With so many ways to learn languages; from websites to mobile apps to software from big companies such as Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur; the list can become a bit tiresome and tricky to navigate for exactly what we’re looking for.
For many of us, the bigger name products just aren’t enough.
It’s important for us to diversify our learning strategies as much as possible and that means reaching out for as many new resources as possible.
Here I’ve provided you with a short list of 8 extremely cheap or free language tools you may not have heard of so you can do just that.
Check it out!
*EDIT: Lingua.ly has closed its doors and the app is no longer available. This makes me very sad : (
Lingua.ly is a really neat web app/extension for Google Chrome that allows you to ‘acquire’ words of your choosing in the language you’re learning by double clicking them in any article, web page or social media site you may come across in your day to day Internet surfing.
The words are then stored in your personal cloud and used to create a learning profile for you based on the average difficulty of the words you select. Based on the words you selected and are having difficulty with, Lingua.ly will find news articles for you that are scaled to your own reading comprehension level.
By further using the app you will better refine its ability to create custom content just for you.
Lingua.ly also comes with a flashcards feature that allows you to review your words in flashcard format if you’re looking for a quick study session.
You can read my full review of Lingua.ly here.
Parleremo is a highly entertaining website and language learning community that allows members to study a truly impressive selection of over 60 languages ranging from Assamese to Maori and even Gothic!
In this community new members are prompted to select a language that they want to focus on (you can learn more than one!) and then ‘live’ in a virtual town devoted to fostering language learning and interpersonal comunication. Users move into a house in a virtual neighborhood broken up by individual languages, and entire language families.
Learners can then explore the town, meeting other language learners and communicating via voice chat, IRC, forums, a personal journal and more.
It even has its own monthly magazine, produced by Scriveremo Publishing that covers a plethora of language related topicSo if you’re in the market for some new language learning real estate, check out Parleremo here!
I’m learning Russian, so I moved into a house at улица Лермонтова 7 in the Russian quarter of the Slavic district. Come say привет!
You can read a much more detailed review of Parleremo here.
Learning a new language can be a complicated and often intimidating process. There’re so many questions, unique to our own learning experiences, that often go unanswered by simple Google searches or that aren’t really covered in our classrooms.
Despite the capabilities of the Internet some of us still struggle to find native speakers with whom we can connect and learn from.
An awesome mobile app called Linqapp bridges the gap between confusion and understanding. This really fun little community program allows users to dialogue with real life native speakers and ask questions about the languages they’re studying.
Linqapp won’t teach you a language in and of itself and must be used in tandem with other resources – which you should be doing anyway – but what it will do is help connect you to a world of other learners and seek clarification on all of the little grammatical devices, pronunciation complications and general bewilderment that arises from learning a new tongue.
Furthermore, Linqapp has been so generous as to offer LATG subscribers 3 months of VIP membership worth about $27 USD. Linqapp is free to use, but VIP membership unlocks additional features.
You can read a full review of Linqapp here.
Colango is – similar to Parleremo minus the urban development – a social media mobile app dedicated to fostering communications between language learners. In the spirit of major networks such as Facebook and Twitter; Colango presents users with a news feed that shows them updates by friends and other individuals that they “follow”.
Colango members create and share small language lessons with one another. These are usually extremely short snippets of language learning goodness that often take only a few seconds. I found that these mini lessons were far more effective than I originally expected.
5. Free eBooks.
You don’t need a mobile device to access a wide range of free language learning eBooks; all you need is your computer and you can start learning the old fashioned way – one page at a time.
Directories, such as this one, exist to provide prospective learners with a wide variety of language materials ranging from Dutch to Esperanto to Ancient Greek.
If you own a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Kindle app – you don’t have to buy an actual Kindle. The Kindle store offers a variety of free (or extraordinarily cheap) novels, childrens’ stories and language learning books available instantly.
The app is also available in a desktop version and syncs your library via cloud across all devices, be they iOS, Android or Windows.
If eBooks aren’t really your style, many learners often forget about the enormous collection of always free resources located at their local libraries. Some libraries even offer the use of language programs such as Rosetta Stone or The Pimsleur Approach as well.
6. Dirty Everyday Slang Books.
Continuing our theme of books – the Dirty Everyday slang series consists of some hilarious compilations of less than savory terminology that every language learner should know and rarely if ever use!
This series consists of a wide range of languages including Hungarian and even sign language. Some languages even come with a workbook that allows you to really go all out.
The books, available both in hard copy and Kindle format are not free, but I have yet to see one cost more than $8.00 USD and I highly recommend them.
This is an affiliate link, which means if you do end up buying anything I get a few pennies.
7. Language Transfer.
Language Transfer is an independent language teaching organization based in the Middle East with various operations around the world. Besides offering free and paid workshops to those able to attend at their various locations, LT also offers some free language learning resources for a small but growing selection of languages.
LT employs a learning technique known as “The Thinking Method” that attempts to do away with the idea of rote memorization being a good tactic for language learning. You can read all about Language Transfer and their methodology here.
Currently, Language Transfer offers Greek and Spanish audio and textbook courses that can be downloaded at their site or streamed via Soundcloud and Youtube.
8. LATG Podcast Directory
What use would we be if we didn’t at least try to create a resource of our own? LATG has a page tab, located at the top of the site that links to a compilation of YouTube and video channels from various polyglots, linguists and language enthusiasts in a multitude of languages.
The list is still relatively small, but I’m interested in adding more names and links to the list! So besides taking advantage of the collection, consider sending us links to your favorite YouTube channels or podcasts, or even your own work if you maintain your own channel!
We’d love to add them!
Learning a language shouldn’t cost you money and you shouldn’t be stuck with only the big name products. Check out some – or all – of these great resources and build upon your collection of language accessories.
What are some other language learning tools that you like to use? Leave some more in the comments!
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