It would be great if everyone had ample time and resources to enroll in immersive foreign language classes at their nearest university. Or better yet, the ability to study abroad and learn a language organically. Unfortunately, full-time or intensive language experiences are often out of reach for many of us.
But no matter your circumstances, you don't have to give up on your dream of attaining fluency in another language. We've broken down some of the most cost and time-effective ways to get started.
Cost: Free / $6.99 a month for Duolingo Plus
With more than 30 languages to choose from, Duolingo is one of the most prevalent language-learning apps out there. They gamify their lessons, it's free to get started, and it's a great way to learn new vocabulary words. The lessons are short and sweet, so they're perfectly suited for people on-the-go.
However, all of the lessons are self-directed, and there is no peer practice or accountability outside of yourself. So if you tend to be someone who needs more of a buddy system, you may want to combine the app with some other learning resources.
Cost: Free / $8.99 a month or $99.99 one-time payment for Premium
While Duolingo has a holistic focus on all aspects of language learning, Memrise is more focused on vocabulary and phrase memorization. The premium version gives you more listening practice and offers a more personalized experience. As with all apps, Memrise offers self-directed learning, so it's best for those who don't need peer practice or external deadlines and motivators for learning.
Cost: $8.95 a month or $62.55 annually
Babbel doesn't have a free version, but it does have a similar mission to other language learning apps. It offers speaking and listening practice, and plenty of vocabulary review. Babbel also offers in-depth grammatical studies and lessons, and is one of the more academic apps on the market.
1. Fluent City
Cost: From $35 Per Hour
Fluent City offers both private online lessons and group online lessons.
Private lessons start with an intake questionnaire about your learning goals and learning style to match you with the perfect instructor and classes can be scheduled based on your availability. Online group lessons are offered in a variety of languages and levels so you can get practice speaking with peers.
Monthly subscriptions are also coming soon if you're in search of more flexible one-on-one learning options. Stay tuned!
Coursera provides courses, certificates, and degrees from univerities and companies across the world. Many of the courses are geared toward earning or enhancing professional accreditations. You will find some handy resources on foreign language vocabulary, or you may be able to take a business course in German or a finance course in Japanese.
If you want to practice your French while eating croissants in a local patisserie or flex your beginner Chinese over dim sum, Meetup could be the place you'll find others in the same boat. Join a local group to meet people with shared interests, and plan or tag along with a conversational outing. It might take a bit of digging, but you'll find someone to practice speaking with. And it won't cost a thing.
With HelloTalk, you can practice conversing with people around the world for free. Through their worldwide community, you can explore a new culture, make friends, and ask questions or share updates. Conversation partners are available through video, voice, and text, so you're likely to find a way to step outside of your comfort zone that isn't too overwhelming.
1. Fluent City
Cost: From $55 per hour
Fluent City has private language lessons for students who prefer more dedicated, personalized lessons. You'll get matched with an expert instructor who will design a curriculum around your schedule, goals, and language level.
Verbling is a marketplace for teachers. You can search for a teacher based on the language you want to learn, your schedule, your learning goals, and the rates you'd like to pay. The platform will match you with a suitable teacher and you'll get one-on-one lessons.
YouTube has a ton of bite-sized lessons in virtually any language you'd like to learn. Try Francais avec Pierre, Butterfly Spanish, or Chinese for Us. With so much content available, you're bound to find some fun and useful resources.
Netflix is full of television shows and movies in foreign languages, many of them the award-winners or popular choices that made it into international film collections. Switch off English subtitles for extra credit.
You can also check out the language learning with Netflix chrome extension.
Tunein allows you to listen to the radio in any language you'd like - Aboriginal, Berber, Catalan, Mongolian - you name it! You can also look for the national radio station of any country you're interested in, and get a nice dose of news, culture, and real-life conversation.
If you're feeling motivated to start practicing your foreign language skills today, take our fun level assessment quiz to see where you stand.