Maybe you’ve met someone new. He’s handsome, kind, charming, and wants to take you sailing for the summer on his 100-foot yacht around the Mediterranean Sea. The only problem is, he speaks very limited English! Or… maybe you’ve become inspired to learn a language for another reason. Whatever it is, there’s never been a better time to learn a new language and culture. It’s okay if you didn’t take Spanish class in school. You can start today! You may think you can’t afford it, but there are actually many ways to learn another language for very cheap!
You can spend a ton of money on a language program, true. That doesn’t mean that you should count out this option, though. Many college courses are available, but are very expensive. Thrifty searching may reveal that there are classes in your city that can easily fit in your budget. Check with local community colleges and adult extension programs for courses in the language you want to learn.
Learn at Home
There are many different “at-home” solutions to learning a new language. Some are great. Some are not. Some are expensive. Some are affordable. You’ll have to do some research to find which one will fit you, but know that the resources are out there.
There are audio lessons available, usually in sets of CDs. One example is the successful Pimsleur Approach. Before you purchase a set, see if your library has what you’re looking for. They often do, and for free! There are also popular book programs, which are also available at the library.
High success rates have been cited with software programs such as Rosetta Stone. Research and price comparisons will be important if you choose to go this route.
Online, you’ll be able to find many sites that are helpful. A simple search for the language of your choice should bring up many options. You can find flashcards to help learn common words, translation tools and introductory lessons. You might also want to check out some podcasts, such as the ones you’ll find on iTunes. These will vary in quality and style, so be sure to try one out before you download the whole set.
Find a partner
Once you’ve started learning the basics of a language, there are many ways to improve your learning, and rapidly. One of the most productive methods of learning a language is by conversing with a native speaker. If you can find someone who speaks the language you want to learn, and who wants to learn English themselves, you can work out a deal! If you know a little French, and you find someone who speaks French as their first language, you’d be surprised at how much you can communicate! By both compromising, by using as much of the other’s language as you can, you’ll instantly see how much you can help each other. As you both have the same goal, you’ll be eager to help the other, correcting and assisting their (frequent) mistakes. You’re also sure to have some great conversations!
You might be able to find someone to talk to in a nearby campus, if they have international students or faculty. Also, some cities have a recent-immigrant association that may be worth looking into. Sites like Polyglot-Learn-Language.com and LingoZone.com might be able to hook you up with someone, or at least give you a pen pal! Both are free, too!
Of course, the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself into the culture. If you can visit a country that speaks the language you want to learn, do it! Of course, that is not an option for many people. Other ways include watching movies or reading simple books in the language. If you can find cultural centers focused around the language, see if you can get involved! There is no better way to learn a language than honest attempts at communication. The more authentic the experience, the more you’ll learn about syntax and how the languages are actually used in the cultures.
Do you speak a language besides English? Would you like to? How would you learn a language affordably? Tell us here!