Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Free Foreign Language Learning Online

If you are interested in learning a foreign language or if you are looking for foreign language materials to use in the classroom, you may want to consider checking into some of the free courses that are now being offered online by colleges, universities, and other learning institutions. Although these courses do not grant college credit or degrees, they do provide students with excellent instruction in foreign languages. Some of the organizations that currently provide free foreign language learning online include:


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers thousands of free online courses through their Open Courseware Program. The free foreign language courses provide instruction in Chinese, German, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Courses are also available to help students explore various cultures and literature. Most courses include audio, video, and text components.

Carnegie Mellon University

Students can take two different foreign language courses online through Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative. The first course introduces students to the French language. The second course picks up where the first course left off to teach students intermediate language skills. Both video-based courses are free and include multiple lessons.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame offers several free online courses for self-learners. One of the most popular courses delves into the language of Haitian Kreyol, or Creole. The course also explores Creole culture and beliefs through lectures and readings.

Utah State University

The Languages, Philosophy, and Speech Communication Department of Utah State University has made two free Chinese courses available online through the school's Open Courseware Project. This first course introduces students to the Chinese language and culture. The second course continues the instruction. Both courses focus on pronunciation and simple Chinese character writing.

Open University

The UK's Open University is dedicated to providing high-quality university education to all through its OpenLearn project. Some of the free foreign language courses that can be explored online offer instruction French, Spanish, English, German, and other modern languages. Many of the courses are text-based, though there are a few that also offer audio or video materials.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University offers dozens of free online courses through their Independent Learning program. Most of the courses fall into the religion category. However, there is one English language course designed for Chinese speakers. The course is split into easy-to-follow modules and includes a wide range of self-study materials.


The BBC has an amazing collection of modern language courses on its website. All of the courses can be explored for free online and may be taken at the beginner or intermediate level. The 12-week courses (audio and video) provide instruction in 36 different languages, including French, German, Irish, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, English, Italian, and Welsh. Students who sign up for BBC's free email tips can also receive a certificate at the end of each course.

FSI Language Courses

FSI Language Courses hosts an enormous library of free online courses that were developed by the U.S. government. Each language course was used by the Foreign Service Institute at one point and now resides in public domain. The FSI courses offer instruction in more than 30 languages, including Finnish, French, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Romanian, and Swahili.

Mango Languages

The Mango Languages online learning system has been hailed as one of the best places to learn a foreign language online. More than 30 million people have free and total access to Mango through their local public library. Individuals who do not have access through their library can still try one of ten Mango Language courses for free.


Livemocha is a free social language learning network that offers over 160 hours of beginner and intermediate level language lessons. The site also gives language learners a place to practice structured conversation exercises with a native speaker. Other Livemocha features include a quiz tool and other community-based interactive tools that are designed to make learning fun and rewarding.

Internet Polyglot

The Internet Polyglot is a really good place to find short foreign language lessons online. The site offers free access to everyone and provides numerous ways to memorize words and their meanings. Internet Polyglot also offers a game section to make learning a foreign language more fun. Some of the languages that can be learned on this site include English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

Guest post from Karen Schweitzer who writes for the college database at OnlineColleges.net.


Drew said...

This is a very useful list you have shared with us. Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...


Its really a great work to list all the sources of online learning specially for languages cources.. I was already looking for this...

Thanks for sharing with us

Rone from sejour linguistique australie

Michael Gavry said...

Thank you for the great list! I am the developer of Internet Polyglot and I am happy to see it here. I will always appreciate a good word about it and also a critical feedback, suggestions, etc.