As everyone knows the best things in life are free and that certainly also applies to free language courses and resources which actually do exist if you know where to look. Naturally here on this blog for the terminally bad at language we’re big fans of free stuff as well and so this article will reveal the secrets on where to get free online and downloadable learning materials for a wide range of languages. Even better is these free downloads are entirely legal so there’s no need to visit any dodgy sites to get them.
FSI or Foreign Service Institute is a US government organization whose purpose is to teach foreign languages to gov. employees such as diplomats working overseas. Fortunately for us, many of their courses are in the public domain and free for everyone to download and use. There are a good number of languages available at various levels however the amount of material for each language varies quite considerably so some will only have a very basic course while others are more comprehensive.
The DLI or to use its full name the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) is, as the name implies, a language training institute primarily for the military. DLI courses come packaged in various formats, for example at the link below you can select ‘PDA’ along with the language you are interested in and you will be presented with several zip files containing training tailored for specific areas such as “Civil Affairs”, “Naval”, “Medical” and others. The download includes a flash application which presents categories with a selection of phrases under each which can be done in any order. Each phrase or word includes an audio file as well as text. Being a military derived system you will learn such essential phrases as “Stop or I will shoot!” and “We are here to help you” which is fun but there are plenty of useful words and phrases for anyone to learn and the flash app makes it simple and effective.
While not actually a course, Anki is an invaluable tool for language learning, or in fact for learning anything, and it is completely free. It is a software application which runs on just about any platform including windows, mac, linux, android, iphone, bsd etc. It is basically a flashcard system – you load it up with decks of ‘cards’ and it will then show you a few every day and it will show you harder to remember words more often until they become easy for you then they appear less often. Even better it provides access to a huge repo of pre-made/shared decks in multiple languages so you can quickly load up several for any language you want and then start learning effortlessly and boosting your vocabulary wherever you are.
The internet is a wonderful and ever growing source of materials and services for students of any subject and there are plenty of resources available with a little googling (or binging if you swing that way), from flashcard decks to language exchanges. Hopefully you will find those linked above useful but don’t limit yourself as there is always more good stuff to find out there so you don’t have to spend money on things like Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone courses. However if you can spare the cash they certainly can help with your language learning journey but using the free FSI and DLI courses can save you money in some cases by allowing you to skip a level in the paid courses.