Five free resources to learn a foreign language

By Natasha Muhametzyanova, Contributing Writer

As a college student, you might experience a summer limbo of sorts: the time when days blur into one continuous Netflix binge. It’s time to press pause on a random show you will forget about in a few days and do something more interactive, something that can keep your brain working. Summer break is the best time to start learning a foreign language.

Admit it, you always felt like you needed an excuse for not knowing one. “My ninth grade Spanish teacher was terrible,” “I’m already too busy in college,” you said those excuses way too many times. You are not in the ninth grade anymore, and college stress is not coming back until late August, so use this time to learn something fun and useful!

If you are afraid that learning a foreign language is out of your budget, here are five free resources to get you started.

  1. Start with an alphabet.

It doesn’t matter what language you want to learn, learning alphabet is essential and easy. For example, Korean Hangul, which has been around little over 500 years, or Latin, which has been dead longer than anyone can imagine, are some one can start with. Google images can help you find posters with the alphabets, phonetic transcriptions and basic reading rules.

  1. Do fun exercises with BBC.

There are a few things in our world that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) did not cover. If you never thought of BBC as anything other than a news station, you are missing out. BBC website brings you everything from kids’ games to apple pie recipes to, you guessed it, an interactive way to learn languages. With over 30 languages available, BBC Languages is one of the most comprehensible online language tutorials designed for an independent learner. The best part is that this resource is also completely free!  

  1. Start reading with Project Gutenberg.

According to the language teacher David Bolton, one of the most famous archeologists and polyglots Heinrich Shliemann reportedly taught himself all 16 languages he mastered in his life through reading. Reading is the key to understanding grammar and structure of any language. It is also a good way to spend a nice summer afternoon. 

Project Gutenberg makes the experience even better. With over 54 thousand free e-books available, this website is bigger than your local library. Though most of the books on this website are in English, you can still find a pretty good collection of free reading material in French, German, Italian and Portuguese. Books range from original classics to professional translations of famous British authors.

  1. Listen to free audiobooks on YouTube.

If you are more of an auditory learner, take advantage of the free audiobooks available on YouTube. Simply search for books in your language of interest.

  1. Watch foreign movies and TV shows.

When you start missing those lazy days spent on a couch watching Netflix, you can start watching movies in a new language. Once again, YouTube is a great resource to find international entertainment, but don’t forget to search for websites dedicated to promoting foreign movies. Drama Fever is a perfect example of such international promotion. Supported by Warner Bros., this video streaming website focuses on distribution of Asian, primarily South Korean, TV shows and movies. Create a free account to watch hundreds of TV shows. 

Get curious; find more interesting ways to learn a new language this summer!

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