Today we are celebrating the Digital Learning Day.
On today’s occassion I would like to take you for a ride among the most popular free online language courses. Many of these courses are MOOC courses. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. What that means is that it’s a course given on the internet, usually at college level, that is open to anyone to enroll (become a student). Many times, these courses are taught by real university professors, and they’re usually free. They are a fantastic way to take a real class taught by a real teacher, but without having to actually go to a university.
My subjective review of free online language courses:
Duolingo is perhaps one of the more well-known online language courses. Designed more like a game than a course, Duolingo is a fun way to squeeze in language learning on your lunch breaks or whenever you would otherwise be playing Candy Crush. Duolingo focuses on making language learning intuitive. You can connect with friends and family through Facebook using Duolingo.
An indispensable resource for language learners, Internet Polyglot also contains a feature that most other online courses don’t: the ability to translate lessons to and from any language they have available. Do you want to learn French through Spanish? No problemo, mon ami.
A website filled with free language courses, but with a twist: some of the lessons are pretty weird. Learning Spanish? Why not play around with the “Burrito Builder,” or brush up on your Japanese love phrases?
Memrise may not be a course in the traditional sense, but instead is a collection of user-generated courses in dozens of languages (including sign languages). Based on the spaced repetition technique, Memrise functions best as a resource for vocabulary retention. You can even create your own course to help you remember those specific terms that trip you up.
Would you like an MIT education? Wouldn’t we all? Thanks to MIT OpenCourseWare, you can download the syllabus and course material in the language class of your choice. Interested in a literature or culture class? MIT OpenCourseWare is a free & open publication of material from thousands of MIT courses, covering the entire MIT curriculum. No enrollment or registration. Freely browse and use OCW materials at your own pace. There’s no signup, and no start or end dates. Knowledge is your reward.
My Language Exchange is a great option for all the social animals:-) On this site you complete lessons with language learning buddies from all over the world. There are over a million members who speak upwards of 115 languages.
MyLanguages.org has lessons in 95 languages and all for free! Here you can learn vocabulary, grammar and quick phrases, and even quiz yourself on your knowledge. The courses on this site are mostly written (though they do collect some audio and video material), making them perfect for intermediate learners who need to review and refine their grammatical skills.
The self-proclaimed source of the “best free cultural & educational media on the web,” Open Culture is another awesome website that collects free courses and resources for its users (over 1000 free courses). It’s not exclusively dedicated to language courses, yet you can still find resources in over 40 languages.
Word2Word is a massive online database of free courses in 119 languages. What’s unique about this site is that it also points you in the direction of language learning forums and more general polyglot guides and resources. Word2Word contains links to tools and resources from all over the web in less common languages like Frisian and Malay.
Opened in 2007, Alison is considered by most to be the first MOOC. The website has over 750 courses. Its focus is on improving work skills to help you get a new job, or to get a promotion in your current job. Alison has an entire section of English language courses with lots of great English courses for all different levels.
Saylor is an advanced-level option and offers many courses for free. This website is a non-profit, meaning it doesn’t make any money from teaching online courses. There are no start dates here—all courses can be taken at any time.
Recommended for those beyond an intermediate level of English, The WEU is dedicated to 100% free college-level education. It lets you learn at your own pace, but makes sure that you’re keeping up. If you take a break for longer than 45 days, you can take a test covering the things you should have learned up to that point to refresh your memory.
For example: English Composition: This course will teach you how to write a good paper in English.
Recommended for advanced learners, Coursera is another MOOC that lets you learn at your own pace.
Each course has instructional videos, followed by quizzes and exercises you can take to make sure you understood the materials. There are a few peer-rated (graded by your fellow students) assignments, so it’s a good place to exchange information with other students who are learning just like you. Coursera has a huge number of partners, institutions and universities offering courses. More are constantly being added, so it’s worth checking back regularly to see if anything interesting has popped up.
14. Open Learning
OpenLearning uses a social media workflow to enable and encourage commenting and liking, meaning your course will foster a community of collaborative learners instead of individuals feeling lost in a sea of information.
They provide built-in galleries, wikis and blog pages to feature work and encourage collaboration and peer feedback, while always maintaining room for individuality.
Open Learning does work with a number of universities, so you can find a good mix of both professional and more casual courses here. Not all the courses on Open Learning are free, but there are some that are free and open to anyone.
Udemy wants to teach everything! There are over 25,000 courses to choose from, and even though not all of them are from well-known universities, they have some great classes to choose from. Not all the courses on Udemy are free, but there’s a good number of free ones. Udemy uses video lectures, written materials and quizzes to help you learn. You can watch a video or read a lesson, then test yourself to make sure you understood. You can go as fast or as slow as you want!
- English as a Foreign Language: This course teaches grammar through real conversation examples.
- English Grammar for Beginners: With this course, you can learn the basics of grammar and beginner level English.
This website is just for English learners from beginner to advanced.
MOOEC gives its courses as single lessons. If you’re not sure if online study is right for you, MOOEC is a good place to start, since it will take less of your time.
MOOEC was created in Australia, and some of the lessons make that very clear. There are some classes about places in Australia. Some of the spelling might be different from American English, so keep that in mind. For example:
- Common Mistakes: This course covers some of the most common English mistakes people make.
- Coffee Culture: For anyone interested in Australian English and culture, this class teaches everyday listening and speaking skills.
FutureLearn encourages students to be social and talk with the other people taking the same courses. With over a million enrolled in the classes here, there will be lots of people to talk to!
The courses offered come from 40 places all across the world, including some top British institutions like the British Council and British Museum. Lessons are given every week for a certain number of weeks. You can learn along with the class, which is highly encouraged (so you can talk to other students). But if the class doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can take it at your own pace. For example:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study: This one is designed for people interested in studying in an English-speaking country, but can be useful for any English learner.
- Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests: This course is excellent if you’re planning to take any English test, but especially the IELTS.
- Exploring English: Language and Culture: With this course, you can learn about British culture as you improve your English.
EdX is one of the biggest MOOC websites out there. It was created by Harvard and MIT. You can find a lot of college-level courses here, created and taught by actual professors from top universities.
You can actually earn college credits on edX, through Arizona State University. It’s not free, but it’s cheaper than being in an actual college. Some of the courses have certificates you can get for completing them. Most of these cost some money, so make sure you check the details before you sign up!
Like most other MOOCs, classes here are similar to college courses and some take a few weeks to complete. A certain number of hours is needed each week to learn all the material. You can learn along with the class, or read through a course after it’s complete.
- English Grammar and Style: This course for intermediate to advanced learners will help you become a better writer.
- Conversational English Skills: If you’re looking for something easier, this course helps you learn the basics of how to speak with others in English.
Quizlet is the world’s largest student and teacher online learning community. Every month, over 30 million active learners from 130 countries practise and master more than 140 million study sets on every conceivable subject and topic. Anyone can use Quizlet to study and learn content created by other users or to create their own custom study sets. You can also share sets with friends, classmates or your students.
Last but not least…
The first online language learning platform designed especially for IT and e-business professionals. With these online courses, you will master business language and the core vocabulary of IT and eCommerce industries, as well as practice reading and listening skills. Some of the most popular modules include Online Marketing, Internet Security and Website Development. Recommended for B1 level and above. Free for all Eklektika’s students!
- English for Online Security
- English for IT
- English for Online Marketing
- English for Online Payments
- English for e-Business
- English for the WWW
Ready to start your online courses? Good luck!
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