Besides travel and photography, another big hobby of mine is learning foreign languages. During the last few years online learning tools have become more and more prominent in everyday life. What’s even better, a lot of them are free! Websites like these are still taking their first steps into the world wide web. Most are still (partly) operating in Beta versions, but they are all worth giving a try. I’ll give you my word! More and more language learning websites have been popping up everywhere and they all have their own particular features. Below I’ve listed and explained my top 3 free language learning websites. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll be able to determine which website will suit your needs and preferences best.
The Best Free Language Learning Websites
The absolute best option for me is Duolingo. Duolingo started with an invite-only system, but quickly opened itself up to the general public. Duolingo’s best feature is the way in which their method doesn’t just focus on broadening your vocabulary. As you improve your skills in a succesfully gamified ‘skill tree’ that measures fluency, those words are (sometimes very humorously) incorporated into increasingly complex sentences. This trains your ability to form actual sentences (very important) and keeps your vocabulary as active as possible.
Duolingo was of vital support during all of my French and Spanish language courses at university. Just practicing for 30 minutes everyday helped me form my sentences much faster, simply because I was using the language on a everyday basis. This saved me A LOT of time during my written exams. It also significantly reduced awkward silences during my oral exam. Another big advantage: Duolingo offers courses in an impressive range of languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Danish, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, and Russian. Duolingo is constantly adding new languages, so keep an eye on their courses.
→ Visit Duolingo
Another prime example of successful free language learning websites is Memrise. The website launched in September 2010 and focused on three “ingredients”. The first is science, particularly brain science. As its name would suggest, Memrise aims to make most of your memories while learning a language. Its focal point are “mems”; really any kind of mnemonic to help you form a connection to newly learned vocabulary, which users themselves submit and are subsequently voted up or down by the community, linking back to the second ingedient of “community”.
The other ingedient is “fun”. Memrise utilises a friendly and quirky system of “planting [new] seeds”, which are then “grown in the garden” until they are ready to be “harvested” into your long-term memory (where they have to be watered from time to time). From Japanese to Portuguese, Memrise pretty much covers it all with a diverse range of courses. The interface and general look is easy on the eyes. A slight disadvantage of its format might be the emphasis on vocabulary lists (bigger lists tend to load a lot longer as well), meaning grammar and other linguistic aspects are not really touched upon as much when learning a language at Memrise.
Instreamia (previously StudyStream) is my least favourite website among these three, but hey, it still made the top 3! I have to say that I find Instreamia a lot less user friendly, especially compared to Memrise and Duolingo. Its ways are simply not as straightforward. At the same time, this is also its biggest advantage. Instreamia leaves a lot of room to adjust your language tool to your own personal preferences. You are able to choose your own (music) videos and articles in the language you are aiming to learn, from which you will practice listening, comprehension, and grammar. So even though Instreamia may not be right at the top of my list, it might still be the perfect tool for you. Instreamia offers English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Italian.
→ Visit Instreamia
Which free language learning websites will you be using?
(Note: This post is not sponsored in any way and based on first-hand experience).