What are the best language courses online to become multilingual?
Image an everyday situation in a country where you don’t speak the local language. Your destination may just be the nearest subway stop, grocery store or simply the washroom and you need to ask for directions.
Using your hands and random words you may know, you then try to understand the response. But, it can be overwhelming sometimes. We all have made that experience, haven’t we? Well, being multilingual can not only save you confusion, misunderstandings or even embarrassment but also open new doors of opportunity.
In this review, we cover the best language courses online to help you start learning a second or even multiple languages. It’s worth the effort. You will be able to ask for directions easily and also indulge in conversations with people from around the world.
Why Language Courses Online – Benefits
Other than being able to converse in a different countries, how can learning another language enhance your life? According to a 2016 BBC Future article, some brain benefits of multilingualism include faster stroke recovery and slower onset of dementia.
Personal growth – Being a polyglot opens you up to a wider range of communication, career, business and relationship choices too. In a TedEd video, an expert illustrated that being able to think in multiple languages can be applied to excelling in mathematics and music. Your lingual dexterity can easily broaden your knowledge or sphere of influence.
Systematic learning – Enrolling in the best language courses to learn popular languages such as English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, German or Mandarin can get you a long way. They offer a systematic approach to learn and understand the structure of your preferred language and help develop and increase basic or advanced vocabulary.
Language courses vs apps – One of the key differences here is that in a language course you go through a structured and organized learning process and usually get access to a tutor, group conversations, tutorials or learning material.
Best Language Courses Online 2021 – Top 4
|Pimsleur||Skillshare Languages||Udemy Languages||Rosetta Stone|
|14.95/month||from $8.99/month||from $11.99/course||from $8.99/month|
|Free 7-Day Trial||Free 14 Days Trial||No trial available||Trial Available|
|Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Read Review|
1. Pimsleur by Simon and Schuster
Developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur PhD, Pimsleur is one of the longest-running language learning programs available and also well-established. His book, How to Learn a Foreign Language, gives readers a deeper understanding of his patented Pimsleur Method.
The method employs recall in intervals, anticipation and participatory learning on top of core vocabulary. He is quoted as saying “Learn the hardest thing first and the rest will seem easy.” Things have evolved for this decades-old system – Alexa can help you with core lessons. You can try Pimsleur 7-days for free here.
One criticism is that it doesn’t teach enough vocabulary. Pimsleur defends this truth, saying it’s intentional and that too much vocabulary focus impedes the learning process. All language courses use native speakers. Users should expect a variety of accents.
Overall, this is one of the best language courses online and offline to get a structured learning experience with proven methods applied. Note, beware of look-alike language courses online such as pimsleurapproach and others; mockery is the best form of flattery!
Languages: 50+ | Review Rating: ★★★★★
Pricing: $14.95/monthly plan | $21.95 for 5 lessons | $119.95 for 30 lessons
Trial: Free 7 Days Trial. Try for free.
Also stocking a wide range of course options, from the romance languages in 3-minute chunks to ASL, a detailed search on SkillShare should get you what you need. Here are three Skillshare language courses worth noting:
Spanish for Beginners. The Complete Method – In Peter Hanley’s “non-stop SPEAKING Spanish course” he teaches you “EL MÉTODO” to come to the point of employing practical phrases for everyday conversations.
American Sign Language – Intellezy Trainers begin at Level 1 giving students a foundation in ASL. They include some background on how the language came about (always a plus), beginning fingerspelling, and many other basics.
3-Minute French for Beginners – Kieren Ball’s fun method is taught in short, focused lessons with practice in 3 minute chunks. These 3-Minute language courses are also available in Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese (both Iberian and Brazilian).
Language courses: 30+
Review rating: ★★★★☆
Pricing: From 8.99/month. GET a free trial here!
3. Rocket Languages
Their header says “Everything you need to learn a language from home”. Many happy polyglots swear by Rocket for helping them master their language of choice after years of use. This is an online-based course program designed to help you in all the usual ways the best language courses online should do.
Among a selection of European and Asian languages, they teach ASL and they offer English learning specifically for Spanish and Japanese-speaking learners. On the downside, reviewers occasionally mention that customer service was non-responsive when they had technical issues.
Rocket Languages offers lifetime access to their language courses through a level-based system ranging from Beginners to Advanced (1/2/3). While students certainly need to pay upfront first, the benefit is long-term access to lessons, grammar and exercises. You can try it for free though; see the selection of languages below.
