not cost any money. The two free online language courses that I would recommend are MangoLanguages.com and LiveMocha.com. Both are very different, but both are free. Mango languages does have a premium section as well, but its free course takes you halfway, which they claim will allow you to learn 1100 words—not bad for free.
Mango is essentially a phrase-building and structure course where they build your vocabulary slowly by showing the English and giving the translation both audio and written. If the alphabet is non-Roman then the foreign script is shown with the transliterated version available by hovering over each word. Another nice touch is the colour coding: Mango gives each phrase part a colour so you can match it to its translated counterpart and see how the sentence is structured. You can learn 1100 words very easily with Mango Languages so it is well worth a visit.
LiveMocha should be a must-join for every language learner, even those who have the best premium language courses. This is because Mocha has two very important parts: It has a learning section and a community section. The learning section is great for all you free-seekers out there as it is very reminiscent of the Rosetta Stone learning style with vocabulary being built up through the use of pictures. It allows you to check your listening, your reading, and even your speaking and writing through the help of other members of the community, and this is where LiveMocha becomes invaluable. The program allows you to team up with native speakers of your chosen language and practice with them. They will help you with your writing, your pronunciation and generally help you with learning their language. Even if you have every language product under the Sun, you should join LiveMocha for the community.
These are only a few ways of learning a language without breaking the bank and they are extremely useful. There may well be many more out there which are equally or even more effective at helping you learn a language. You should, however, remember that free language courses can never fully take the place of a tried and tested premium language course, and if you can afford at least one and are serious about learning a language, then you should look into which language course would be the best for you. Free language courses do have their place though and can be excellent companions to your other learning materials.