Lingoni evolved from YouTube’s popular channel, German with Jenny. This web application provides video lessons, vocabulary training, and podcasts for A1-B2 German and French learners. Each lesson and vocabulary training is accompanied by a series of exercises, including but not limited to: translation practice, sentence building, listening practice, and correcting mistakes in pre-written sentences. The podcast also includes a worksheet where you can fill in the blanks while listening to improve your listening comprehension.
Lingoni encourages 70% comprehension before allowing you move on to the next lesson. Overall, it seems to provide effective support for both beginner and intermediate learners to advance their skills.
If you’re interested in checking out Jenny’s teaching style, there are lots of free videos available on her YouTube channel.
Speakly focuses on reading, listening, speaking and writing to improve your confidence in your target language. It uses a Spaced Repetition System to help you push vocabulary into your long term memory, and teaches you the 4000 most statistically-relevant words in your target language.
Before using the program, you can take a placement test to estimate how many of the 4000 most common words you already know. Then, you will be placed in one of 9 levels. You will start with a series of sentences, learning words within context and then filling in the blanks for recall. After learning several words, you will be presented with a LIVE-situation where you will recreate a dialogue with the recording of a native speaker. The dialogues are also short enough that you can listen to them repeatedly, practice speaking along with the recording, and quickly notice improvement.
Besides flashcards and dialogues, there are also reading and listening exercises with interesting content. You can download the audio to study offline, which is helpful because Speakly encourages you to listen to the same exercise 3-5 days in a row to see improvement.
One of few downsides to Speakly is that for the basic flashcard sentences, all of the narrations use automatic text-to-speech rather than native speakers’ voices.
The Foreign Services Institute developed their language courses to help diplomats quickly reach professional working proficiency in a language. They would attend 5 hours of language instruction per day, plus homework, for 24-88 weeks (depending on the language). The table at the bottom of this page indicates the average time it would take for a student to reach professional working proficiency.
The FSI program places a strong focus on listening comprehension, in addition to extensive exercises for grammar and vocabulary. If you follow along with the audio and respond to the prompts in each drill, you will also develop confidence in speaking the language.
With hundreds of pages of text, dozens of hours of audio, and several levels in many languages, the FSI courses are still probably the most comprehensive, free courses you can follow. Just remember that they are decades old, so the audio is not very clear and the vocabulary often includes both sexist and obsolete language. Also, some of the topics will not be relevant to your everyday life.
Several sites host these free, open-source courses, but the site linked below is easy to navigate. Beware of any site selling courses “originally made for diplomats,” as these are probably free FSI courses with a price tag. You can also check out the DLI courses, which are equally as comprehensive (and free!).
Easy Languages gets people involved from all around the globe —from Brazil to Mongolia — to film authentic interviews about everyday life with locals on the street.
A typical episode format starts with the interviewer (or interviewers) introducing the topic and location for the day. Then, they will approach various locals to ask their opinion or test their knowledge. Only a handful of languages, like Hindi, and Swahili, don’t follow this format — these are also typically the languages with fewer videos.
Easy Languages invites co-producers to join their channel, which means that anyone can apply to create videos, as long as they are filmed according to the Easy Languages guidelines. These co-producers receive multimedia training if they don’t already have experience in the field, so the videos typically have a baseline quality standard (although sometimes the filming can be a bit shaky).
Most of the interviewers have a bubbly personality, and some of them appear in multiple language interviews within Easy Languages. Overall, the interviews are enjoyable and will train your ear to understand a range of voices and accents. Also, for anyone who uses Seedlang for German, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see Cari’s friendly face in the Easy German episodes!
The DLI and FSI language courses are still some of the most comprehensive resources for language learning today, and probably the most comprehensive free resources you will find.
Although the DLI and FSI courses are comparable in quality, DLI courses focus more on military terminology in the later lessons, while FSI courses focus on everyday communication and communication for diplomats. Another key difference between them is that the DLI courses may go into more depth, and also seem to provide a more comprehensive guide to the study of each language; the FSI courses either have briefer explanations or dive straight into the content. Both of them have outdated content, which is understandable considering that they were developed in the mid-1900s and have scarcely been updated since then.
Often the DLI courses outline clear practice strategies to reproduce your target language’s sounds. Also, depending on the language, literal translations are sometimes used so that you get accustomed to each language’s grammar structure.
All the PDFs and audio files are available for download on various sites, although Live Lingua has made navigating between the material quite intuitive. If you can’t find your desired language in the DLI courses, check out the FSI courses for different options.
[email protected] (Extra)
[email protected] is a beginner French, Spanish, German, and English series that portrays the life of Sam (or Hector, in the English version) arriving in a new country to learn the local language. Programs like Destinos and French in Action will probably help you develop a stronger foundation in your target language than [email protected], but if you are nearing the intermediate level, [email protected] can be an enjoyable watch.
The exaggerated gestures will give context when you don’t understand the dialogue, and the drama will keep you wondering what’s going to happen next. Unfortunately, the characters follow clearly defined gender roles, and some of the script is a bit sexist — make sure you take the cultural information with a grain of salt, as some (or much) of it may be outdated.
Every language’s episodes were filmed in the same apartment with more or less the same script, although the English storyline goes 17 episodes further than the rest. You can find the show with extra comprehension activities with a Yabla subscription. Otherwise, this Youtube channel and this Youtube channel combined have all of the French episodes, this one has most of the English Episodes, and this one has most of the Spanish and German episodes.
French in Action
From the producers of the Spanish video series, Destinos, French in Action is an award-winning beginner French video course from the late 1980s that will train your listening comprehension and speaking abilities.
Pierre J. Capretz is both the narrator of the series and the originator of the Capretz Theory. The idea is that French is French; it’s not coded English. So, understanding French is not about making direct translations into your native language; you have to learn meaning through observation and deduction. Consequently, beginners may be overwhelmed when they first engage with the French-immersion series, but gradually they will pick up basic vocabulary as they follow along and respond to Capretz’s prompts to repeat after different characters.
Each of the fifty-two 30-minute episodes starts with a brief English explanation that gives context for the lesson. Then, you will hear a dialogue that follows the story from the previous lesson, followed by a series of interviews, movie clips, and images that illustrate keywords. Throughout the lesson, you will hear the new words pronounced before you see them written. This way you will be less likely to associate French writing with English sounds, as they have very similar scripts.
For more French immersion material, you can check out Easy French and Alice Ayel on YouTube; intermediate learners can try innerFrench and Frantastique (which is expensive, but 100% worth the free trial).
If you want to learn French from the comfort of your own house, then Frenchpod101 is definitely a site worth visiting. It is a comprehensive learning tool that has lessons catered to your needs, whether you want to master the language or just learn a few common phrases. With engaging content in all forms of media, though primarily audio, this is a great way to learn the language of love.
Babbel is an online language-learning platform with over 1 million active users. It’s available on the web, for iOS, and for Android. The app aims to get learners to a conversational level as quickly as possible through the use of a variety of exercises and spaced repetition for review. The courses are well put together and relatively inexpensive; there are 14 different languages available.
Grammar Hero is a product from Olly Richards, the creator of I Will Teach You A Language. It follows the story-based method of teaching languages, but this time with a focus on the most difficult grammar points. You start out by reading a story and the grammar point is underlined, later you learn the rules, then you re-read the story with explanations, and finally you’ll practice using the grammar point to express your thoughts and opinions. It’s a comprehensive method that’s meant to help you internalize the grammar.