Our economy has become global. Businesses in the future will place a premium on highly-qualified, multi-lingual employees. To prepare your little one best, take advantage of biology: languages are easiest to learn before puberty. Whether you are looking for a course for yourself or your child, here are the best ones.

Avid learners should be able to master whichever topic they desire, regardless of whether it is math, physics, chemistry or languages. Luckily, technology has significantly shifted the manner in which studying happens. Online education access is perhaps the most crucial component responsible for this shift. But can online language courses turn your child into a tiny polyglot (a person who speaks multiple languages)? Or, is an in-classroom environment, with the presence of a teacher mandatory for your progress?

Of course, there are many questions that come to mind when choosing an online language course: should you opt for a free course or are cost-dependent ones more reliable? How can you know which of these is a waste of time and which are going to cause visible change?

The truth is that these are loaded questions: with preconceptions and personal preference. Then again, there is also a lot of confusion when analyzing evidence. We’ve comprised a list of online language courses that, aside from a wide variety of languages offered, also include numerous courses and innovative teaching resources.

mastering foreign languages online

Online Language Courses at a Glance:

1. Memrise

memrise screenshot language courses

Memrise has a straightforward, yet memorable motto: learning should be made joyful. They aim to have students partake in courses that are joyous. And, while the motto enough isn’t reason enough to convince you of Memrise’s capabilities, its course offerings will.

The platform offers students the possibility of consulting high-quality courses in over 200 languages. Memrise uses “adaptive learning tech,” which understands each student’s personal learning style and adapts to that.

It also offers students (and teacher alike) the opportunity of creating their own flashcards. Also, access regardless of the device used (you aren’t bound to your pc — simply pull out your tablet during your commute and learn some new German phrases!) and even compete with friends.

The site features beginner’s courses in languages. Courses offered include Spanish, English, German, French, and Italian. As well as Portuguese, Mandarin, Chinese, and Japanese. In addition to Russian, Arabic, Korean, Swedish, Kanji, or even Dutch. Funny enough, Morse Code is also on the list, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s a language after all.

Basic courses begin with pronunciation and letters (in the case of Asian languages such as Chinese, Arabic and even Russian). Each new learning item correlates with a variety of “mems” designed to help students remember. Students test on their accumulated knowledge — and presented with consistent repetition — which helps with the learning process

The platform also offers excellent external motivation by suggesting that students set up daily goals and rewarding meeting them (the higher the target, the higher the rewarded bonus!). Aside from competing with friends, you can also consult course leaderboards to see how other students are doing.

2.      Livemocha

learning foreign languages online livemocha

Hoping to help as many people become fluent in multiple languages, Livemocha offers the world’s largest online language learning community. Aside from traditional language learning methods, the community encourages interaction with teachers, native speakers and eager language experts who contribute by leaving responses to practice exercises, constructing small lessons or offering session feedback. Additionally, they also take part in practice conversations via audio chat, video chat or text messaging.

The language courses, registration, and community access is free. Students may choose from over 35 languages. Including Catalan, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian, and Farsi. As well as Greek, Finnish, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Romanian. You can also choose Hindi, Urdu, Serbian, Slovak or Ukrainian. This in addition to all other sought-after languages.

3.      Duolingo

duolingo language courses

Duolingo is one of the best online language tools out there, and most importantly, it is not only free, but also efficient. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is by far the best free online language learning apps (yes! It also offers an app to make commutes fun and educational). The unique component of Duolingo is the fact that it has managed to turn language learning into individual skill training.

Lessons are simply cut into bite-sized skills that feel more like games than a course itself. Completing lessons help you earn points, while getting something wrong makes you lose lives. But more importantly, this one-of-a-kind tool takes into consideration all aspects of learning a language, from reading and writing to speaking and listening.

The in-lesson experience is fun and creative: hovering over words will instantly translate them into the language you are studying. It will also add external motivators such as earning XP. If you already know the basics of a language, short placement tests will analyze your knowledge. They will test you on that particular language by adjusting to your answers until they accurately determine where you stand.

4.      Open Culture


open culture logo

Also featuring a vast collection of language courses, Open Culture has classes in languages such as Bambara, Cambodian, and Chinese. Also, Czech, Estonian, Gaelic, Greek, Hebrew, Indi and many others. Most courses offer audio lessons, drills, dialogue examples, narratives, exercises as well as speech samples, explanations and textbooks.

Open Culture also features an excellent course on Sign Language, ASL 101, with over 30 lessons to help students learn the basics (and even deepen their knowledge) of sign language.

5.      Babbel


babbel learning languages

In the book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel was the origin of multiple languages. Befitting its name, Babbel is one of the foremost online language course platforms. With over 300 employees, babble offers high-quality language courses in German, French, English, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, Turkish and Spanish.

Users register free of charge, and each course offers a free first lesson. However, full access to the classes of your choice in the learning language you desire isn’t free.

6.      Anki


memorization app anki

Though not a source of language courses alone, Anki is worth mentioning because of its remarkable features, flexibility and spaced repetition technology.

Anki is a memorization tool that uses words, phrases, images and even sounds to help you make connections, interpret them and turn concepts into long-lasting memories. It is exceptionally efficient for languages and may help you better deal with the online courses you are taking.

7.      Class Central

class central online education

Though Class Central isn’t a language-course-only destination, it works as a MOOCs aggregator (Massive Open Online Courses). MOOCs represent free, online courses stemming from world-leading universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, or Duke.

The course offerings of Class Central are impressive, to say the least, with unique courses offered in languages such as Hebrew, Estonian, Basque and Arabic. Such courses may serve a double purpose, as they help you deepen your knowledge of a certain language while also catering to other interests.

So if you are preparing for a high school or college final and also wish to spruce up your German skills, such courses are an ideal choice, with courses in Spanish Literature, Arts or even Pathology delivered in virtually any language you can think of.

As opposed to the past, learning a language online has become a reality because online content offers more than just course material, it offers real-life conversation, experience and access to sophisticated educational content. Granted, mastering a language requires long-term interactions with native speakers, but as the definition of learning a language is rather fluid, online language courses do help tremendously in providing support and structure.


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