Learning languages for free with the internet.

Tip of the day: Use the internet to take advantage of the public domain.

Foreign Service Institute Language Courses: Designed and written by the US government but with no copyright protection. You can download the texts (PDF format) and audio files (mp3s) for free. Not all languages are available for download as the site depends on user contributions and it takes a long time to scan the books and digitize the audio cassettes. Best for beginners because there is a lot of repetition and drills.

The following languages are available: Amharic, Arabic (Levantine & Saudi), Bulgarian (text only), Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Chinyanja (link currently broken), Finnish (audio only), French, German, Greek, Hausa (text only, but see below), Hindi (text only), Hebrew, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian (text only), Kituba (text only), Korean, Lao, Luganda (text only), Moré, Portuguese, Romanian (text only), Russian (text only), Spanish, Sinhala (text only), Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Vietnamese, and Yoruba (text only).

If you plan on downloading several files, try the DownThemAll add-on with Firefox. Instead of right clicking and downloading each file individually, you can download them all (hence the name) in one click. Plus it makes downloading much, much faster.

Also check the Forum to see if more materials are available (such as .torrents), but have not been uploaded to the site yet. For example, Serbo-Croatian, Igbo and Hausa PDFs and mp3s can be downloaded as torrents.

Project Gutenberg: Electronic version of books whose copyright have expired in the US (essentially all books published before 1923 and some published before 1964). Many classic books in several languages are available.

Children’s Library: Famous children’s stories in many languages (again, with expired copyrights), some with audio so you can listen while you read.

Thanks to the public domain, sometimes you don’t need to spend any money on language resources. If you do choose to buy language books, beware of certain publishers who copy the FSI courses and publish them for profit. For example, Barron’s Mastering Hebrew is the FSI course, which you can download for free!

P.S. The Defense Language Institute also produced language materials and they are available as micro-fiched PDF documents through the ERIC database. Unfortunately, there is no audio available and they’re a bit more cumbersome to download (you must do them one by one). The following languages can be found by searching for Defense Language Institute + the language + Full Text only: Albanian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Czech, French, German, Haitian Creole, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean (advanced), Malay (intermediate advanced), Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai.

Les Grandes Médiévales d’Andilly

Haute-Savoiers? Haute-Savoiens? People in Haute-Savoie! (And anyone else who is interested…) The annual medieval festival in Andilly will be held May 17 & 18 and May 24 & 25 this year. Price is 17 € a day for adults; 10 € for kids. Andilly is located halfway between Annecy and Geneva. Open 10 am until […]

Full Story »

Why I love Germany

A German with a sense of humor does exist. I was watching Deutsche Welle last night and it was actually in German instead of English. I swear every time I turn on that channel, people are talking in English… Anyway, there was a report on Moritz Volz (he’s a Fulham footballer/soccer player) and how he […]

Full Story »

Things I learned today

Le premier mai is la fête du travail (labor day) and the only day in France when anyone can sell flowers legally – not just florists. You will see tons of people and places (if they’re open…) selling muguets (lily of the valley) because it’s supposed to bring good luck to whomever you give them […]

Full Story »

The End Again

Yesterday was my last day as an English assistant for the second year. I’m glad to no longer have to drive nearly an hour to work, but not so happy about no longer having an income. I have a feeling I won’t be able to find another teaching job until September – maybe I’ll even […]

Full Story »

Adventures in Berlin & Budapest

I’m so exhausted, but I wanted to upload my photos from my week in Berlin & Budapest. Both cities were definitely worth visiting. Berlin was über cheap, but rather sad because of its history (both WWII and the Cold War). Budapest’s architecture was beautiful, but it felt a bit too foreign to me since I […]

Full Story »

Off to Germany and Hungary

I leave this afternoon for Berlin and Budapest. I won’t be back until late Friday night, and I probably won’t get online much during the week. I’m excited about seeing two new countries but I’m not so excited about flying. If only it weren’t so much cheaper and faster than taking trains. The liquid restrictions […]

Full Story »

About About.com

There are very few language sites that offer useful, free information to help you actually learn the real language (slang, idioms, informal speech, etc.) About.com’s language sites do include a lot of useful information, but the problem is finding what you want among the bazillion pages and sponsored links that look exactly like the content. […]

Full Story »

Marathon of the Annecy Lake (including walk on the lake in boat)

The Lake Annecy marathon and half-marathon were this past Sunday, April 13. Obviously I did not run in it (me? run? HA!), but it’s usually a big deal in Annecy every year. I’d like to point out the English version of their website, however, and how badly it was translated. It almost seems like a […]

Full Story »

Que faire ? / What to do?

Peut-être avez-vous remarqué que je fais un effort pour parler (euh, écrire) plus en français. Maintenant que j’ai le droit de travailler dans ce pays, il faut trouver un boulot. Et pour trouver un boulot, il faut bien parler français ! Cependant, j’ai peur de ne pas réussir. Aux Etats-Unis, j’étais intelligente, brillante, sage… J’ai […]

Full Story »

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

Support ielanguages.com

The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is available as a PDF book. It has been updated with much more vocabulary, sample sentences, and cultural information, plus extended vocabulary lists, cross-referenced topics, and an alphabetical index.

Visit the Store to buy the PDF e-book for $14.95 or paperback book for $29.95.