Learning a language online

Once upon a time, if you wanted to learn a foreign language, you were restricted to instructional books, expensive classes or by simply throwing yourself in the deep-end on an overseas trip. Luckily for us, technological advancements have allowed the goal of a new language to be ticked off many a bucket list. Whether you’re planning international travel or just want a challenge, these handy online options will help put you on the fast track to fluency.

Websites and apps
Duolingo is a popular platform for learning the foundations of a foreign language, with a clean, easy-to-follow design and interactive, incentive-based teaching style. Downloading the app to your smartphone makes it easy to learn on the go. For a more comprehensive stockpile of languages, try Learn a Language, BBC Languages or the US Government’s Foreign Services Institute database. The design of these sites may be more austere, but they each carry a wealth of information.

Online communities
Commitment and practice are essential when trying to absorb a new language, so what better way to combine the two than with a study buddy? Interpals is a free platform that matches penpals from all over the world, allowing you to practice whichever language you’re learning. Just be careful about giving out any personal information. Other free online communities include Busuu, Lang-8 and Italki, which also have learning resources.

If you’re a little further advanced, listening to podcasts in your language of choice can be a great ‘immersion’ technique. Here are ten of the best.

Have you used technology to learn another language? What have you found to be most effective?

Written by Louise Baxter


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