Author Topic: Free Language Learning Resources?  (Read 3682 times)

englishteacheralex

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3917
  • Age: 44
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Free Language Learning Resources?
« on: October 06, 2023, 10:30:33 PM »
After 20 years I am finally returning to France this summer for a family vacation. I actually lived in Montpellier in southern France for a year in college, because one of my majors was French, but I wound up moving to Hawaii for work and never spoke or heard the language again.

In anticipation of our summer trip, I have been watching "Easy French" videos on Youtube and listening to the French Coffee Break podcast. Both are terrific and free. I think becoming conversational in another language really depends on immersion rather than vocab memorization drills and grammar exercises, and also I'm reluctant to pay for anything, which has me balking at things like babbel or duolinguo.

The big thing that I'm missing is the opportunity to practice speaking. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any forums for language learners to practice.

jamaicaspanish

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 131
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2023, 04:33:21 AM »
https://www.conversationexchange.com/

Matches you with other learners wanting to practice your first language
Everything is free -- you connect with English learners and split your time -- so you are both a teacher and learner
I teach Spanish online, and many of my clients have connected with native Spanish speakers for additional practice.
Their experiences have been largely positive
--Insert normal warning about online interactions
« Last Edit: October 07, 2023, 09:02:03 AM by jamaicaspanish »

Adventine

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2424
  • Location: Memphis, USA
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2023, 08:16:16 AM »
Last I checked, Duolingo has a free version supported by ads. I remember the desktop version had far fewer ads. I used it to supplement my formal language classes.

Your local library likely has physical and digital language learning resources too.

Kris

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7348
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2023, 08:25:18 AM »
Pimsleur programs are very good (source: I am a former French university professor). They are expensive to buy, but many libraries have them on CD or MP3.

LifeHappens

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12196
  • Location: Tampa-ish
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2023, 08:28:42 AM »
My library offers a language learning website called Pronunciator. I've been using it for several months and like the structure.

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2216
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2023, 08:36:38 AM »
My partner is learning French online.  He used to do conversations with Duolingo but told me they recently cut those out so he now uses Alliance Francais.  He says the latter is not free, but is inexpensive. 
« Last Edit: October 07, 2023, 10:56:16 AM by Dee18 »

SlowlyButSurely

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2023, 09:33:03 AM »
I was in a similar situation about six months ago. I studied German in college and spent a year there, but then didn't speak the language very much for the next 25 years. I also dabbled in other languages (including French) in the interim, which didn't help.

Last winter, I was thinking about hiking in the German-speaking Alps and started looking around for resources. I stumbled across the Easy German YouTube channel and podcast pretty early and actually ended up doing the Easy German summer school rather than the Alps trip. It was really fun, and a great opportunity to resuscitate my German. It came back surprisingly fast when I was using it every day.

When I started last spring, I found that I could still understand a lot, though listening comprehension took longer than reading. At first I wasn't really following all of the podcast, but I kept at it and within a few weeks I was consistently getting the gist of it, if not understanding every word.

Speaking was harder, though. A friend kindly arranged for us to hike with a German friend of hers, but I struggled to form coherent sentences. Even after I gave up on trying to get the genders and declensions right on the fly, I realized that my biggest problem was my lack of active vocabulary.

In terms of free resources, I dislike the gamification of Duolingo, but my library provides free access to Mango, which I used some during my dabbling in other languages phase. I have also started learning Italian from scratch and really like the methodology of the Language Transfer podcast. Even though it's geared towards total beginners, I think it would be good for a refresher as it does encourage you to think about and produce sentences. I also like the methodology of LingQ, though the free version is annoyingly limited and I have struggled a bit to figure out how to use it effectively. I did shell out for the paid version. I am also paying for an Easy German subscription and get access to exercises related to their YouTube videos. It's moderately helpful, and not too expensive.

But as you note, what really matters is producing. If you can find a language exchange partner, that's great. I ended up paying for sessions with someone through Italki. Your milage will absolutely vary, but I read through the teacher profiles until I found one who seemed like someone I'd like to talk to, and it worked quite well. I am also considering this:

https://hugginsinternational.com/30dayspeakingchallenge

It's $10, but I think having to keep a streak alive would motivate me.

I have also been thinking about ways to practice writing. I have heard that there are ways to use ChatGPT to correct writing samples. I am sure there are limits on what it can do and you would want to take anything it told you with a grain of salt, but it might work. I might also just try to work something out with my Italki teacher. In terms of online dictionaries, I like the web version of DeepL better than Google because it gives you example sentences.

Best of luck!

SlowlyButSurely

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2023, 12:43:17 PM »
And another thought. If you are looking to revive previous fluency, you don't necessarily need to do a exchange with a native speaker. Practicing with another learner at roughly your level also helps a lot. It's also less stressful, because you're both in the same boat.

WayDownSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Age: 193
  • Location: Outside
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2023, 07:20:35 PM »
Pimsleur programs are very good (source: I am a former French university professor). They are expensive to buy, but many libraries have them on CD or MP3.

I can second this. A very cool French coffee shop owner in Mexico gave me a bootleg copy of Pimsleur Spanish (or at least a good part of the full edition) on my first trip down here like 10 years ago and it was very good. It taught me some tricks that Rosetta Stone and many others never even touched on. Highly recommended.

Cranky

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3847
Re: Free Language Learning Resources?
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2023, 11:03:44 AM »
After 20 years I am finally returning to France this summer for a family vacation. I actually lived in Montpellier in southern France for a year in college, because one of my majors was French, but I wound up moving to Hawaii for work and never spoke or heard the language again.

In anticipation of our summer trip, I have been watching "Easy French" videos on Youtube and listening to the French Coffee Break podcast. Both are terrific and free. I think becoming conversational in another language really depends on immersion rather than vocab memorization drills and grammar exercises, and also I'm reluctant to pay for anything, which has me balking at things like babbel or duolinguo.

The big thing that I'm missing is the opportunity to practice speaking. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any forums for language learners to practice.

Is there a branch of Cercle Francaise anywhere nearby? A French conversation meetup group?

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!