4. Udemy Language Courses Online
Of course, Udemy the big box warehouse of online courses would have a robust selection of language courses online. And yes, there are a wide selection of topics and languages available focusing on various learning goals and outcomes.
You can take beginners Azerbaijani and isiXhosa courses. For doctors headed to Finland, there’s Basic Finnish for Medical Professionals. However, here are 3 of the best Udemy language courses that are worth noting:
How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language – Anthony Metivier helps you create “Memory Places” for language and evolve your thinking. His only requirement is “willingness to experiment”.
Learn How to Speak a Language in 6 Months – Mustafa Erdogan teaches you hacks used by the best polyglots, and how to “integrate your new language into your life”.
Rapid Language Learning: Unleash Your Inner Polyglot – The subtitle is “How to learn any language in an incredibly short time for travel, business or pleasure”. Chris Martins says you can compress one year of language study into 6 weeks.
Language courses online: 50+
Review rating: ★★★★☆
Pricing: from $11.99/course. Visit website.
5. Fluent in 3 Months
Benny the Irish Polyglot says that you can “have confident conversations in weeks instead of years”. He joins a host of language learning options that attempt to appeal to short attention spans and the culture of instant gratification.
It appears that this online language course teaches a language learning method and not any specific language. He himself is fluent in seven languages, a big turnaround from being monolingual at age 21, before he discovered his system.
His team is a mix of language power players who speak 5 and are learning 5 more, and lightweights who still only speak one or two languages. The cool thing is that they are all learning, so this program can feel like you are learning along with them. One guy is learning Maori, the language of the New Zealand tribal group that occupied the archipelago islands for centuries before white people arrived.
This is definitely one of the most interesting and best language courses online if you think you are not able to learn a second one at all or have failed to do so in the past.
6. Rosetta Stone Language Courses
This household name has become synonymous with language learning. A Rosetta Stone subscription gets you unlimited access to live group coaching to supplement regular lessons with real conversation. The coaching is available in 12 of the 25 languages they teach, including Tagalog and Irish.
TruAccent is their patented speech software, designed to help perfect your pronunciation and accent. One cool feature is Seek & Speak, which allows you to use your phone in a “scavenger-hunt style challenge” to take advantage of objects around you for contextual practice.
Interestingly, Rosetta Stone’s language courses distinguish “Latin American” Spanish (which is rather broad) from the Spanish spoken in Spain. They also specify Brazilian Portuguese and British English.
One reviewer mentioned that on top of difficulties with software and headphones, the CD box-version did not indicate which dialect of Arabic was being taught. Other reviewers said that the absence of grammatical explanations early on can belie the claim that you can start speaking from the first lesson.
Nonetheless, it appears that while you may not walk out of the first lesson being able to hold a conversation, their natural immersion method is effective over time. It is certainly one of the best language courses online for beginners.
Pricing: from $8.99/month – All languages| $249 lifetime
7. Glossika GMS (Glossika Mass Sentences)
Founder, Mike Campbell, promotes pattern repetition over grammar study as the most important part of gaining fluency. This is the way we learn to speak naturally. Think of how babies and young children repeat everything they hear. The program apparently has the magical capability to predict when learners are about to forget some acquired knowledge.
Glossika’s method lays a foundation in the learner by having them repeat strategic syntactical patterns based on their proficiency level. The intention is to give you a day to “sleep on it” and return the following day to recall. This is said to help shift what you’re learning from your short term memory into your long term memory (a process called Memory Consolidation).
Glossika offers more than 60 languages and members are allowed access to them all. Reviews say the dialogue is high quality and will help you greatly as the software tracks progress. This is one of the best language courses online if you want something else than the above-mentioned programs.
User Reviews: ★★★★★
Pricing: $30 billed monthly | $24.99/month billed annually
This language course uses immersion with “authentic video” to help you learn one of six languages. One subscriber says it’s the next best thing to having a private tutor. This program also makes resources available for teachers to supplement their student’s classroom learning. They boast an impressive list of institutions that use it, including Harvard and Iowa State.
Some students mention the audio quality is inconsistent. Otherwise, Yabla is said to be entertaining and helpful for developing listening skills. There is no speaking practice in this course. That said, this could be one of the best language courses online that will likely be more effective for intermediate learners than for beginners.
Pricing: $€11.99/month | $€49.95/6 months | $€89.95/year
9. Transparent Language
A language course system built for organizations – government agencies, schools, etc. – Transparent Language is sort of a training tool for personnel or institutional learning. They say they offer “Fun programs with serious results”.
