Beyond Rosetta Stone: 20 Free Online Resources for Learning a Foreign Language

Whether you’re looking to get in tune with your heritage, traveling to an exotic locale or looking for a simple way to keep your mind sharp, learning a foreign language is a skill that will always come in handy (or at least look impressive). With online resources for nearly every language under the sun, with time and effort, you can learn a new language while sitting in front of your computer screen.

Many sites offer lessons for download, which means you can put a foreign language on your MP3 player and implement the new language between computer sessions. As is always the case with learning something new, consistency is key when mastering a new language. Though the resources are free, you want to make the most of your time by keeping up with lessons and utilizing the language anytime you can such as in a restaurant or while traveling.

Free Foreign Language Resources for Mastering a New Language

These sites provide help for beginners looking to master a new language. While learning a new language online is not impossible, keep in mind it will take time especially if you are busy with school and work. The great thing about free online foreign language resources is you can keep up with them as much or as little as you’d like, but it’s best you visit the language and practice at least three times a week to truly master it for the long haul.

  1. Babel Nation: This interactive site is like being in a classroom learning a new language, only it’s free! Babel Nation offers French, German, Italian, Portugese and Spanish lessons, including oral help and exams that are submitted and automatically graded by the website. To enhance comprehension skills, there Babel Nation has picture games that ensure this site works for every type of student.
  2. World English: The ideal site for those looking to learn English. English is one of the most difficult languages to master as an adult, and this site is jam packed with vocabulary tests, thoroughly explains things like synonyms and antonyms and gives a timeline to explain tenses. Check out the English assessment test to find out where you are in the language and the next step should be to master the language. There’s also a helpful reference section for the top 100 misspelt words and top 100 verbs.
  3. 200 Words a Day: If you are a visual learner who quickly picks up things they see, consider this site for learning a new language. Humorous drawings create a mental image of what a word or phrase means. The site offers Spanish, French, German and Welsh. This is also a great resource for students who are currently taking a class, but need a quick, fun tutorial to keep words fresh on their mind before an oral exam.
  4. Word 2 Word: This site sorts free online foreign language resources by language, so you can sort through what’s available in the language you’re looking to master. While the heavy hitters like Spanish and French are available, there’s also less common languages such as Somali and Yiddish.
  5. 123 Teach Me: 123 Teach Me offers free Spanish language resources. Going beyond the basics of a language, this site also shows you grammatical lessons and has foreign language lessons for kids. There’s also a handy text translator where you can enter a word and have it automatically translated. There’s also a separate area for medical terms in Spanish.
  6. Web German: The title may have you thinking this site is only fit for German, but it’s actually holds links to free online learning resources for languages like Hebrew, Thai and yes, German. One of the most interesting features is links to foreign radio stations that can be accessed at any time to see just how much you’ve learned. Practicing your new language by watching foreign television shows and listening to the radio are great tools for speaking.
  7. ILUSS: Simple Italian for beginners, this site allows users to learn the basic of the language for free before committing to (and by that, we mean paying for) intermediate and advanced classes online. The good thing is, there’s plenty to learn if you know nothing of the Italian language and it will be a simple language to pick up if you are already fluent in Spanish or French. One plus about this site is there’s nothing to download. Simply click the lesson and you’re on your way to learning basic Italian.
  8. Ask Oxford: Ask Oxford offers Spanish, French, German and Italian learning resources. There are interactive lessons and sections devoted to utilizing your new language in the work place with CV and email examples. The site also focuses on writing, which means you’ll be fluent in your desired language and able to communicate in many ways. Download the lessons and you’ll begin your journey to learning a new language in just minutes.
  9. BBC Languages: This is one of the best places to learn a myriad of languages, ranging from Portuguese to Greek. For those looking for some of the most commonly used languages on the planet such as Spanish and French, there are 12 week courses that help users master the beginner level of the respective languages. The video and audio courses will be beneficial to those learning a new language, and the site also links to BBC affiliates around the world to see the channel in action in the language you’re looking to conquer.

