Knowing more than one language is a great skill. Especially in a globalized world like the one we live in now. It will bring you many job and traveling opportunities. But it’s also an expensive skill to acquire. No matter the language school or classes you choose, you will have to pay something, a monthly or semester payment, and even textbooks.
And though taking language classes is a great idea, not everyone can afford them. So, what can you do to be bilingual? Is it possible to learn a new language for free? Well, that depends on the level that you wish to attain and how resourceful you might be.
If you want to become a master or polish a high level of professional or academic fluency, you may want to take classes sooner or later – but it’s not at all mandatory. This might be if you want to be a professional language teacher who needs a certificate.
If you simply (but not so simple!) want to be able to confidently and clearly communicate in the language, then absolutely you can learn a language for free.
How to Learn a New Language for Free
First of all, you can start with something you probably already do: watch TV.
You can watch your favorite series or movies in their original language. Or you can even watch your favorite shows dubbed to the language you want to learn. If you’re a beginner, watch them with subtitles, to train your listening, reading, and language comprehension at the same time. As you start feeling more confident, turn off the subtitles.
Watching things you already know and love will help you not to feel too lost. So check out a storyline that you have already seen.
If you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other streaming services, they will help you a lot. They have a wide international catalog, and oftentimes they have subtitles for many different languages. But, of course, these streaming apps cost money. So, if you don’t have any, don’t worry. You can watch the international channel on your normal cable service. Or you can use your old DVDs.
With movies, you’ll learn casual conversation phrases, idioms, and words. Plus, visualizing the story and the things that the characters talk about will help you a lot.
2. Language Apps
There are an incredible number of language apps out there. Though some of them cost money, there are others that are free. We don’t think that a language app will make you 100% fluent or a master of the language. But they will help you get started and expose you to various aspects of the language.
Language apps tend to have many repeat exercises. Which is a good way to learn because, little by little, your brain will memorize that word or phrase. You’ll definitely gain some vocabulary.
They will also help you with pronunciation. A lot of times, before you have to repeat something out loud, you’ll hear a voice pronouncing it. This way you’ll know how to say it yourself. Though real people’s voices might change, the apps will help you train your ear for future real-life conversations.
3. Music and Listening
Listening is a great way to learn a new language. After all, the first thing we did to acquire our native language was to listen to our surroundings. We first heard the sweet voice of our parents repeating lovely words to us. And then, the babies start mumbling, trying to repeat what the parents said. And after a long time, we were finally able to say “mom”.
So why should it be different with our second language?
Here’s another thing you probably already do that will help you acquire a new language: listen to music.
You can just look up songs in your target language to add to your Spotify playlist.
If you’re a beginner, a good idea is to look up multinational songs. There are many popular songs around the world that have covers in different languages. This is a good exercise because you can listen to them in your native language, to hear what they’re about. Then, you listen to the international versions; you already know the meaning so you won’t be too lost. You will train your ear to understand words in a new language and to hear the correct pronunciation.
Take into account that some songs change the meaning from country to country. So just look up the lyrics in every language you hear the songs in. That will tell you how much the song changed.
Another advantage of music is that you can also learn some grammar with songs. For example, if you hear a song that is mostly in the past tense, you will learn verb conjugations in that tense.
You can also learn idioms and everyday expressions with music.
Do you want a fun idea? Make language playlists! You can add your favorite songs in French, Spanish, or Japanese to different playlists. Or add your favorite international tunes to your grammar playlist. You can have a playlist to learn verb tenses, another one to learn casual phrases, and so on. The music lists will depend on your language goals. And they will help you learn even while listening to them in the background.
Another great listening tool is podcasts. There are many options to choose from: from paid to free, from different topics to different platforms. Some of the most popular places to listen to foreign podcasts are Spotify and YouTube. There are even language-related podcasts. So you can choose one that explores your target language.
The great thing about languages is that they’re related to new cultures. So, you can choose two podcasts. One that works as a language class, in which each episode is a new lesson. And another one that teaches you about a country where they speak that language.
You can also listen to a third one about a completely different topic, about something you’re interested in. That way you’ll also learn vocabulary and how to speak fluently, as a native would, in that language.
