The internet has given us some great opportunities to learn a language and the possibilities for the future are truly staggering. In the past, learning a language required us to buy books and learn on our own (with no audio and no feedback or interaction) or take a class (which can be expensive and inconvenient). But, today the improvements of technology and the accessibility of the internet have given us many more opportunities to improve our language learning experiences, and in many cases, for free.
Of course, learning on your own (or at least supplementing your classroom or tutor study on your own time) requires some self-discipline and motivation. There is no one to tell you what to do but yourself. Try to stick to whatever lesson plan you make for yourself. Keep at it every day and don’t give up. In time, you can give yourself a good foundation in your target language for free.
There are lots of individual websites devoted to a specific language. The more popular languages like French, Spanish and Japanese have a lot of choices for beginning and intermediate students. Even some of the less commonly studied languages have sites with tutorials, free lessons and resources. For the vast majority of languages that you may be interested in studying there is something out there for you, so take a look around.
FSI is one of the great all-time language learning methods. Many of their older courses are now available online for free at FSI Language Courses [http://www.fsi-language-courses.org/]. These courses are free because they were created by the US government and are public domain. Much of the audio is out of date compared to newer (and more expensive) courses, but the method is excellent. It’s a great way to get a free start with learning a language.
The internet abounds with great resource sites like language forums, blogs, penpal sites and podcasts. All of these kinds of resources are excellent complements to your book, tutorial, class or other language method. They provide audio, video, real life vocabulary and interaction with other learners and native speakers.
Don’t forget the library for the most common language books and tape or CD collections. Most libraries have at least introductory language courses on tape or CD. All libraries have extensive books on learning languages. The library is an often-overlooked resource for access to free language learning materials.
Keep at it and use some of the suggestions in this article in small doses to complement a tutorial or other language method. Try adding lots of audio and video to actually hear the language and use forums, blogs and penpals to begin to interact with other learners and speakers.
Combining different approaches can create synergies that enhance the effectiveness of an all-purpose tutorial or language method. Take advantage of these free resources to get the most effective and fun language learning experience possible!