Online Language Classes and Courses

Learning a foreign language has never been easier. Developments on the web have made streaming language clips easy and efficient. Speakers of different languages are more connected than ever before and can communicate through Skype and other tools for mutual benefit. People from around the world can come together to teach each other the facts of their languages and culture for better understanding. With such easy access it is no wonder that many of these services are springing up across the web.

While many of these types of services charge for use, we focus on those with free content. Most require some kind of subscription for access to all content but offer some material at no cost. The types of lessons include podcasts, written tutorials and video for each learner to choose what works best for them. Ideally, this type of multifaceted system is an education in speaking, writing and comprehending the languages. Some of these programs center on conversational phrases for travelers while others focus on grammar to really understand the language. Whatever your approach there is a course for you. Included here are classes that teach more than one language and those that focus on only one culture.

  • General

    • SurvivalPhrases includes lessons in 19 of the worlds most popular languages focused on the words you need to know to get by. Also check out iTunes for more of their offerings.
    • The Radio Lingua Network produces extensive materials for language learning, including the One Minute and Coffee Break series
    • The Peace Corps hosts online courses in Arabic, Russian, Bambara, French, Mandarin, Thai and Ukranian with audio files and translations.
    • BBC Languages includes French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Chinese and more to pick from. It teaches through audio, text and news in your language of choice.
    • Learn a Language has eight world languages available for learning and includes games and activities for each of them.
    • Open Languages is devoted to teaching the less well known languages of the world including Afrikaans, Korean, Bemba and Swahili with more on the way.
  • Arabic

    • ArabicPod is a beginner’s guide to cultural and colloquial sayings in Arabic, as well as modern concerns like SIM cards.
  • Chinese

    • Beginner’s Chinese was developed by The Open University and includes 23 lessons and transcripts of the basic grammar and words of Mandarin.
    • Chinsese Learn Online is aimed at beginner to intermediate speakes of Mandarin and includes audio, transcripts and evaluation tools.
    • Melnyks Chinese has sample audio, transcripts and worksheets as well as lessons to understand Chinese characters.
    • ChinesePod provides traditional audio and written tools as well as mobile based apps so you can learn Chinese on the go.
    • News in Slow Chinese is an interesting concept that uses relaxed paced news reports and translations to help students learn naturally and at a good pace.
    • Mandarin Chinese – Radicals was created by Emory College Language Center as a video series to teach the proper methods to write Chinese characters.
    • Popup Chinese records MP3 lessons for use on your iPod or personal computer so you can take them wherever you go.
    • World Learner Chinese allows free access to some of its lessons and hosts a forum where people around the world can ask questions and share their progress.
  • Danish

    • SpeakDanish.dk offers free lessons in Danish on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation and offers an interactive course for a price.
  • English

    • BBC Learning English features tons of lessons, quizzes, games and other materials to help you learn English quickly.
    • Better @ English begins at intermediate level and moves to advanced with podcasts, articles and tests built around real spoken English.
    • Business English Pod centers around the phrases you need to know to succeed in a job interview and interact with your coworkers.
    • Effortless English teaches the language through conversational podcasts of conversational language and current events.
    • English as a Second Language Pod takes commonplace English conversations, slows them down and provides transcripts to enhance the learning experience.
    • goFluent’s English in the Real World presents the listener with real life situations so they can hear how it is really spoken.
    • Edufone is a venue where English and Spanish speakers come together to learn each other’s native language with the help of podcasts.
    • Grammar Girl is aimed at people trying to improve their writing in English but is useful to understand the formal rules of English.
    • Tu ingles! helps native Spanish speakers learn English through individual exercises exploring different types of words, parts of speech and grammatical conventions.
  • Finnish

    • Tavataan taas! provides lessons on the Finnish language through discussions of Finland as a country.
  • French

    • FrenchPod’s audio files focus on real life situations to teach students the phrases that matter.
    • Radio France International offers slowly spoken news stories for those who are learning the language.
    • Daily French Pod has written activities and podcasts to hear pronunciation and compare to spelling conventions.
    • News in Slow French combines clear, relaxed French news reports with their transcripts to help students learn new words quickly and understand how they are said.
    • Francais interactif is a production of the University of Texas and complements their textbook, which is also available online.
  • German

    • Deutsch-Lernen gets you started with 10 basic lessons and many interactive quizes for a completely free learning experience. Also check out the slowly spoken news feed produced by the same company.
    • GermanPod101 is a completely free system to learn the language through their website, mobile tools and software suite.
    • German Podcast.de includes audio lessons to learn on a virtual vacation and articles explaining German grammar.
    • GerGermanGrammarPodcasts is the work of a high school German teacher and explores the ins and outs of German grammar.
    • MyGermanClass presents webcasts of bizzarre situations in German to involve listeners in their learning.
    • Slow German provides readings in slowly spoken German of common conversations you might encounter on a daily basis.
  • Greek

