How to learn a new language for free

How to learn a new language for free

by Laura Jones

Updated November 9, 2022

Are you wondering how to learn a new language for free? You’re in luck! In this article, you’re going to read about multiple ways you can start or continue your language learning journey without having to pay for it. From apps and language partners to TV shows and YouTube, you’re sure to find a strategy that works for you so you can teach yourself any language for free. 

Learn languages at your pace

How to learn Spanish for free

Watch a movie or TV show

Can you combine fun and language learning? Of course! Start by watching a movie. Watch the colorful films of director Pedro Almodóvar or, if you’re looking for a TV series, try the lighthearted “Valeria”, set in Madrid, or try the Mexican black comedy, “La Casa de las Flores”. There are plenty of shows that switch back and forth between English and Spanish too, like “Narcos” and “White Lines”. 

Check out a podcast

Don’t be put off from using podcasts to learn Spanish if you’re a beginner; they’re a brilliant way to practice your listening skills for free. Keep up with what’s happening in the world with “News in Slow Spanish” or listen to simple Spanish conversations with “Notes in Spanish”. To learn Mexican Spanish, check out “Doorway to Mexico”.

Use a free app

Build up your Spanish vocabulary at your own pace with an app like Anki, which uses spaced repetition to help you remember new words. Cudu is an app you can use to practice daily conversations in Spanish in text form. 

Find a language partner

Doing a tandem language exchange is an excellent way to learn a new language for free. Take a look at Idyoma or Tandem to find an online partner. If you want to meet someone in person, check out Bumble BFF to meet someone who has similar interests as you and just find someone to chat to or go to an event with.

Learn a skill in Spanish

If you want to combine language learning with learning another skill, look for something culture-specific and find YouTube videos in Spanish to instruct you. You might want to learn to dance flamenco or to cook some Latin American food like arepas or empanadas

Resources to learn French for free

Binge a French TV show

France is well-known for its excellent cinema but in recent years, its TV series have been reaching a wider audience too, partly thanks to Netflix. If you’re into crime shows, tune into “Lupin” or if you prefer a bit of comedy, try “Dix pour cent” or the rom-com “Plan Coeur”. Put French subtitles on if you need to, and keep a notebook nearby for new phrases. 

Listen to a podcast

Looking for pure listening practice? Try a podcast in French. You can start small by listening to the four-minute podcasts from “Daily French Pod” before moving on to “Inner French”, where you’ll listen to the delightful Hugo talk about current affairs in France. If you really want to challenge yourself, have a listen to “Sur La Route” and follow Julie Gacon around France.

Try a free app

There are lots of excellent free apps to help you learn French, particularly if you want to focus on vocabulary. For flashcards made digital, download Memrise or the visually beautiful Drops. If you’re looking for an on-the-go dictionary, get Linguee and see millions of words and phrases in context.

Find someone to practice with

Will someone want to speak French with you for free? Absolutely, if you look in the right place. There are plenty of native French speakers who are learning other languages who’d love to do a free language exchange with you. On Interpals, you’ll find people willing to chat with you or become your pen pal if you want to practice your writing skills. If you’re in France, take a look at the Alliance française website, as they sometimes offer cultural meetups open to all. 

Cook a French recipe

As France is also pretty famous for its food, you might want to try cooking a recipe in French (the results might be a bit hit or miss if you’re a beginner, c’est la vie). Start off with something easy like ratatouille and graduate to a soufflé when you’re feeling bold. 

Learn languages at your pace

Ideas to learn English for free

Watch TV and movies

Wherever you are in the world, it’s likely you already watch TV shows in English. If you can, try turning off the dubbing and watch in English without subtitles. Otherwise, head over to a streaming service. If you’re looking for something very British, check out “The Crown” and learn about the royal family or watch one of the many great police dramas like “Line of Duty”. 

There are so many movies and TV shows that come out of the US, it’s hard to know where to start, but “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos” are often voted as the best TV shows of all time.

Put on some music or a podcast

English-language music has also infiltrated pretty much everywhere. The Beatles’ songs often have fairly simple lyrics but the sky’s the limit so sing your heart out to your favorite artist for a free way to learn this new language. If you’re trying to entertain children and learn a language at the same time, check out Australia’s “The Wiggles” (don’t blame us if the songs get stuck in your head!).

Go to a meetup or download an app

In most big cities around the world, whether they’re in English-speaking countries or not, you’ll probably be able to find meetups to chat to people with the same interests as you. Check out Meetup to find a group of people who share your interests. If you prefer to meet someone virtually, download the HelloTalk app and find native speakers to practice with across the globe.

Binge on YouTube videos

There are millions, billions even, of YouTube channels in English, so whatever you’re into, you’ll find a channel to watch. Let’s focus on channels specifically designed to help you learn English here. BBC Learning English publishes a new lesson every day and topics include news stories, pronunciation and grammar. Everything, basically. If you’d rather learn American English, take a look at the similar channel VOA Learning English. And let’s not forget Canada! Bob the Canadian’s videos will help you learn to talk about a huge range of everyday topics in English.

Ways to learn German for free

Discover German TV

German TV shows haven’t reached as big an audience as their French or Spanish counterparts but that’s all the more reason to get ahead of the game and start watching them before everyone else does. Get a taste of Weimar Germany with “Babylon Berlin” or travel back to the ‘80s with “Deutschland 83”. If you want to go even further back in time, watch the miniseries “Charité” and follow a nurse in a 19th-century Berlin hospital as medical advances are made at a pace. 

Try out a podcast

Remove the visual clues with a podcast. “Coffee Break German” is designed specifically for beginners but if you’re more advanced, you can listen to anything. Check out podcasts from Deutsche Welle to keep up to date with German current affairs or listen to “Gemischtes Hack” for a good laugh.

Keep learning with an app

If you need some practice to perfect that tricky German grammar, try Lingvist, an app that helps you broaden your vocabulary within grammatically correct sentences. Need more grammar practice? The app DerDieDas lets you put in any noun and shows you which noun article goes with it. For conversation practice, find a native-speaking partner with Speaky.

Check out these YouTube channels

YouTube has a wealth of content to help you learn German. Search for Learn German with Anja if you want to watch fun German lessons on YouTube and learn German in an un-German way (her words, not oursmine!). Goethe-Institut has a lot of videos about Germany and learning German – you could start with the “Deutsch lernen in Deutschland” series. If you’re an advanced learner, check out the popular comedian Phil Laude.

Ready to learn a language for free?

Now you know how to learn a new language for free, what are you waiting for? By belting out your favorite tune, immersing yourself in an excellent TV show or attempting to follow a recipe in your target language, you’ll be able to learn any language without paying a cent. If you’re ready to take it further, sign up for a class with Lingoda and learn German with a native speaker.

Learn languages at your pace

Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

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