Parlez-vous français? Hablas español? Have you ever wanted to learn a new language?
Here are some inexpensive–or even free–ways to learn another language, including American Sign Language. Whether you’re just getting started with basic vocabulary or you’re ready to practice conversation over coffee, these resources will help.
Learn about apps, programs and websites that you can use anywhere, as well as some in-person resources in Charlotte.
Foreign Language Apps and Online Learning
Apps and online learning are excellent ways to jump start the learning process.
- Rosetta Stone
- ConjuVerb (Spanish verb conjugation helper)
These are all examples of online learning apps that teach you languages.
Often these companies offer a free version with commercials, and a free trial of the paid version, to get you started before the monthly fees begin.
Right now, there are two Groupons for Rosetta Stone. If you purchase a Groupon from this page, Charlotte on the Cheap will earn a small commission.
- 36% to 44% off a lifetime or one-year subscription
- 37% to 41% off a 12 or 24 month homeschool subscription
Groupon also has deals for other foreign language instruction programs.
While the apps can help you build your vocabulary and get comfortable with sentence structure, basic grammar and pronunciation, they probably won’t make you proficient and definitely won’t make you fluent.
To get to the next level of understanding you need to turn to a more immersive experience and possibly some formal learning.
Immerse Yourself as a Listener (and Reader)
Don’t rely on one source. It will take a degree of obsession to become fluent. Seek out opportunities to listen to speakers of the language you’re learning. Here are just a few ideas.
Tune-in Radio features stations from around the world, including music, news, talk radio and more. You can listen on your computer or your device. There’s a free version, and a premium version without ads.
Search Tune-In Radio by language to find radio shows in more than 100 languages.
Kids’ Shows on YouTube
If you search YouTube for “baby shows in Spanish” you’ll find some shows that teach Spanish to young children, but what is more helpful, if you’re looking for immersion, are the shows intended for Spanish-speaking children. Watching Peppa Pig in Spanish or Caillou in French is a good way to immerse yourself in a new language because the vocabulary will be simpler and more repetitive than in shows intended for adults.
Read and Look Up
Read articles that are written in the language you’re learning, and look up the words you don’t know. This will be time consuming, but you’ll know that you’re making progress when you need to look up fewer words.
MIT Libraries has organized a large number of foreign language newspapers, by language, but you can easily find more on the internet.
Listen to Stories
On The Fable Cottage, a free website, you can listen to a fable told in English, and then listen to it in French, Spanish, Italian or German. These stories are well-told, and with repeated listenings of the familiar tales, more and more of the words and phrases will become familiar. You can just listen, or you can see translations of sections of the audio as you listen.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library routinely offers free resources for those learning a foreign language. To find them, go to the library’s calendar, and select the tag “multicultural.”
The offerings will vary over time. Typically there are conversation clubs and tutoring in different languages.
Your library card also gains you access to Mango Languages, a language-learning software with over 70 world languages courses.
In-Person Foreign Language Classes in Charlotte
Here’s when your local community college comes in handy. Central Piedmont Community College offers classes (many in the evening) in:
- American Sign Language
Check out Central Piedmont Community College for current offerings.
Courses cost around $155 per semester.
These classes provide formal instruction to help you with grammar, verb conjugation, and syntax.
Practice with a Group
Now that you can put together a sentence, the next step is to practice listening and speaking the language. After all, people communicate primarily via speech. That’s where meetups and clubs come in handy.
There are many Meetup groups devoted to practicing foreign languages.
But, perhaps the best resource for learning a language in the Charlotte area is our diverse population of foreign-born residents. International House, at 1817 Central Avenue, helps Charlotte’s foreign-born residents successfully integrate into our communities by providing low-cost English classes and tutoring to help people prepare to become U.S. citizens.
The best way to gain fluency is to immerse yourself in conversation with native speakers, and that’s where International House can help you. They host multiple Language Conversation hours on a regular basis. You don’t have to register. Just show up at Room 202 at International House, at the right time, and start talking and listening.
If your goal for 2020 is to parlez or habla something new, these resources will help you get started.