by Liz Rothaus Bertrand
Hey, our generation of foreign language learners has got it pretty darn easy… Even though most of us can’t hop on a plane to a far away country at a moment’s notice, we can travel around the world at the touch of a screen or tap of a keyboard. So, do it! Grab a coffee and practically any tech device to access your own virtual global cafe.
There are thousands of online resources available — some of which are great and some which are, well, not-so-great. Here’s a guide to seven of our favorite online resources. Most of these can be accessed anywhere, anytime for no or very low cost. They are a fantastic way to enrich your language skills, outside of the classroom.
Do you have more suggestions? We’d love to know what great websites or apps you’ve discovered. (By the way, if you’re a fan of super convenient ways to practice your speaking, be sure to check back with us in Spring 2015 for details on our own plans to bring foreign language conversations online to your home or office via LA Chats.)
1.) YouTube: FREE
It’s not just for cute animal tricks and kids’ birthday party videos. Search for commercials, cartoons, news programs, clips from popular TV shows… just about everything can be found here in the language of your choice.
2.) TuneIn: FREE
Wouldn’t it be great if you could listen to soccer matches live in German or check out the latest news in Shanghai? You can and it’s absolutely free and in real time through this website and app featuring radio stations from around the globe. Check it out!
3.) Mindsnacks: $4.95
If you’ve got an iPhone, iPad or other apple device, you really need to download this app. You’ll have so much fun playing the games that you won’t even realize you’re picking up key vocabulary, grammar and common expressions. Watch out, it can become pretty addictive once you start. Available in French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.
4.) Netflix: $7.99
Hello streaming videos! You can find all sorts of foreign flicks and TV shows on Netflix. Watch them from your TV, tablet, smartphone, or even a Wii console! The first month is free… what are you waiting for?
5.) Daily Newspapers & other publications: FREE*
Many major dailies around the world can be accessed for free online. Get the local view about the places and stories that interest you most by browsing online. Click here for a comprehensive list of international publications to get you started. *Some publications require subscriptions for unlimited access to their articles.
6.) Coffee Break series from RadioLingua: FREE*
These fifteen to twenty minute podcasts, each focusing on a specific grammar concept or real life situation, can be quickly downloaded from the iTunes Store. Currently available in French, German and Spanish — Italian’s coming soon! *Additional materials available, including written lesson notes, if you purchase a subscription.
7.) Wordreference.com: FREE
This is a great online dictionary with translations between multiple languages. The best feature is an online forum where native speakers answer questions and provide context regarding use of specific phrases in their particular language.
Find out more great online resources for your favorite language by asking your instructor! Classes now enrolling at the The Language Academy of the Carolinas in English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. Call 704.548.0048 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.