What’s an Affordable Way to Learn a Language?

Chinese bookLearning a new language is a challenge that can be very rewarding.  However, there are many programs out there that claim to make it easy to learn but come with a high price tag.  I’m hear to say that you do not have to pay a fortune to learn a new language.

Lessons on CDs

Rosetta Stone is a popular program.  In the past you had to decide in the beginning how many levels you would like to complete and pay a price up to $499.  Now due to competition it looks like you can have access to everything for a bit over $200.  Pimsleur is another method but it seems to have retained its high price at $450.  I have tried both and liked that I could do Pimsleur in the car but found Rosetta Stone so repetitive that I returned it with their money back guarantee (unknown if they still have that).  So if you want these types of lessons how can you get them without paying a fortune?  Well, the trick is to borrow them!

Language books

I have found college level textbooks to be a great way to learn the language.  You can go at your own pace and there is a lot about the structure of the language, vocabulary, and learning the fundamentals.  Where a book is weak is in its inability to speak.  You could have all the writing skills, but without speech and pronunciation you will have trouble getting around.  Luckily there is a solution and it is speaking with those who know the language you are learning.

Finding native speakers

Native speakers will be a huge help, but how do you find them if you live somewhere where everyone speaks English or those who you are searching for do not want to help?  Well the internet is the solution.  There are many websites dedicated to pairing people who know the language the other wants to learn.  You can connect on Skype or other methods, but you will get to hear how it should sound.  In return you assist them with English and it works out beautifully.  I have had success using Mixxer to find partners.  In addition, YouTube has many language lessons and you could even post your speech and ask for feedback.  Use these free resources and you’ll find yourself improving and learning about other cultures as well.

Library and eBay

The library is worthy of its own article at a later date, but you should check out your library to see if you can check out language lessons.  Our library has many resources and that is how I accessed the Pimsleur CDs for free!

If you have no luck at the library the next option is to buy something that you can resell for about the same price.  If you do some research and decide you would like to buy some CDs you can do so, download the content to your computer, and then resell them.  This way you are getting the full benefits of the CD for a fraction of the cost.  For this to work you can not buy something that is a one time registration or user account.

Local courses

Another resource is courses at a community college, cultural center, our language school. That order is likely ascending in cost, but taking a course with others is a good way to stay motivated and practice with others.


Depending on your desire to learn and willingness to spend you can find a learning method right for you.  I recommend not paying until you are certain you are are going to continue with the language and try free resources if available.  Currently I am taking a Chinese course at the the community college and I read lots of Portuguese on my Brazilian friend’s Facebook feeds.  I still my Korean textbook from college in case I want to brush up. During college I went all out on language learning because adding an extra class didn’t cost me anything other than time and effort.

Good luck.

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