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Best Free Language Learning Websites and Apps

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(Image credit: Thinkstock/Ingram Publishing)

Learning a new language is an important part of any young person’s education. And, whether starting in kindergarten or 12th grade, every student needs an abundance of practice in all aspects of language learning—from vocabulary and grammar to listening and speaking.  

With audio, video, and gamified lessons, the online environment can be an ideal place to learn and practice a second or third language. The following free sites and apps offer a wide variety of language learning resources for students of all ages. 

 Best Free Language Learning Websites and Apps 

  • Anki
    Anki is not just a flashcard language learning tool -- it’s a flashcard memory tool. Anki requires a free software download and has a steeper learning curve than the simpler language learning sites. But it’s one of the best flashcard-based systems available as it uses the research-proven spaced repetition flashcard method. Extensive text and video user support is provided as well.
  • BBC Languages  
    A collection of free language-learning resources, including courses and online video tutorials for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and dozens of others. BBC’s Guide to Languages  offers introductory facts, words, phrases, and videos about many of the world’s languages. 
  • Clozemaster   Web/Android/iOs
    Clozemaster’s charmingly retro font belies its modern, gamified approach to learning languages. Taking cloze testing to the next level, it provides multiple choice or text input games for common words, grammar challenges, listening skills, and more. It’s easy to set up a free account and start playing/learning languages, and the site keeps track of users’ progress. 
  • Duolingo    Web/Android/iOs
    Duolingo’s short gamified language lessons are fun and rewarding, with instant validation of correct answers and a scaffolded approach to learning. The site uses images to help users arrive at answers, as well as sound effects, which add to the entertaining aspect. Integrated with Google Classroom and Remind, Duolingo for Schools is free for teachers and students. 
  • Imendi
    Super easy-to-use free site for practicing vocabulary. Choose one of eight languages -- Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, French, Italian, Arabic, or Czech -- and start solving the digital flashcards. Switch languages or flashcards easily. Twelve lesson categories range from basic conversation to sports and hobbies. 
  • Lingq   Web/Android/iOs
    Lingq invites users to choose their own learning sources, from YouTube videos to bestselling books to popular music. Browse the extensive lesson library and check out videos with intriguing titles, such as “8 French Idioms to Complain like a French Person,” or simply follow the beginner, intermediate, and advanced guided courses. Free account includes thousands of hours of audio with transcript, access to all lessons on web and mobile, 20 Vocabulary LingQs, five imported lessons, and other features. Premium upgrades available
  • Lyrics Gap
    Lots of people struggle to learn a new language, so why not pair language learning with music? Lyrics Gap does just that by letting users fill in the missing words of popular songs in 14 languages. Provides thousands of free song exercises for users. Teachers, create a free account to start inventing your own missing-lyrics lesson!
  • Memrise   Web/Android/iOs
    Memrise offers not only a full panel of foreign languages to learn, but also topics in the arts, literature, STEM, and many more subjects. Learn basic vocabulary in your selected language through short video flash cards, which give users a chance to gain confidence by demonstrating learning right away. Freemium model. 
  • Open Culture
    On this site devoted to free educational and cultural learning resources, explore the extensive list of 48 foreign language courses, from American Sign Language to Japanese to Yiddish. The list links to free academic websites, podcasts, audio, video, and text resources for learning foreign languages. 
  • Polyglot Club
    Learn new languages, cultures, and customs by connecting with native speakers from around the world.  Advanced students and teachers can sell their language lessons or translation skills on the exchange.   
  • Talk Sauk
    Wonderful free digital resources for learning to understand, speak, and write the Native American Sauk language. A dictionary of selected words and phrases is accompanied by games, audio storybooks, and videos.
  • RhinoSpike
    Taking a different slant on language learning, RhinoSpike emphasizes listening and speaking above all else. The system is simple and innovative: Share a text file to be read aloud by a native speaker, then download the audio as a template for practice. Bonus -- help others to learn by recording audio in your native language, while boosting your own place in the text file queue.
  • Surface Languages
    An easy-to-navigate site providing free text and audio basics for learning 82 languages, including common phrases, numbers, days and seasons, foods, and more.

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