25+ Free Rapid Language Learning Resources

 

You want to start immersing yourself into a new, foreign language to soak up as much of the local culture as you can when you get there. You want to be able to flirt in Dutch, chat with your business partner in Chinese, or ask for a coffee in Spanish. 

Maybe you only have 3-6 months until you’ve landed in your new country, ready to meet new friends and experience the local secrets. That’s not a whole lot of time, but it’s enough to get you primed for becoming conversational after you arrive.

Here is a comprehensive list of courses, communities, blogs, exchanges and more to help you on your rapid language journey.

If I have missed anything, definitely let me know in the comments and I’ll add it in! If at any time in the future these links become less useful, also let me know and I’ll remove them.

Courses

1. Duolingo – This is my favorite for starting out in a new language. The course is free and acts like a game. You can now use your new-found language skills on useful things like website translations after you’ve gained basic knowledge. Duolingo is perfect for productive procrastination or if you need to take a break from a work task.

2. Foreign Service Institute – These are FSI, DLI and Peace-Corps courses. There are also some tutorials to help learners to import vocabulary lists, to digitalize documents into modifiable content, and to record lists of words/phrases.

3. The Omniglot intro to languages has a great first overview of many languages, and follows it up with links to courses and other tools for that language.

4. BBC’s languages – mini-introductions to almost 40 different languages.

5. Internet polyglot – courses to help you memorize words for many languages.

6. Open Culture – They offer up to 48 languages you can learn sourced from Spotify to iTunes to Audible.

Language Exchanges

Speaking practice is a part of language that often gets neglected with self-study, but it’s an essential skill. Also, native speakers can offer valuable tips about pronunciation and colloquial speech. 

7. Verbling – it takes the model of “Chat Roulette” and puts a language learning spin on it. You get the chance to chat for 5 minutes with a native speaker as long as you also help them with their language learning.

8-9. Couchsurfing and Meetup.com– they both have great meet-ups in real life to practice languages. You can also use Couchsurfing to search your community per language for the city you are in.

10-12. My Language ExchangeInterpals, or conversationexchange.com – find partners in your area for one-on-one practice.

Vocabulary Learning

13. Memrise – Memorize the one hundred most common words in the language you are attempting to learn, as Tim Ferriss would suggest. Memrise is my go-to for online flashcards.

14. Ankiweb – You can make decks of the most important words in a language you're learning from a huge database. 

15. Quizlet - I used to use this in school and loved it. It is another flashcard based site with lots of language specific decks.

16. Learning With Texts – You can input text you find somewhere online and then be able to click words for translations, adding them to an ever growing personal database of words you know and being able to export that to use in a flashcard program.

 

Language Learning Forums/Online Groups

17. Fluent in 3 months forum – A very active language learning forums online, with over 20,000 members. It's perfect for talking to experienced language learners for tips and encouragement.

18. How to learn any language forum – Learn more about the technical aspects of language learning, or mastering the language, or the linguistic theory of language learning. Most people here have a tech background, so if that appeals to you then this is likely for you.

19. Polyglots – A Facebook group with almost 30,000 polyglots, polyglot aspirants, language enthusiasts, word nerds, and general foreign-language addicts. Make sure you read the rules before posting. ;)

 

Practice Talking to A Native Speaker

20. Forvo - great site for hearing pronunciation by a native speaker. They have a huge database covering many languages that you can search and get an instant answer.

21. Rhinospike – hear how an entire sentence or even a couple of short paragraphs are pronounced by a native speaker. 

22. Lang 8 – you can write text in a particular language, and pretty soon have natives look over it and give you great feedback. You can really improve your writing skills with this. 

 

Language Blogs/Articles

23. Subreddits are usually the best place for studying linguistics and language learning. The language learning subreddit and the linguistics subreddit share tools and articles to help you level up your study game. 

You can also use Stumbleupon this way and set it to the linguistics category. 

24. Universe of Memory– Bartosz Czekala helps young professionals save precious time by boosting their memory skills, particularly in language learning.

25. How To Learn Any Language And Never Forget It– By far one of my favorite Tim Ferriss posts on languages, this was co-written by polyglot master Gabriel Wyner. The approach is to learn about what you care about, and as straight-forward as that might sound it changed everything for my language learning personalization. 

 

Books

26. WikiMedia Commons Wikibooks– You can find free PDFs to learn German, French, Spanish, and Chinese (Mandarin),   This is perfect for beginners who want a quick understanding of the language before diving into courses like Duolingo.

27. 4Elisa – free 220-page book to learn Italian.

28. MyKorean – 2-part book series on all learning Korean in comic book form.

 

If I have missed anything, definitely let me know in the comments and I’ll add it in! If at any time in the future these links become less useful, also let me know and I’ll remove them.