Free language lessons are the route to learning such basic words as "hello," "where's the bathroom?" and "how much does that cost?" when talking to a street vendor in a remote Peruvian town or a back street in Amsterdam. Sure you can pay a fee and learn from Berlitz, or grab a book and CD from the library, but why not stay right here at your computer and click to one of these sites that offer free language lessons.
Why Learn Languages for Free?
You may be able to get by with English if you're heading to a major European city (unless you're exploring the less touristy streets where you'll find some of the most interesting shops and locals). But, if you're heading to a small town in Peru, a side-street in Old Delhi, or trekking in Nepal, knowing at least a few words of the local language can make a dramatic difference. Heading to a website offering free language lessons may be a quick way to learn key phrases before you travel.
Austin-Lehman List Key Phrases in 5 Languages
Austin-Lehman, an award-winning adventure travel company, offers language tips in five languages: French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. The lists include basic phrases such as "Hello", "Please" and "I'm lost. Can you help me find....". Plus, some just for fun phrases, such as "I drank too much. Call me a cab" and "I'd like one of everything, please". Austin-Lehman is one of the top adventure travel companies.
Free Language Lessons from Locals at LivemochaLivemocha lets you learn from and converse with locals in the country you want to visit. Livemocha bills itself as the first-of-its-kind online language-learning community, offering interactive lessons that move at the right pace for you. You can practice conversing with text and audio chat tools, and receive one-on-one instruction from tutors and native speakers. Currently, the languages include English, Spanish, French, Hindi, German and Mandarin Chinese. For details, visit Livemocha.
Free Language Lessons and Refresher Courses at BBC Languages
BBC Languages has a variety of language courses and language learning games on the website. For French, for example, there's a course for beginners and another designed for people who already have a smattering or more of the language. Languages include French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Portuguese and others. For details about the free language courses - many are interactive videos- visit BBC Languages.
Free Language Lessons on Specific Topics at Internet PolyglotInternet Polyglot is unique, in that it's a site where you can learn words about specific topics or items. For example, if you're traveling to Romania, there's a list of drinks and food you might want to ask for in a restaurant. To quote a few lines from the site: "Internet Polyglot should not be used as the sole device for learning a foreign language. It is intended to be a way to help you memorize material, not learn it. You should already understand the subject, and know the material: then Internet Polyglot will help you remember it." It's recommended that you use this site in conjunction with language lessons. For details visit Internet Polyglot.
Free Language Lessons From FSI Language Courses
These are courses for dozens of languages spoken in countries around the world, from Thailand and Vietnam to Turkey and Cambodia. The courses have been developed by the United States government, but, to quote from the website: This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses here are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to provide quality materials for language learning." The lessons will teach you a lot, but some of the lessons tend to be a bit dry in tone. For details visit FSI Language Courses.
Free Language Lessons on iPhone Apps from WorldNomads.com
WorldNomads.com has 26 free language guides that can be downloaded to use on Mp3 players, iPhones and iPods. These free versions each have 50 - to 60 words.
More Free Language Courses on About.com's Distance Learning Website
About.com's Distance Learning guide, Jamie Littlefield, also has links to several sources for free online learning courses. To see where else you can learn visit Free Online Language Courses.
More Links to Free Online Language LessonsLinks to free online language courses are easy to find on the Word2Word Web site. Here you'll find links to courses in dozens of languages. Some offer key words for tourists, while others are designed to to make a student fluent in the language. The wide range of languages can be especially helpful to adventure travelers who are going to exotic destinations where few, if any, locals speak English.
Tips for Learning Languages
For tips from an expert on brushing up your language skills or learning "where is the bathroom," visit Free Language Tips.