Earlier today we mentioned a plugin for AIM that would translate what you type on the fly into another language. That’s an exceptionally useful tool, but the far more fluid and accurate way to speak to people in another language, is to actually learn the language. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of ways to learn languages online, many of them available for free. Below is a list of more than 20 ways you can go from knowing how to say “Hello” to fluency.
- Mango Languages: 12 different online language courses presented in conversational format with prices starting at free.
- Vocabulix: Free vocab building lessons in Spanish, German and English, as well as other languages, with a baked in social network.
- Pod Network: Spanishpod – Frenchpod – Chinesepod – Free online lessons in three languages.
- BBC Languages: A host of language learning tools and self-contained online courses from the BBC.
- eLanguageSchool.net: Free lessons for learning 10 different languages online.
- Linkua: An online marketplace of real-life language tutors. There’s nothing like learning a language directly from a native speaker.
- LiveMocha: This site combines lessons, with an online community allowing you to practice speaking with native speakers, which dovetails nicely into the next set of sites.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, you need to practice. That’s not always easy if you’ve been learning on your own and no one around you speaks your new language. The sites below will help you hook up with a native speaker — usually over VoIP — to practice speaking.
- SharedTalk: A language exchange covering 113 languages from the makers of the popular RosettaStone language learning software.
- xLingo: A language exchange that lets users create and share flashcards with each other.
- Palabea: Reviews of language learning software in addition to an online language exchange.
- iTalki: A language exchange with a Yahoo! Answers-style QnA site, and a wiki-based public knowledge base for 10 different languages.
- Huitalk: Forums, articles, vocabulary lists, and a language exchange using Skype.
- Interpals: A large language exchange from a popular penpal social network.
- Mixxer: A free language exchange using Skype built by Dickinson College.
- TT4You: A free global language exchange site.
- Language Buddy: A free language exchange with 115 supported languages.
- Convesation Exchange: Text and voice chat, email, or face-to-face meetings can bet set up via Language Buddy to improve your conversational skills.
- Lingozone: Build vocab skills by playing game of Word Ladder and Hangman, while making friends with whom to practice speaking.
- Language Exchange Network: Think Craigslist for language learning; this site has super-simple language exchange classified listings.
- MyLanguageExchange: One of the oldest online language exchanges (this site was a Yahoo! Internet Life pick in 2001), it claims over 1 million members speaking 115 different languages.
- Language Exchange: A language exchange application for the Facebook platform.
Bonus Site: ASL Fingerspelling: Test your American Sign Language chops by watching online spelling demos and guessing the word.