In today’s wonderfully modern age, the only thing you need to learn a language is a decent internet connection.
There are loads of great, online resources out there for language learners at every level – from complete beginner to those simply brushing up their knowledge.
Learning for Free:
With more than 120 million users, Duolingo is one of the most popular online language learning resources out there.
It’s great for competitive types as you play the system like a game – earning points for answers, trying to beat the clock and moving up levels as you progress.
The courses are extremely thorough, focusing not just on vocab but also grammar tips and a wide range of reading materials. With 120 million users, the popularity of the site speaks for itself.
Memrise encourages learning through mnemonics (memory devices) ie using multimedia flashcards to help users remember what they learn.
It’s original, creative and fun. You’ll find courses in over 200 languages and a new grammar chat feature for those who want to go deeper.
In May, Memrise won Best App in the Google Play Awards.
While the website is no longer active, there’s still a lot of useful (and free!) information at BBC Languages.
Browse video tutorials, courses, holiday phrase books and slang guides for 40 different languages.
There’s also useful links for further digging about your destination.
Learning by Paid Subscription:
Rosetta Stone has been in the language business for decades and is probably the most recognisable brand in the field – used by over 22,000 educational institutions.
I invested in a Spanish Rosetta course and found it extremely easy to use with clear instructions, detailed explanations and a nice, steady progression from beginner lessons to the more complex courses.
The website offers a variety of subscriptions, from three months up to 24 months and materials you can access from CD or download.
italki is all about the human connection – setting users up with native speakers so they learn through talking with an online teacher.
Over 100 languages are available and the site uses a system of student ‘credits’ to pay their teachers.
Founded in 2007, Babbel was one of the first language learners on the market.
It now covers 14 languages and has more than a million customers signed up for the app which builds vocab through realistic conversation, audio from native speakers and spaced repetition techniques.
Registration and the first course are free but to access all the materials you’ll need to buy a subscription which are monthly, three monthly, six-monthly or yearly.
Busuu has over 70 million users and 12 different language courses.
The free version gives users access to flashcards only but the paid subscription includes conversations with native speakers, advanced grammar units and official certificates.
The company claims that 22 hours of a Busuu subscription is equivalent to one college semester of language study.