For those who use their tools, there is usually a time-sensitive need for a certain level of proficiency. This could be to achieve specific, measured results for assessment, non-leisure travel (or in the case of military, deployment) or closing new business.
This language course program is designed to meet those needs in over 100 languages. A look at the list is like an insider’s tour of the United Nations. For example, they cover dari, which is a Persian dialect spoken in Afghanistan. They teach 3 dialects of ojibwe, a language spoken by Native American people groups in the Midwestern US and parts of Canada.
Transparent covers some languages that other online language courses don’t have the guts to offer. Individuals can use it also, but reviews also mention that it works too much like the old school rote memorization method. Nonetheless, they may be the only resource for learning tuvan for your upcoming trip to the Republic of Tuva in South-Central Siberia.
User Review: ★★★★★
Pricing: $24.95 billed monthly. $149.95 billed yearly. Free trial available.
It’s a pay-per-lesson format that matches people up with real teachers to meet their budget and schedule need. iTalki appears to be a great connector through language education. Each teacher offers a trial price and an hourly rate.
Apparently, as an English speaker with little or no grasp of your language of choice, you will pay higher rates for teachers who are highly proficient in English. As you become more skilled in your new language, you can opt for less expensive tutors who speak little or no English, as you will need less translation.
iTalki though appears to be more focused on beginning learners and there are not many tutors who are prepared with educational materials for higher level students. iTalki, however, does have teachers who are qualified to prepare students who are taking language exams.
Number of teachers: 10,000+ | Languages: 50+
Pricing: Hourly rates starting from $5-10/hour. Average between $15-25/hour.
11. Lingoda Courses
Lingoda offers German, French, Spanish, English and “Business English” in a live language class format with group and private lessons running 24/7. They use “situational training” to build toward communication you can use in real life.
You work with a live tutor for one hour a day for 90 days (there is a 45-day option). This can be great for keeping you motivated. It also makes for a heavy workload, so you should be clear about how much of the next 2-3 months you want to commit. They offer a placement test to determine your CEFR level.
Their reputation is reliant on the quality of their teachers. They rotate them to expose students to “the range of accents present in the real world”. Their PDF materials are designed according to the CEFR. When you book any of Lingoda’s online language courses, you can see your syllabus in advance.
Some students say that larger beginner language courses (as many as 5 students) meant less attention from the tutor. There is also no strict testing, but Lingoda provides certificates when you complete a level. Who doesn’t love a certificate?
Pricing: $€59/month (1 class/week) | $€139/month (2-3 classes/week) | $€239/month (1 class everday)
12. Rype Courses
This is another tutor-student pair up, immersion model, with a few more languages than Lingoda. The lessons of these language courses are only 30 minutes long. Lessons take place over Skype.
Perusing through Rype may give off a “dating tool” vibe. It appears that this platform relies heavily on the visual appeal of the teachers to drive students’ choices. Some users say they don’t offer enough information about tutors such as credentials and teaching styles.
They offer 10 languages and an “all-you-can-learn” pay model that is great for some but may not be worth it for everybody. Some negative language course reviews touched on this and other problems with payments and refund requests.
13. Busuu Courses
Set and track weekly learning goals to plan your language courses and education in Busuu. They boast “machine learning technology” enhanced lessons for 12 languages. They also promise instant feedback from native speakers on written and spoken lessons.
Their tagline is “Speak a language in 10 minutes a day”. In 2019 they launched the world’s first AI-powered grammar language training tool. This they did in response to students’ requests for more grammar in the learning. The tool, called Grammar Review, is said to be capable of predicting your practice needs. It also allows you the freedom to explore the grammar topics that interest you.
Reviews said that the content for some language courses is not as great as that of others. Specifically, the quality of the Chinese course was criticized in multiple reviews.
Supported Languages: 10+
User Review: ★★★★☆
Pricing: Free plan | Premium from $€5.83/month | Premium Plus from $€6.66/month
14. Babbel Language Courses
Babbel is an immersion program from Germany that offers 13 languages with dialogue-based teaching. They say they “turn language learning into language using”. Two language course styles are available, depending on the language you choose.
One review said that it is excellent at Spanish and French, but rather poor with the others. Indeed, the course quality for some of the languages is widely different than that of others, but all cost the same. Some other complaints were poor audio quality and unnatural sounding speech.
Pricing: $€9.99 /month for 3-month plan | $€5.99/month for 12-month plan
15. Duolingo Language Courses
Touted as the resource with the best language courses online, Duolingo is used by over 300 million people. Their tag line is “Learn a language for free. Forever.” They say their way of language learning is fun and addictive because it uses rewards, time pressure and levels – like a polyglot RPG.
