FSI Language Courses - Free online FSI language courses in the public domain

Foreign Service Institute / FSI Language Courses

FSI Language Courses designed by the State Department

Shortly after WWII, the Foreign Service Institute of the US State Department produced language courses for its employees serving on overseas assignments. These language courses were designed for complete beginners and included many hours of audio, as well as several repetition and response drills. The focus was on listening and speaking, and less so on reading and writing.

The FSI language courses are in the public domain and therefore have no copyright protection. Many of the courses are available to download for free and they were donated by generous people who spent many, many hours digitizing the course books and cassettes into PDF and MP3 formats. Since HTML versions do not yet exist, I am trying to convert the PDFs into webpages that integrate the sound files, but it’s a very time-consuming project. I would also like to make EPUB versions for more portability.

Available lessons:

I would like to add the Headstart Spanish and Portuguese next, as well as other courses eventually. I will also add notes where appropriate if the language has changed, i.e. if a certain word is no longer used.

For faster downloads of the mp3 files, try using the DownThemAll add-on with Firefox on the Contents pages. You can download the mp3s through my site or through the yojik or antibozo sites. Right-click on the file and choose Save As… to save the mp3 to your hard drive.

Please note that I am copying the text from PDF files, so there may be some spelling mistakes that I have missed in the OCR process. I’m trying to proofread as much as I can, but if you spot a mistake, please let me know so that I can fix it.

I welcome any and all help with this project!

A few others have begun converting some FSI courses to online versions or other formats (such as epub):

And some of the lessons of the second volume of the German Basic Course are available on Youtube, thanks to mithridates:

  • Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for your hard work on digitizing the FSI course material.

    I have resurrected the old 2006 http://www.fsi-language-courses.net website as well, where I host all the FSI material. I’ve made an easy option for people to download the course material in an easy one-step compressed file. It takes the hassle out of all downloading all the individual files which can be a bit of a pain for the larger courses.

    I’m also working on digitizing of these materials with the aim of putting them into an online web application (I am a web developer by trade).

    It’s great to see so much support for these materials.

    All the best,


    • Thanks Darren! Great to see another site hosting the FSI materials.

  • Very nice! That does look like a lot of work. I haven’t had time to work on converting any more lessons so I’m glad someone else is planning on doing it. Good luck!