    • Learning Greek Podcasts is produced by the Hellenic American Union and consists of 80 short conversations to learn on your own.
  • Hebrew

    • Hebrew for Me teaches through lessons that revolve around common events you might take part in on a trip to Israel.
    • The Online Hebrew Tutorial takes the form of a textbook and teaches grammar and vocabulary from basic to advanced.
  • Hindi

    • I Speak Hindi teaches through many streaming audio lessons, written definitions and through their forums and wiki activities.
    • Namaste Dosti has a few podcasts on learning the HIndi language and includes articles for many of them.
  • Italian

    • ItalianPodis a subscription service that centers around learning from real speech and has some samples available freely.
    • LearnItalianPod divides lessons by difficulty and includes a few different programs with a focus on learning vocabulary, grammar, conversational speech and cultural sayings.
    • Let’s Speak Italian! teaches the vocabularly needed to get by through its lessons and has a few for free.
  • Japanese

    • JapanesePod101 teaches primarily through streaming audio and video files but also includes written articles on Kanji and vocabulary.
    • Japanese Kanji teaches the characters of the language through podcasts on their meaning use and form.
    • Japancast.net hosts virutal classrooms where students come together on Skype and other services to share their knowledge of the language, and also includes some traditional podcasts.
    • Japanese Podcasting Lessons use Kanji symbols as the basis for their lessons and show how the character is formed and used in the language.
  • Korean

    • The Korean Language Adventure is sponsored by the Korean Tourism Board and allows browsing of the most basic chapter free of charge.
    • Online Intermediate College Korean is a completely free service based on a popular college textbook for teaching Korean.
    • Talk to Me in Korean offers podcasts and transcripts to help build language skills quickly and also has a blog and forum for interactive learning.
  • Latin

    • Latinum combines podcasts, videos and social networking to provide a dedicated community of enthusiasts to learn with.
  • Portuguese

    • BrazilianPodClass is a membership-based language course centered around Brazilian Portuguese and culture, and includes some free lessons.
    • Alfabeto is produced by Emory College and teaches correct pronunciation of the unique features of the Portuguese alphabet.
    • Ta Falado is aimed at current Spanish speakers and focuses on the differences between the languages, although it is accessible to those from other backgrounds as well.
  • Russian

    • A Spoonful of Russian teaches the language through podcasts and text as well as lessons on writing in the Cyrillic alphabet.
    • A Taste of Russian consists of free podcasts and transcripts of realistic conversations by native speakers.
    • The UCLA Center for World Languages has many podcasts both to learn Russian spoken in business and the words used in classic literature.
    • Everyday Russian includes a few lessons to introduce the language to beginners and explain basic grammar.
    • RussianPod101 is not just podcasts; it provides assignments, notes, printable resources and a network of people to learn alongside.
    • Russian Grammatical Tables presented by Bob Cromwell, this is a tool for those looking to learn how to use real Russian characters in your web pages and printed documents.
  • Spanish

    • Cody’s Cuentos teaches through folktales and children’s stories, using familiar material to introduce new vocabulary and grammar.
    • Edufone inspires collaboration between English and Spanish speakers as they come together to learn about each other’s language and culture.
    • InstaSpanish is a subscription based program with some demo material to get you started learning the language.
    • SpanishPod101 is a community oriented course to learn Spanish that includes podcasts, videos and notes to help you learn.
    • The Spanish Survival Guide explores common dialogs through podcasts that both teach and test your language knowledge.
    • Discover Spanish is a membership program consisting of 36 lessons with podcasts, vocabulary and grammar.
    • Notes in Spanish aims to teach the natural way by immersing students in the language and culture and offers many free lessons.
    • La Casa Rojas provides intermediate and advanced lessons that discuss the culture of Spanish speaking countries through their many podcasts.
    • SpanishPod has lessons for every level speaker and focuses on modern topics like vaccines and email for useful language learning.
    • SpanishPod101 includes podcasts, videos, printable tools and a forum to learn Spanish in a community-based environment.
    • Spanish-Bookworld has some free lessons to learn the language with more for a reasonable price.
    • Voices en Espanol has blog posts on language learning in both Spanish and English but centers its program around podcasts of real conversations.
  • Swedish

    • Klartext is a Swedish newspaper that broadcasts its stories in slow Swedish accompanied by on screen transcripts.
    • SwedishLIngQ offers free podcasts exploring Swedish through simple stories that highlight useful vocabulary and the grammar behind it.
  • Thai

    • Learn Thai Podcast guides users through the Thai language with free video and audio lessons with more content available for subscription.
    • Thai Alphabet is a series of audio lessons on the different letters and combinations available in the Thai language.
  • Turkish

  • Vietnamese

  • Yiddish

    • Millie’s Yiddish Class has a few lessons teaching basic vocabulary and conversation in Yiddish, unfortunately it appears to have been abandoned.