Friday, 26 December 2014

Frugal Friday - Free language courses

With one eye firmly on my 2015 goals, I thought I'd share how I plan to achieve one of them: learning French.  My plan is to follow a three-pronged approach: podcasts (starting with Learn French By Podcast, available free on iTunes), the Earworm French books I bought on Audible a while ago (i had credits to use up) and (originally) the BBC's free "learn French" site which, although it says it has been archived, still appears to work (  However, I can't figure out how to make the videos work on my iPad - the BBC is insisting they need Java and Flash - so I took a look at YouTube, where I found dozens of free videos, from Learn French With Alexa to something presented by Eddie Izzard.  

The BBC site, I remembered from a campaign they ran a decade ago.  Their PDF's still download, so you can read those, and the links still work to the foreign language websites they reference. Besides the Beeb, what is surprising is how many free resources there are out there, entire series of learning materials that someone has kindly made available for free (although you may have to watch an advertisement from a sponsor).  Podcasts are an incredible free resource - many are produced by individuals as a hobby, for example, one of my friends learned Dutch from a podcast series started by a Dutchman trying to teach his girlfriend the language.  

I guess that is the point of my post tonight:  if you have the equipment/resources to access them, then before spending money on a course or a DIY book, check out the free materials on iTunes and YouTube.  You will be amazed at what you find.


Louisa Parry said...

I suspect you're not quite as game-obsessed as me, but I very much like Duolingo.

It's a completely free, crowd-sourced site/app, covering the major European languages with more on the way.

I've heard good things about it for a while but have only just started using it myself - and I'm loving it. I'm using it to learn German (which I've dithered about learning for years) and to refresh my French (which I have barely used in the last 20 years).

I like the structure - phrase-based rather than vocab lists etc - and that the interaction is both necessarily strict (eg, on word gender) and forgiving (eg, it spots typos and doesn't penalise you for them).

I do, and will, use it along with other resources but for getting me into the language, and getting me do a little bit every day, it's been great. I'm definitely going look up some podcasts now - thanks for mentioning that, it hadn't occurred to me to look for them!

Happy 2015!

PipneyJane said...

Hi Louise

Duolingo? I thought they only did Spanish. It never occurred to me that they did other languages. (I found the Spanish app a while ago.). Thank you for letting me know about them.

The BBC site still works, but not on an iPad.

Happy 2015 to you too!