Studies have shown that children have the greatest capacity for learning new languages – and the younger they start, the better. What’s more, the world is becoming smaller as kids today are digital natives, interacting with people all over the world via the World Wide Web. What better way to help your child understand a different culture than learning a language?
There are tons of websites offering free language learning resources, but many merely throw out a bunch of phrases for different scenarios for you or your child to memorize and regurgitate. So we’ve done the hard work and picked out the best 10 free language learning sites. These sites will help your child build a strong foundation for real understanding and fluency and complement formal lessons, rather than just providing a smattering of tourist survival phrases with which to stumble along in life.
Less than a year old and rapidly gaining fame on the Internet, Duolingo is a completely free language learning site. The structured skill tree and excellent algorithm introduces new words together with spaced repetition of previously learned vocabulary, and users grasp grammar by translating phrases to/from English. You can choose to learn French, German, or Spanish, with Italian and Chinese courses on the way.
Pangaea Learning offers comprehensive audio lessons and games on each of their websites. Besides the usual Spanish, French, or Italian, you can even learn Hebrew and Arabic.
The BBC Languages page gathers useful practice resources for learners, from actual news for practising listening skills to worksheets and tests.
As the world’s largest online language learning community, Livemocha fuses traditional learning methods with online practice and interaction with native language speakers from around the world. Learners are also required to practise by writing and speaking in the new language. However, parents should monitor children using LiveMocha to ensure online safety.
Created by the British Council, LearnEnglish Kids is a portal available in Chinese, Arabic, Russian, French and Spanish, helping native speakers of these languages learn English more easily. With numerous games, stories, and other resources, your children will find learning and practising English much more fun.
This colorful website introduces children to the Japanese language and culture with 8 well-structured lessons, Hiragana and Katakana charts, and introductions to countless elements of Japanese culture from manga to sports to food.
Byki, which stands for Before You Know It, offers both free and paid language learning software for a jaw-dropping 72 languages. The community at Byki also share free flashcards and word lists that your child can use online.
Colorful website with plenty of books, Flash games, and printable worksheets that make learning Spanish fun and engaging for children.
9. Voyage Kids
Voyage Kids is a virtual world for children to learn German using games, quizzes, and activities. There’s also a section for teachers and parents to contribute content and download project ideas.
This website by the Confucius Institute Online teaches the basics of Mandarin Chinese in context using short animated clips. While it doesn’t cover written Chinese, learners will learn to read hanyu pinyin and get a grasp of the four tones.