You can pay for Duolingo Plus if you don’t want ads, a strategy known as freemium. Apparently, Duolingo is best for beginners or those with a firm foundation in a language who just want to keep their knowledge up to date. It is said to be far too easy for advanced speakers. The online language courses and exercises are purported to not be challenging enough to improve their skills.
Number of languages: 35+
Review rating: ★★★★☆
Pricing: Free plan | Duolingo Plus from $6.99/month
16. Fluent U
This platform offers you an immersion experience using real videos with interactive captions. Hover over a word and get its translation immediately while the video continues to play. Their library includes music videos, trailers for movies and segments from news reports and speeches.
You can browse and search by skill level and preferred topics. You can even make flashcards from the videos. This service will work well for supplementing other language learning courses, but on its own, it doesn’t give you speaking or writing practice and it does not have structured teaching to carry you through a learning process.
User Review: ★★★☆☆
Pricing: $20/month billed annually | $30/month billed monthly
Produced by Innovative Language, the language courses have a separate URL for each language “pod” – ArabicPod101, PersianPod101, ItalianPod101. They launched with Japanese 10 years ago. There is now a decent number of languages available, and it is suitable for those who want to learn a language using the podcast-transcription method.
A reviewer of JapanesePod101 said there was too much information that was poorly organized and there was a wide range of mixed lessons for different levels. Other reviews point out there is little difference between the “Absolute Beginner” and the “Advanced” levels. Because of this, intermediate speakers may not have much to work with.
As with some other best language courses in this list, there was apparently no clear indication as to what dialects they teach in certain languages. The emphasis on functional speech and learning new terms in context are strong learning methods though.
Languages available: 25+
Pricing: Free | Premium from $66 | Premium Plus from $166
Choosing the Best Language Learning Courses – Criteria
Choosing from the dizzying array of the best language courses online can be narrowed down by a few factors. Your choice of language could rule some platforms out, as can your starting proficiency in that language. Your cost options vary widely starting from $0.
Methodology – Note that some details other than your price sensitivity may influence how much you will pay. You will also need to consider your preferred learning method – your choices include live one-on-one or group tutoring, videos, AI, applications, and CDs.
Goals & purpose – How much time you can set aside will influence the efficacy of some programs over others. Also, consider your usage and learning needs. Are you learning for business purposes? Do you need to read and write the language or just be able to speak? Will you need the motivation to keep going?
Try many – It’s a good thing that there are so many choices because there is a myriad of details to consider in selecting the best language courses online that are right for you.
Alternatives – You may also try vocabulary apps if you simply want to increase your active pool of words. Read our review here.
Best Language Courses 2021 – Review Verdict
Wrapping up our review of the best language courses online. Imagine if George Orwell’s 1984 world had really come to pass. In his book, he cast a vision of a future with only one language, condensed into very few, multipurpose words designed to not only control communication but control minds. How would we ever again be able to meet someone new over “une tasse du café”? That could be your future spouse!
It probably goes without saying, but we will say it anyway. There are no downsides to learning a new language. Even just the learning process can enhance your life in some ways. The best language courses all offer an effective way to get started or become fluent in a second language faster. When you have reached a level of conversational fluency, more doors can open for you.
What a time in world history to decide to join the multilingual population. You have so many choices for your language learning journey. With all that help, you are destined to make it to the nearest washroom or bus stop in time no matter where you are! By then, actually, you will easily do better than that. Promised.
Best Language Courses Online 2021
- Pimsleur by Simon and Schuster | ★★★★★
- Udemy Language Courses Online | ★★★★☆
- Rosetta Stone | ★★★★★
- SkillShare Language Courses | ★★★★☆
- Fluent in 3 Months | ★★★★★
- Rocket Languages | ★★★★☆
- Glossika GMS | ★★★★★
- Transparent Language | ★★★★★
- Lingoda Language Courses | ★★★★☆
- DuoLingo Courses | ★★★★☆
- Busuu Courses | ★★★★☆
- Babbel Courses | ★★★★☆
- Yabla | ★★★★☆
- iTalki | ★★★★☆
- Lingoda Courses | ★★★★☆
- Rype | ★★★☆☆
- Fluent U | ★★★☆☆
- LanguagePod101 | ★★★☆☆
How many languages do you speak? Have you tried to learn a difficult language? What are the best language courses online you would recommend?
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