Because I’m constantly trying to convince my family that they should join my in learning French (how fun would it be to speak with my family!), I am sometimes asked questions about where they can get started. This makes me super happy because then I know they’re considering it! How great would it be to share a coffee with my sisters in French (or the somewhat broken French we’d be speaking).
Below are some of the resources I recommend for anyone who asks me who how they can get started or dabble in a language. Some of these are great if you just want to learn a little bit about what the language sounds like.
- Your local library! My former workplace offers Mango (over twenty languages) free of charge for library card holders. Many other public libraries offer web resources, CDs, movies, and books for language learners.
- When I was spending some time commuting in our last month or so before leaving Tennessee, I used a French-in-your-car method to get used to some new pronunciation. There’s no one to hear you putting on an exaggerated accent. I used the one that my library had available, but if you’re going to put some money into them, maybe check out some of the reviews.
- DuoLingo: This is my top suggestion for complete newbies. It’s free, lets you speak, write, read, and listen. There’s a great application you can use on a tablet or mobile device, but the website works great, too. Feel free to add me (I’m LeMoine!)
- Busuu.com: Similar toDuoLingo, but with a bit more of a social networking feel. I enjoyed using the Premium Version back in the day, but it is only available for a trial period of seven days. After that, you can still access many free lessons, but with a more limited scope. At that point, I think you’re better off returning to DuoLingo. Unless you have more spending money than me.
- Netflix.com: If you’ve got internet at home and are trying to learn a language, you should pay the 6.99 monthly to access videos in your target language. Okay, this maybe only applies for French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, and German. I can attest that you’ll have plenty of Spanish and French material.
- Radio Lingua Resources: If you’re digitally inclined and can download the iPods and then listen to these in your car, I would recommend them over the typical learn-in-your-car courses. Each class is about 15 minutes, and they start from zero. They do not have every language, but if you’re in the market for French, Spanish, German, Italian, or ESL, you’re in luck.
Once You’ve Gained Some Momentum
Depending upon how dedicated you are, you’re probably going to want to expand from those resources after a few months. If for no other reason than you might get bored with the language if you don’t actually interact in the language with another human being. Now you can start concentrating even more on language used in real life contexts.
- Conversation Exchange Website: This have been an enormous blessing for me while in Montreal. I’ve met some really great people who are committed toward learning a new language while helping me learn mine. For face to face meet-ups, this is more helpful if you live in a large city, but if you’re looking for chat/Skype practice, you will be able to find a partner as well.
- Again, check your library! What your library offers is going to depend on where you’re located, but many libraries offer some sort of ESL or foreign language classes. The Friends of the Library in Montreal offers French conversation courses for beginners, intermediates, and advanced learners.
- MeetUp: If you live in a bigger city, you might find some like-minded people who are interested in practicing, too.
- Netflix.com: Keep watching movies to listen to how native speakers interact with one another.
- Internet Reading: Find newspapers, children’s books, or ebooks in the target language. You can read children’s books online at the International Children’s Digital Library in several languages, find newspapers published where they speak your target language, or online e-books in your target language.
I hope this resources will help you get started in your search. Soon, my family and I will be chatting over coffee in whatever language I badger them into learning!