The best free and easy resources for learning or improving a foreign language

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In the last time more people asked me for advice on free ways for learning a foreign language. I speak at a good level two foreign languages - English and Spanish. I learnt both of them in school and improved them by travelling and by actually using them when speaking with other people. I can also greet and use basic words in several other languages. I meet many people from other countries and while I spend time with them I love learning something in their language; I find it fascinating.

But what if you are not in school anymore and you want to learn another language (more than just greetings and silly words that friends can teach you). I am now learning Italian. Of course, living with an Italian girl helps a lot with the process, but when I am not practicing with her I am learning the language online. Here are some useful ways on how to learn, practice and improve a foreign language: 

1. Duolingo
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Duolingo is one of the best platforms (available on the website and as an app for the phone) which helps you learn a foreign language in a simple, fun and efficient way. And free of charge. It is definitely may favourite. The app uses gamification, which means that you earn points for correct answers, race against the clock and level up or even compete with your friends. Duolingo is also sending you reminders via email to motivate you practice every day.

According to an independent study, an average of 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. Pretty great, right?

Now let's talk about practicing and improving. The best way in which a foreign language sticks with you is by using it, especially with native speakers. So, here's how you can do it:

2. Easy Languages
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Now this is a really cool initiative that helps you learn languages from the streets. What do I mean "from the streets"? Basically, Easy Languages is posting videos in which native speakers are interviewing people on the streets of different places in the world. All the videos contain subtitles in both the original language as well as in English, which is really helpful for those who are learning.

The videos are providing and authentic experience and they are really interesting and fun to watch. It is like being there on the streets listening to local people speaking. You really get into the atmosphere and you feel like you are getting to know the people - how they are like, how they are spending the day, why they like living in a particular country or city etc.

3. Learning via Skype
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I know we mostly use Skype for keeping in touch with our friends and family from abroad. But when it comes to practicing a foreign language, Skype can be a very useful tool, as you can speak with other people that are fluent in the language of your interest.

Melting Point is a Facebook group where you can find a person with whom to practice a foreign language via Skype. There are also Skype Language Exchange Facebook group and the Language Exchange website for the same purpose.

4. Language Exchange Meetings

I came across this concept for the first time in PolandA Language Exchange meeting is a nice opportunity to interact with people from different countries, have interesting conversations and build friendships. Basically, at these meetings you find people from different countries, as well as local people, and you speak with them in a common language that you both/all know. Try finding group meetings in your city on Language Exchange Meetups. Or you can practice a language by meeting up with a native speaker living in your area. Find them on Conversation Exchange or My Language Exchange.

5. HelloTalk
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HelloTalk is a language exchange learning app. The app lets you find a conversation partner and chat, send voice messages or even call him/her for free. What is interesting about it is that while you are texting you have the options to listen to the pronunciation of the messages that you receive, as well as translating them in a language of your choice and many more other cool features. Read more about HelloTalk in this extensive review of the app.

6. Read
Read as much as you can in the language that you are learning: books, newspapers, magazines, articles, you name it. Use a dictionary while you are reading to translate the words that you don't understand, write them down in a notebook and read them again from time to time. What will also be useful is to choose each day 2-3 new words from the list and use them the entire day. This will help in remembering them.

7. Watch movies, TV Shows, News etc.
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This is a relaxing way to practice a foreign language. It will help you improve the accent, pronunciation and learn new words and local phrases as well. Using subtitles in your language is recommended.

To sum up, there are many ways in which you can learn, practice and improve a foreign language. The best part is that most of them involve meeting new people, making friends or helping someone else to improve a language that you are fluent in. Just pick one and start practicing!

Do you know other free tools for learning a foreign language? I would love to hear about them!