I honestly feel quite insecure every time someone tells me that they can speak more than one language. One of the disadvantages of English being your first language is that you’re more likely to be a “monolingual” unlike countless others around the world who can speak at least two languages—if not more.
What’s more is that in the diverse, multicultural, and relatively global marketplace these days, knowing more than one language always puts you at an advantage in businesses that are not defined by geographic boundaries—which is characteristic of most businesses. Hey, even the United States (within its boundaries) is one of the most multicultural places you can work in today!
With more and more research proving bilinguals are more likely to get a job, earn more, and score better on standardized tests, we’re only wondering what we need to do learn another lingo!
Luckily, unlike the past we don’t have to read through piles of books in a library or take expensive courses to learn a language. Thanks to the internet and the vast array of resources available on various platforms, there are plenty of ways we can do this whenever and where ever we like!
So, here’s a list of 10 platforms where we can not only learn a lingo, but also do it for free!
Duolingo is a fairly new platform that has won several awards including iPhone App of the Year 2013 and Google’s Best of the Best 2014. Currently, it offers lessons on 19 different languages. The platform will take users through a unique experience with a game-like interface where you can earn points, track your days, and get tips on how to improve. The app is available on iPhone, Android and Windows phone, so if you own a Blackberry or Linux-based device, you’ll have to resort to the computer.
Busuu is also a lot like Duolingo, except it offer only 12 languages, but some very unique ones. Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese can be hard to learn and few platforms offer these languages, but Busuu does. Busuu also has a very large community of over 50 million speakers. The great part is that you can easily sign in through your Facebook and Google account. However, the app is only available for Android and Apple devices.
Live Mocha was one of the first online platforms to offer language learning for free since its launch in 2007. One of the coolest things about Livemocha is that it gives you access to natives speakers, teachers, language enthusiasts, and language experts around the world from over 190 countries. The community encourages language learning through interaction, which is excellent! So, you get to practice your conversation with people around the globe through comments on practice exercises, lessons with feedback, text or video chats, and more. The only people who will have a problem with this website are those who transitioned from the old Live Mocha account to the new one.
This platform has also come a long way since its days of basic language learning and reading lessons. Although it has cartoonish, children’s-type interface, it can be used by any language learner of any age — and at any stage of language learner (beginner to advanced). The video on the front page sums up how to use the platform and get started for free. This is a great resource for teachers and classrooms. The only downside is that you won’t get access to unlimited vocabulary or extra features unless you sign up for the premium accounts.
Byki is best if you have a love for flashcards. The platform can be used to learn 74 different languages. Since Byki claims itself to be one of “leading in language research”, it’s easy to understand why they advise against learning a language starting with grammar. Byki focuses on teaching adults vocabulary first since “adults learn foreign languages by collecting words and phrases first”. The free version will get you 15 lists in any language. I’d say this website is worth a try, with the confusing interface being the only downside to the platform.
What this platform offers is pretty simple: a community of native speakers who connect with you and correct what you write. So, clearly, this is a platform for those speakers who are already proficient in writing and reading a foreign language. For example, masters dissertation will help you write in your native language and you can translate it to a foreign language and get it checked on Lang 8.You can return the favor by correcting those who are learning your native language. This one’s best if you’re working on improving how you write in a certain language.
Lingualia is a pretty cool platform that is largely focused on “social networking” for learning a language. One of the best features of Lingualia is the artificially intelligent bot called “Lingu” who will treat you like a student. Lingu will make sure that you improve on areas that are challenging for you and stay motivated to learning your language. For those of you who need consistent motivation, this is a great feature. Even though this platform sadly serves only two languages: English and Spanish, I’d definitely give it a try!
Papora will allow you to register for free and learn English, Spanish, French, or German. Rather than focusing purely on vocabulary, Papora will also incorporate grammar so that you can form proper sentences. The “bite-sized” lessons are very easy with excellent audio. The mobile app takes users through 60 real life situations has over 2,000 keywords and phrases with audio content. This app is great for busy learners!
This is fantastic platform where language leaning is made fun and easy. Digital Dialect is focused on providing users with games to learn a new language with the help of phrases, vocabulary, numbers, spelling, verb conjugations, and alphabets. You’ll need Macromedia Flash to run the website, but I really love how responsive the website is, overall. The downside to using this platform is that it’s not available as an app and most languages cover only basic beginner-level language skills.
Memrise uses three simple ingredients to make it one an effective language learning tool: science, fun, and community. When it comes to science, the team addresses the fact that the brain learns faster with the help of mnemonic flashcards. These flashcards are called “mems” and they help aid retention. With the help of games and videos, learning is also made fun.
Memrise has over 300,000 courses which is pretty extensive and has a large range of languages to choose from. The coolest part is that language is not the only thing you can learn on this website. If you’re also interested in learning more about a specific country’s history, culture, or geography, Memrise will give you a free course on that too! You can get this as an app on Android and Apple devices.
Alright, that pretty much sums up our favorite list of language learning platforms that are available for free! It’s amazing how the increasing demand of bilingualism has also made learning a new language pretty easy. Well, not easy, but pretty convenient nonetheless!