The best online language courses, plus expert advice on how to take them


Learning a foreign language is a bucket list item for many, but here’s how to stay motivated and inspired while doing it in isolation.

Amongst the start of a vegetable garden, complete a 15,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and revisit Friends, Seinfeld and The Office, the resolve to “learn another language” is quite high on the isolation to-do list.

But unlike the others, the goal of becoming bilingual is a little more ambitious.

According to Google Trends, Australians are looking to polish their German, Russian and Korean, with Auslan (the sign language of the Australian deaf community) also appearing high in searches. Other major languages ​​also include Japanese, Chinese, French, and Spanish.

But how do you make sure that the words and phrases you learn now don’t fade from your memory as soon as we are allowed out?

Speaking to, language teaching experts, Dr Michiko Weinmann and Dr Ruth Arber from Deakin University shared their ideas on how to make sure you actually learn this language. And don’t give up as soon as that initial spark of inspiration wears off.

They blamed incorrect “expectations of time and progress” as the reason people get demotivated halfway. Referring to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), they said that it takes around 200 hours of guided learning to progress through skill levels and that the CEFR has six levels, from beginner to very proficient.

“On top of that, you would factor in overtime for self-study and practice,” they added.

“Unless the goal is to learn a few basic sentences in a language, studying a language is a goal that will require a long-term commitment to progress and gain fluency.

“Language learning is not a linear process. There will be times when you stabilize yourself from when you feel like you are making huge improvements in your learning. Be patient and persevere, it’s part of the learning process.

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Despite this, Dr Weinmann and Dr Arber said there was no better time to learn a language than now.

“Many resources that are generally only available as paid resources have been made available for free or at a reduced price by commercial vendors (at least for a while while the COVID-19 lockdown is in place).

“People have also gone to great lengths to organize resource lists or language learning centers. It is therefore the right time to access many resources and materials, which are at your fingertips.

Speaking of… if you’re looking for how to learn a language, take a look at these apps and online courses.

1. babbling

Supported by researchers at Yale University, Babbel uses short lessons to teach users to listen, speak, and write in the language of their choice. The app uses speech recognition technology to make sure you are pronouncing the words you are learning correctly.

There are 14 languages ​​offered and the app has received an Apple App Store rating of 4.6 out of 103,700 ratings.

Find out more here.


If you prefer not to go the self-taught route, VLLC has been teaching languages ​​since 1989. Their online offering guarantees students to participate in exercises based on visualization and association, as well as online courses and individual tutorials with native. speakers.

There are 12 languages ​​offered, including Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin.

Find out more here.


One of the most well-known language learning apps, Duolingo claims that you will be able to speak a new language in just three months by investing just 10 minutes a day. Ambitious? Maybe a touch, but the design and user experience is engaging and fun.

The app offers 35 languages ​​and all course material is free. Members have the option to upgrade to Duolingo Plus for $ 21.49 per month (six and 12 month plans are also available), which removes ads, unlocks additional quizzes, and gives you the option to download lessons for offline use.

Find out more here.

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A world-renowned polyglot, Benny Lewis recounts how he became fluent in eight languages, conversational in four, with an additional core understanding of 12.

It is loosely based on his bestselling book of the same name and guides users through his strategies on how to “hack” language learning.

The online course also includes interviews with language learning experts as well as immersion resource kits and conversational connector packages depending on the chosen language.

Find out more here.


While online programs that cater specifically to a language are often more expensive, they do have their advantages.

The formal setting of these lessons can provide structure and accountability to make sure you stay on track, and they often include ways to practice with other students.

Some of these programs include:


As for advice on how to stick to learning a new language, the Australian Language Officer and Deputy Director of the Goethe-Institut, Eva Baker, shared her advice:

• Practice it with other people in an authentic environment. The key to successful language learning is to actually use the language.

• Find a study partner with whom you can practice your target language by phone or video call. There are also language learning communities on the internet that you can join and where you can find like-minded language learners. The Goethe-Institut offers a free learning community called German fur ditch .

• You must practice all language learning skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking.

• Pay attention to grammar. Learning the grammar of a new language is the basis for correct use of the language.

• Immerse yourself. Even if you are not actually in the country where the language you are learning is spoken, there are plenty of ways to do it. You might want to watch a movie or TV series in your target language with subtitles or listen to radio programs or subscribe to a podcast.


Sylvester L. Goldfarb

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