It’s widely known that one of the best ways you can learn another language is immersion- getting balls deep in another culture. If that’s not possible, don’t fret, it is still possible to learn another language. Here are a couple of internet-based helpers for little or no cost.
“News in slow…” podcasts are a great way to improve your listening skills and can be found in quite a few different languages like Spanish, Japanese, Italian, etc. Because it’s based on current events, the broadcasters are speaking about topics that you may have already read or heard about in English which makes them a little easier to follow. Not to mention that they speak at a pace that will seem infuriatingly slow, once you get a little better, but will be highly appreciated in the beginning. Most of these tend to be free and some have written text that you can read along while listening. I like to imagine that the broadcasters are secretly having an affair and flashing their genitals to each other in the recording studio but you know, that’s just me…
Duolingo is one of the best resources I have found in a while. It’s free and has no annoying ads to distract you once you’re in the zone. By creating their learning content from texts, which have been submitted to them to be translated, they’re able to keep the site free. Basically you work for them and in return, receive free tutoring. The site is completely interactive so you don’t get bored and you have the chance to practice both your listening and reading skills as well as translating text from English to your chosen language and vice versa.
If some healthy competition is a useful tool in your learning belt Duolingo allows you to log in with your Facebook account and see the scores of any friends who are also signed up. The colors, sounds and incentives used on this site make you feel more like you’re playing a game than studying.
Mindsnacks is another award winning, game-based app. It’s not free but I found it to be worth the $8 or so that I paid, considering how much time I spent on it. Mindsnacks is very pleasing visually and, like poker machines, has fun, affirming sounds as well as smooth talking tutors. This app is available in 7 different languages as well as a couple of new subjects such as U.S. geography and math.