We’ve already talked about songs and podcasts, which you can find on YouTube. But you can also watch YouTubers. This is one of the best ways to learn how native people of your target language actually speak on an everyday basis.
There are even “a day in my life” videos. In those, the YouTubers take you through all the activities they do during their day. Those are the perfect videos to learn a language for hanging out with friends, going for coffee, working out, and more.
A big part of becoming fluent in a new language is learning how to express yourself in your everyday activities. Just like you do with your native language. You not only use it for work or school, but you also use your native language in all aspects of life. YouTubers will help you achieve that.
5. Internet Research
Nowadays, the internet has taken over our lives. We use it for work and fun. And it will also be your biggest ally if you want to learn more about grammar and language rules.
Since you don’t have a teacher to tell you all about the syntaxis, you’ll have to do a lot of research. It might sound like too much, but you can do it gradually. You can start by looking up the alphabet: How is it written? How is it pronounced? As you advance, you can start looking up harder topics, like prepositions or verb tenses.
If you still don’t know how to start, you can literally research “basic Spanish grammar” or whatever language you’re learning. And then do that with intermediate and advanced levels. You can even answer some online language tests. But honestly, listening to music and learning the most common phrases might save more time in the long run, so don’t stress too much about ‘the rules’.
You can also read some language blogs. Pick your favorite ones and read their publications. You might find some articles explaining grammar topics or even pronunciation hacks that will help you improve your language knowledge.
Keep in mind that, even with this research, you still don’t have a teacher to point out all of your mistakes. So you’ll have to be extra careful when studying.
6. Free Language Exchange Websites
Free language exchange websites are websites that help you practice your target language with a native speaker. The idea of them is to have a conversation in two languages. First, you pick a language partner. Then you speak for around 30 minutes in the language you’re learning, which would be the other person’s native language. Afterward, your partner speaks the other 30 minutes in your native language, which would be the one he/she is learning.
You both have to correct each other’s mistakes to help each other improve in your language journey, suggest new vocabulary, help with pronunciation, and more.
As you see, on these websites you can get great conversation practice. This is a great way to improve your speaking (actually, this is the only way – by speaking!), especially in a natural way. Since it’s with native people, you’re going to learn how to speak as a native, with their idioms and casual phrases.
In order to really improve though, you have to be consistent. You should practice at least two to three hours a week to take advantage of these free language resources. But it can be difficult for you and your partner to match your schedules, time zones, and just plain stick with it for hundreds of hours.
That’s why you should practice with more people. You can pick four to five language partners, so every time you log in there’s someone there to practice with. Plus, you can talk about different topics with each; therefore, you’ll be gaining vocabulary about different topics. If you pick many partners, you can also learn different accents because one language is usually spoken in different regions and countries.
Remember that speaking is one of the main goals in every language learning journey. And, oftentimes, it’s one of the most overlooked goals at schools. So this tool is great for any language learner, whether he or she is already taking classes or not.
Are Language Classes Still Necessary?
Though all of these things will help you learn a new language for free, you still might need more help: to stay consistent, make a plan, track the plan and progress, get answers to your questions, and more.
Learning a new language to an advanced level takes more than just watching movies and downloading apps. Just like it also takes more than only going to classes. Mastering a language is a complementing art: you should take classes, and keep practicing beyond the classroom.
That’s why we think that all of these recommendations would work better if you use them as practice tools. So, after your language lessons, you’ll keep ‘studying’ in fun ways, like watching movies. These suggestions will help you improve and reinforce what you learned in the classroom.
Now, if what’s stopping you from taking language classes is that they’re usually tedious, you should check out TruFluency’s classes. We have fun lessons with native-speaking tutors. Our teaching process is based on the Bellieu Method. Which is focused on making you fluent, so you will have a lot of speaking time during class. That way you won’t get bored, and you’ll feel like you’re actually using what you’re learning. With TruFluency you’ll learn effectively and really see the progress.
We have different monthly subscription packages (the lowest at $45 per hour with a live personalized coach), so you can choose the best one according to your goals and budget. And you can be more sure of the consistency of the classes because you’re paying for them. It is the tutor’s job to show up and teach you – a professional fluency coach.
We also have customized classes, so you can achieve your personal language goals. Additionally, we have good news for your budget: you can get 20% off of your first month of classes with code TF20!