Language learning has the reputation to be costly. You might need long expensive online courses, private one-on-one lessons, the best grammar textbooks, … and all those things t come at a high cost. The truth is, you don’t need a lot of money to learn a language. All the money in the world cannot buy you the two things you really need: time and consistency. In this post you can find tips to learn a language for free.

What do you need to learn a language?

    • A notebook

    • A pen

    • Access to the internet

But more important than material resources, your number one priority should be your mindset around learning new languages.

All you really need is will. 

Not to sound like a motivational speaker, but it is true. Good news, motivation is free.

With the spread of the internet and new technology, learning a language has never been easier. The hardest part of it is that you need to keep going. To learn a language is often compared to running a marathon. When it keeps getting tougher and tougher, when no matter how much you read, you still don’t understand a grammar point, no matter how many times you have read a new word, you still can’t remember it, that’s when you must keep going.

Will and consistency are key to learn a new language.

You cannot trust programmes that tell you that you will achieve fluency in three months, you won’t. Don’t trust those “learn Spanish for free in two months” adverts and most importantly, don’t spend money on them.

Language learning requires patience. It requires you to show up every day willing to learn, willing to make mistakes, and willing to start over and over again.

For that, you need to have a “why”.

In other words, know why you are learning. The best way to learn a language is to have goals around it, and goals you can stick to.

No matter whether it’s “I want to understand and communicate with my family” or something as simple as “I want to travel to x”, you need something to keep you going. Once your long-term goal is set, you need short-term goals in order not to lose your motivation. Some of my short-term goals for mandarin are: “I want to pass HSK4 this year”, “I want to practice my 汉子 writing for one hour a week”.

Where can you find free online resources?

Once you know why you are starting your language journey, or if you are more advanced, why you are continuing it, you can go ahead and find material online. You’re in luck, the internet is a never-ending nest of information waiting for you to use.

See where to start when learning a new language. 

Some free online language resources to start learning now.


Probably the first one most people think of. Not only does YouTube host thousands of videos from native speakers FOR FREE, it also has some of the most uncommon languages in the world, that you might struggle to find resources for on other platforms.

Since pronunciation and listening can be some of the toughest aspects of language learning to master, its audio and video format makes YouTube a great resource.

Free PDFs

Free language textbook PDFs are available all over the internet. You can print them, use them on your iPad if you have one, or simply take notes in a notebook.

A great app that has thousands of books in both PDF and audio form is Scribd. I use it pretty much every day on my daily walk, for language learning and for audiobooks.

BBC Languages

I’m sure most of you know of the BBC. But did you know they also have a section of their website dedicated to languages? It’s now in their archive, meaning is no longer being updated, but all the information is still available. They have podcast, blog posts, and (a great feature for advanced learners) TV transcripts, in more than 30 languages.

Free Apps

Duolingo, Busuu, Memrise, Lingoda, … there are hundreds and hundreds of language apps out there and most of them, although they have paid options, have an extensive list of sources completely for free.

However, beware of some of these apps as the content might not be the most useful. Duolingo is known for its odd sentences such as “the cat eats an orange”. Make sure it’s not the only source you use, but more of a fun game you play on the side at 10pm when you’re in bed and don’t really feel like opening a textbook.

Talking to natives

Many polyglots (if not all) will argue that the best way to learn a language is immersion.

Again, learning a language has never been easier! Whilst before you would have to either 1) live in an area where people speak your target audience or 2) already know natives, now we have great apps to talk to native speakers and improve your language level as you make friends.

Some of my favourite apps to speak with natives:

    • Hello Talk

    • Tandem

    • HiNative

And less obvious but just as good ones:

    • Quora

    • Reddit

    • Twitter (or any other social media used by your target language’s native speakers)








And here you go. Speaking a foreign language does not have to get you bankrupt, quite the opposite. Three years of consistent free resources is much more beneficial than two weeks of an expensive course. So what’s your excuse?

If you are learning Portuguese or French and are willing to pay for a professional teacher, feel free to book a trial class with me. You can get $10 off by using my link.

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