How to Teach Yourself Spanish, Japanese, and Other Languages for Free
If you’re wondering how to teach yourself Spanish, Japanese, or whichever language you’re interested for free, then you’ve come to the right place.
Everyone thinks learning a language is expensive. It can be expensive if you enroll in a language school, buy brand new textbooks, and pay for tutors.
But I know many people who have learned a language without breaking the bank by mainly using the free resources available to them and putting in the effort that’s required.
Below I’ve gathered up a list of free (and very cheap) resources you can use to save money and learn languages efficiently.
Go to meetups
Chances are, if you live in a big city, there’s a community of international exchange students lurking somewhere. Even if you’re city is small, there’s a good chance that a local cafe hosts meetups and language exchange. Not only is this a cheap (sometimes free) way to study a language, but it’s also a great way to meet new people.
Discover meetups in your area by signing up for Meetup, browsing local language groups on Facebook, or by checking out your local community center or language school.
From my experience, the best meetups are those that are 1 on 1. Especially if you’re a beginner. This way, you can speak more and not have to wait for others to finish their round of speaking. I find the larger the group, there’s a higher chance that things start to go off-topic. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your laptop or notepad so you can keep track of new vocabulary that comes up.
Take advantage of social media
A good way to practice your reading and writing (typing, I guess) in another language is to simply search for native speakers on Twitter or Instagram. This is where hashtags come in handy.
Since I’m studying Japanese, I search for topics I’m interested in using hashtags in Japanese. For example, #ホッケー (hockey) and read through posts in Japanese related to the sport. Also, I will comment if I see anything interesting and if I get a reply, then I’ll try and continue the conversation.
What I like about this is I get to interact with others and we can talk about subjects we enjoy. Steve Kaufmann has always said, the more interesting the content that you’re studying, the more motivated you’ll become.
Join online communities
The Internet contains a never ending stream of amazing and free content that you can use to study. The important part is finding compelling content so you never get bored. Start getting involved in online communities and see what types of content other learners are using. Ask them questions and share your tips.
I enjoy Reddit (more specifically, r/LearnJapanese). Many learners on Reddit post their favorite resources which you can easily try yourself. It’s also a great place to build relationships with other language learners and get helpful feedback.
You can also try finding online communities on forums, Facebook, Stack Exchange, Slack, and much more.
Try and post at least once a day. This way you’ll start building a habit of typing in your target language and you’ll also make yourself more known in the community.
Check out the Library
This one should be a no-brainer. The library is chock-full of free language learning resources, such as textbooks and audio CDs. All you need is a library card 🙂
Read textbooks and listen to audio as much as you can, especially if you’re in the beginning stages of your language studies. Anything you don’t understand, find a place to write it down and go back to it each day until it sticks with you. Spaced repetition works well when it comes to memorizing new pieces of information and you can use a variety of online tools for this.
Free Stuff on LingQ
There’s a lot of free content out there.
If I were to list every source imaginable, this post would go on forever. I didn’t even mention podcasts, YouTube videos, streaming websites, and so on. Luckily, by joining a meetup or an online community or by googling, you’ll be discover more content than you can imagine.
The problem is finding a way to keep all your resources organized.
I don’t know about you but the last thing I need when I’m studying Japanese are 10 tabs from different websites and checking Google translate to look up new vocabulary. Not only is this distracting but it’s also time consuming.
That’s why there’s LingQ, so you can import all the content you enjoy into one place and read, listen, and review at the same time.
LingQ is FREE to try!
When you sign up, you’ll have access to new content, LingQ’s popular forum.
You can import new vocabulary into LingQ to review at a later date. LingQ incorporates a spaced repetition system into it’s platform so you can study more effectively.
You can also submit posts on the writing exchange and receive feedback from native speakers. This is something I use before submitting my Japanese to places like Reddit or before showing a friend 😉
However, you won’t have the ability to import content into LingQ and the number of vocabulary you can save (also known as LingQing) is limited to 20.
The Cheap Way to Study a Language
For $10 a month, you can change all that.
You’ll gain the ability to import content allowing you to have an infinite number or resources to help you study your favorite language.
“But $10 a month?! That’s expensive!”
Well, actually, it’s not.
For example, take a look at Jennifer O’Donnell’s post, All The Money I Wasted Trying To Learn A New Language.
According to her, while studying Japanese she wasted:
$250 on textbooks
$1,568 wasted on teachers
$20,000 wasted on an MBA (holy!)
Now, let’s look at my situation. I’ve made a goal to speak conversational Japanese in two years. Rather than do what Jennifer (and countless others have) I can just use LingQ. At $10 a month, I only need to spend a total of $240 dollars. This gives me access to all the content I need and to organize it in a way that makes studying easier and more efficient. Add some time to interact with others (whether online or in person) and that’s all I need.
With all the Money You Can Save, Take a Trip
Nothing is better than becoming fully immersed in your target language’s environment. By following this guide, you can use the money you were planning to spend on textbooks and schools and put it towards a trip.
If you have the time and patience, you may be able to find cheap flights by diving deep into Google Flights, or you can use a site like Flystein.
Check this out.
For a small fee, Flystein guarantees that they can beat the price of your airplane ticket! On average, they’ve saved their customers $250 on flights. Not bad, right?
They can also help you find tickets at the best possible price and “build” your trip. This is not only a money saver, but a time saver as well.
There you have it, learning a new language doesn’t have to be expensive. The biggest cost is time but learning a new language is an investment and a very good one at that.