We can see it now. You have a burning desire to learn another language, but you’re afraid about how much it’s going to cost. It’s a common problem, and undoubtedly a source of frustration for many who have a passion for languages but feel they can’t act on those desires. Well, we have excellent news for you. There is actually a real treasure trove of free language learning resources out there that you can use when you’re on a budget!

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Background: A Strategy for Learning a Language on a Budget

If you do find yourself a bit strapped for cash but ready and willing to start a new language learning project, then a great way to do this is first to find an online native speaker tutor who can teach you for at least 1 hour a week. Making the classes online will help keep the price lower, and also allow you more flexibility on your class time since you won’t have to factor in any travel time.

Once you’ve secured your online classes --- as many hours per week as you can afford --- you should be sure to prepare thoroughly for each lesson by reviewing the previous class’s material, and then taking every opportunity you can to speak and ask questions during class. After class, you should turn to some or all of the following resources to boost your learning and expand your knowledge base:

Free Language Resource #1: Mobile Apps

Have you tried out a smartphone app for language learning yet? It’s a pretty crowded marketplace, but there are some standout apps that are suitable for most learners, such as Duolingo and Memrise. The former includes a website and app that can be used in conjunction, and they offer a digital language proficiency test for users to take after learning to see how they’ve progressed. The latter uses flashcard games to try and make learning more fun.

These are free to download and use on your phone, and make a perfect learning tool for any time of the day you have a spare 10 minutes or so and want to get some practice in.

Free Language Resource #2: Social Media Channels

All of the world’s biggest social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram operate globally and therefore are available with content from all corners of the world. Find influencers whose native language is your target language and follow their content. Join their live streams to listen to the talk, or just read their tweets and posts as a way to practice reading and comprehension.

Social media is a large and still sprawling network of content. While there may be a lot of useless garbage out there, you just have to keep sifting through it until you can find the real content gems!

Free Language Resource #3: Your Local Library

It may seem a little old-fashioned, but your local library is actually still an excellent language-learning resource. Not only do they have tons of great online resources these days, but they may also have foreign language books and novels that more advanced learners can use to really broaden their horizons and deepen their connection with their target language.

Free Language Resource #4: Foreign Language News Media

News media is terrific for practice, and so much of it is freely available online for you to bring up on your phone, laptop, or tablet device. Yes, some of the more premium sources do come with a pay wall like The Wall Street Journal, for instance. However, if you’re just looking for some reading material to do 10-20 minutes a day of practice, then you’ll find something.

A good place to start is the homepage of the national media of whatever country’s language you are learning. Here are some examples:

● English - BBC News
● Korean - TV Chosun
● German - Der Spiegel Online
● …to name but a few…

Use these sources to pull up a piece to read over breakfast, or while you’re on the bus or metro going to or from work. Alternatively, you can watch their video reports either on their own website, or on YouTube.

Free Language Resource #5: YouTube!

For language learners wanting to find video content in just about every language under the sun, YouTube is the absolute king of free resources. There are hundreds of channels, some dedicated specifically to second-language learning, but for those who want more natural material, there are channels and videos in so many languages.

YouTube claimed back in 2015 that the varied language content caters to about 95 percent of their users’ mother tongue or preferred language. Find news reports, personal vlogs, entire documentaries and films, TV clips and episodes…every video media you could ever need to supplement your language learning.

Free Language Resource #6: Podcasts

Finally, for an audio version of the kind of variety that YouTube offers, one only need look as far as their preferred Podcast hosting platform. Learning Italian? Try “Coffee Break Italian.” Learning Chinese? Try “Slow Chinese.” You’re bound to find great (and 100% free) audio materials on there for you to listen and really get your intellectual juices flowing.


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