Free Online Resources for Quick Conversations and Travel

Need to know the surface ins-and-outs of a language before you travel? Check out these sites for go-to phrases that are needed in different languages and videos to help you master the pronunciation of words. There’s also useful information on gestures, which are just as important as the language when visiting a foreign land.

  1. Phrase Base: Focusing on memorization and key phrases is the goal of this site. Users come from around the globe and are able to interact with each other on the site’s networking feature. The focus is conversational foreign language, so this is a great site for those who love to travel and want to know phrases commonly used in their destination.
  2. Single Serving: If you’re hitting the road to visit multiple foreign countries, consider this site your best friend. Single Serving allows you to print a four page booklet with that contains over 100 key words and phrases. From there, select languages have accompanying audio that users can listen to after downloading for free.
  3. Open Culture: This site is perfect for those with a busy lifestyle who want to get a taste of a new language and gradually learn words and phrases. The site has lessons you can download to your MP3 player so the commute to work or cleaning up around the house suddenly become an educational experience from another culture.
  4. About French: Headed to Paris for a week? This site has videos for simple phrases that will get you around France without looking like a total newbie, but removes the hectic guesswork of attempting to learn a new language before your big trip. There’s also a guide on gestures, which is helpful when traveling to a foreign country. For those looking to get a solid feel for the language, there’s a nifty lesson that tells you the best ways to learn French depending on your age and location.
  5. Phonetiks.org: The “instant sound” feature on this site gives you access to the correct pronunciation of words in nine languages, which will prove to be incredibly useful the next time you’re stuck in a taxi abroad. What is neat about is site, is it offers the sounds in American English first (helpful, if this is your native tongue) and then proceeds with a foreign language word that utilizes that same sound. This simple learning style makes picking up new words a snap.

Free Online Resources for Companion Learning with a Language Class

Aimed at educators or those currently taking or looking to enroll in a foreign language class, these sites serve as companion tools and can also be utilized for those looking to brush up on a certain language before traveling. These sites have resources like quizzes and flashcards, which will make picking up a new language a snap.

  1. Apples 4 the Teacher: Ideal for teachers who want to implement a foreign language in their classroom or for ESL teachers seeking additional material. This site also has a complete list of American sign language finger spelling, along with flashcards you can download to quiz yourself as you learn and practice the gestures.
  2. Internet Polyglot: Learn everything from Spanish to Croatian on this free language website. This site prides itself on a system that allows users to learn a new language in a fun, playful way. To do this, Internet Polyglot has implemented a system of games familiar to those who play computer games. The site allows users to customize their foreign language lessons by selecting the word language and translation language, which will make it easier to learn a new language quickly.
  3. Vista Wide: This site includes resources for studying abroad to be immersed in a language and discusses career opportunities for those who are multi-lingual. Functions like the free online verb conjugators make this site a standout for those looking to learn a new language while feeling confident in accessible tools that will help them along the way.
  4. Vocabulix: If you’re looking to brush up on a language or an extra tool to help you as you learn a new language, look to Vocabulix for a quick site that boasts features like conjugation tables and verbal drills. Grammar tips revolving around English are helpful for those still getting comfortable with the language and a networking feature allows users to interact as they learn new words and phrases.
  5. Elf Worksheets: For those looking for at-home worksheets and online lessons while learning the English language, this site offers a bevy of resources that will help you master the language quickly. With all languages, practice makes perfect, but this is especially true of English. Elf Worksheets divides the starter stages into beginner and elementary, ensuring users thoroughly comprehend the language before moving on to the next level.
  6. My Language Exchange: If you’re learning a new language, what better way to enhance your skills than by practicing with a native speaker? My Language Exchange allows users around the world to interact with a partner who is learning their native tongue, while they verbally practice their new language with the partner. It’s a simple concept that will help you take your foreign language skills to the next level and is the closest thing to visiting the native land of your desired language.