Learning another language gives you a shortcut to experiencing another culture — and with hundreds of language learning tools at your fingertips, it can be free too!
You might find that language programs or a set of tapes is the method that works best for you, but you don’t need these (sometimes costly) language learning tools to get you started. There are resources that don’t cost a dime in your community and online.
Try these four free language learning tools the next time you want to practice your language skills:
1) Online Podcasts
Podcasts, produced audio content available for free download through the iTunes store, are language learning tools that give you short lessons every day in languages from Japanese to Polish.
Some of the most helpful — and most popular — podcasts are available through news services like the BBC and The Independent, and come in a variety of levels from beginner level to advanced.
These great language learning tools come in a variety of formats for every learning style: grammar lectures, vocabulary lists, dialogues and more. Some even have downloadable worksheets that go along with the lesson, so you can pick the language learning tools that speak to you!
2) Restaurant Menus
Take another look at that menu when you go out to eat. Many international restaurants will have the dishes and ingredients listed in the regional language, and menus can be a helpful language learning tool.
You can match up the traditional names with their English translations and order the dish in the original language — maybe even ask the waiter for help with your pronunciation!
Food-related words are some of the most useful additions to your vocabulary when you’re learning another language. This language learning tool is also one of the most fun to use — especially when you get the treat of eating afterward!
3) Audio Recording Devices
One of the best ways to sound like a native speaker is by listening to yourself talk and correcting those pesky pronunciation errors. Now, with so many easy ways to record yourself, you can use this language learning tool wherever you are!
Many computers and phones now have microphones and recording capabilities. There are also services online that will archive your recordings for you.
Take five minutes each day to use these language learning tools. Speak about a topic of your choosing and play back the tape afterward. You’ll catch common grammatical and pronunciation errors that will help your future language learning!
4) Chat Around the World
If you already have access to the Internet, you have thousands of language resources at your disposal. One of the most useful ways to use the Internet as a language learning tool is by finding language partners to talk to.
There are many sites that will match you up with a conversation partner by the language you both want to learn. With these language learning tools, you can text chat online, or grab a headset and use the free Skype service to speak to each other.
Using the Internet as language learning tool gives you the chance to reach other language learners around the world, plus you might find a more conversational than you can get from a book.