Five fantastic tools to learn a foreign language for free


Want to learn a foreign language? The web is full of resources to help you do so, and in this post we will showcase five of the best resources that will help you learn and improve the language of your choice and have a ton of FUN doing it.

The tools mentioned here are somewhat English-centric (two out of five are English only), but they are all worth checking out.

DuoLingo is both structured and fun; EnglishCentral and Nobuna teach English through fun interactive videos; PolyglotClub will help you find a community to learn a language with right where you live; and Fraze-It will show you the correct way to use a word or phrase in a sentence.

1. DuoLingo: proof that learning languages can be fun

DuoLingo Screenshot1DuoLingo Screenshot2

A remarkable resource that makes learning languages easy and fun. It employs multiple choice questions (with pictures), asks you to type in words, and speak through a microphone. Underneath it’s fun veneer, DuoLingo takes you on a systematic journey that covers all the basis from beginner to proficient.

Supported languages: Spanish, French, German, English and Portuguese.

DuoLingo comes in the guise of free web app or a free app for iOS. See our full review of Duolingo.

2. EnglishCentral: learn English through interactive videos

EnglishCentral Screenshot1

At first, English Central seems like it consists of a bunch of videos with subtitles (albeit fun-to-read subtitles), but these are interactive subtitles that can be clicked on for definitions, and for practicing to pronunciation through a microphone.

EnglishCentral Screenshot2EnglishCentral Screenshot3

A simple concept that was strangely engaging when we tried it.

3. PolyglotClub: find a community to learn a language with in your town

Unique among language learning resources, PolyglotClub lets you connect with people in your town that can help you learn any language you want, and allows you to help other people learn a language that you know.

Polyglot Screenshot

PolyglotClub is a kind of ‘meetup for language learners’, intended to connect you with others through real meetings that you can host yourself or that you can attend in your own town. It is also geared towards getting feedback/input on texts that you write in the language you want to learn (such as resumes or articles), and for posting questions on a forum and getting help from others in the community.

4. Nobuna: learn to listen to English

Like EnglishCentral above, Nobuna uses videos to teach language listening skills. It turns listening into a kind of a game. Difficulty ranges from beginner to proficient.

Nobuna Screenshot

A downloadable version of Nobuna for Windows is available that can be launched right from the desktop.

5. Fraze-It: a search engine for the correct use of words and phrases

If you’re learning a new language, Fraze-It can be extremely helpful in finding the correct use of a word or phrase in a sentence. It has a simple yet powerful search syntax (e.g. fusion /c:science to lookup the word fusion in a scientific context), or you can simply type in the word or phrase to search many contexts all at once. See for example my search for the phrase ‘economic parity’ below.

Fraze It Screenshot

Fraze-It supports English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese.

A penny for your thoughts (in the comments section below).