We live in a world where you can easily learn a language for free.
But, without the structure of formal classes, how can you make sure your language learning endeavours are successful?
Better still, how can you do it on the move, however busy you are?
Here to tell us how, is guest author Andrew Howe!
By the way, several of the strategies Andrew mentions are also what I teach in my courses, where you through StoryLearning®, a fun and effective method that gets you fluent thanks to stories, not rules. Find out more and claim your free 7-day trial of the course of your choice.
Take it away, Andrew…
That is what I often hear from my friends.
I don't believe in lack of time (besides, the inconsistency villain is the real issue here, not a lack of time).
No matter how busy you are, there is always some spare time to do something…if you want it badly enough. And what's not to like about learning languages for free?
Learning a language doesn’t mean spending several hours a day hitting the books.
In the digital era, there are many ways to study languages on the go.
As a traveling student who has been to 20 countries, I'll share the best of these tips in this article!
How to Learn Another Language for Free in 7 Steps
Your phone is not just about taking selfies, writing messages, and calling friends when you're bored. Your phone is a “skills machine”.
Phones are about optimising your lifestyle, and you can use them to learn a new language for free, without the need to be in a classroom.
So, if you're wondering how to learn a new language for free, look no further than the square of metal in your pocket!
You just need to learn how to use your phone the right way.
To do so, we need to look at how we can approach language learning across the four skills…
All the above-mentioned skills are equally important for language learners, and you can use your phone to master them without spending much time and money.
As most people own smartphones, you can take advantage of the explosion of language apps to learn your target language on the go.
Gain knowledge, master skills, and start speaking a foreign language well…all from your phone!
1. Write A Lot
As a teacher, I know how to avoid most common writing mistakes in English…
But I have no idea how to improve my writing skills in other languages. The only one thing I've learned over the years is that you need to write.
One of the best ways to do this is to write creative texts in your target language, which expands your vocabulary (with the help of a dictionary), and develops creative thinking.
The key to success is to develop a writing habit, and using your phone can help you a lot.
You can either download apps like Evernote or use Notes on your phone. The main idea is to grab your phone and start writing whenever inspiration strikes!
Some tips how to write more with your phone:
- Write email drafts. If you have a foreign client or a friend, write down some ideas to use in an email later. Having a rough draft can help you hone writing skills without spending much time.
- Describe what you love. Are you fond of nature, art, or cooking? Try to describe what you've just tried. Don't be focused on the quality of your writing: write everything that comes to your mind.
- Edit and proofread with apps. Although you might know about Grammarly (a tool that highlights grammar mistakes), you can search for writing apps in your target language to help you write better.
The more you write, the better you get at writing.
Writing is a process, and includes putting ideas on paper, formatting, editing, and proofreading, and you can practice this wherever you are.
2. Use Free Language Exchange Sites
If you want to start speaking a foreign language, you need to overcome your fear, and there is no better way than to communicate with native speakers of your target language online.
First of all, people can be less inhibited online, so it might be easier for you to communicate. Moreover, you won't be afraid of getting marked down for spelling mistakes!
Plus, it is a good way to expand vocabulary as you'll be listening to native speakers, with their full range of expression!
Don't hesitate to ask for explanations if you have some doubts in understanding. That's a normal part of learning languages.
A great app for getting in touch with native speakers, and an easy way for learning a foreign language for free is with HelloTalk.
You could also try finding a conversation buddy with an app like Tandem. It's a casual way to talk with someone who can hold you accountable in your language learning process.
3. Listen More
Another idea that works well for me is using songs to learn languages.
To be honest, I'm a music lover, and even though I don't have an ear for music, I sing a lot wherever I am. As I improve in my languages, I can make out what my favourite bands are singing about, which is a great feeling!
Listening to foreign musicians helps you pay attention to the words and enhance your listening comprehension skills.
Plus, there is a big variety of audiobooks on the web, and you can download interesting titles with ease.
Obviously, you won't be able to stay focused all day long while listening to audiobooks, but if you have short sessions, it's more likely you can obtain additional knowledge and master listening skills.
4. Read As Much As You Can
Are you fond of reading? Reading, especially reading stories, is what StoryLearning® is all about.
If reading is high on your list, try to learn a new language with books and articles.
Although reading classic literature in original might be a hard thing to do, especially if you're just starting out, there are many articles published daily on the web – a great approach free language learning.
Sign up to newsletters of your favourite websites, and read their content when you have time.
You can use apps like Pocket to save interesting articles for later!
5. Watch Movies
Although people are arguing whether watching movies is a good way to improve your language skills, everyone would agree that it is a great opportunity to entertain and take a break.
It's nearly impossible to catch everything when you're watching a foreign language movie for 2 hours, but you don't need to understand everything in order to benefit.
What's more, TV and movies can fit very neatly into your free time.
For example, why not watch your favourite TV series next time you're on the exercise bike at the gym? Watch free foreign movies on YouTube, Netflix also has movies in many different languages.
As a result, you won't even need to track the time you spend on cardio… it's free language learning and painless exercise in one go!
Even if you can't understand the plot 100%, you can hear some familiar words and understand how to pronounce them correctly.
6. Take Free Online Language Courses
If being focused on one particular skill is not for you, explore the alternative ways of learning languages that cover all skills in one. I'm talking about MOOCs!
MOOCs (massive open online courses) are aimed at providing people with high-quality education from the world's best universities. There are dozens of free foreign language courses on these websites.
Check out the best providers for E-Learners:
Once you pick up the course you're interested in, complete it in your spare time. Of course, you can access the course from your phone, so you can study wherever you may be!
Hint: Take the time to introduce yourself to other learners – it can be a good way to make friends.
7. Download a Language Learning App
If the dozens of free language learning websites out there feel overwhelming, why not try an app?
If your goal is to learn as much vocabulary as possible, in a short amount of time, you can check out the free apps like Duolingo or Babbel. The apps are very useful for quick learning on the go but keep in mind their teaching methods are limited.
While apps aren't necessarily the best way to learn a language for free, they will help you get started.
Start to Learn a Language For Free
As the digital era makes it easier than ever to learn a language for free, why not give it a try?
To succeed with foreign languages, you need to put down your goals:
- What do I want to do?
- Why do I need to learn languages?
- What can I achieve with this knowledge?
- What is my daily minimum?
- How can I measure my success?
Once you define your goals, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!
Getting started is often the hardest part… but it's much easier when you find things that work for you.
If you have a passion for learning foreign languages, you will make efforts to train your skills, no matter how busy you are.
While there's no best way to learn a new language for free, a combination of the methods in this post will help you learn faster.
What methods have you used for learning a language for free? Share your experiences in the comments below.
About the Author
Andrew Howe is a student at Queens University of Charlotte, who has been traveling around the globe for many years. You can contact Andrew via email: andrewhowe306 [at] gmail.com