Anyone that has ever tried to learn a new language knows that obtaining high quality language courses can usually be pretty expensive. Good language courses are hard to find, and the best ones, such as Rosetta Stone
, require a significant investment.
This is why free online language courses are such a rare commodity, and when you find one it's a good idea to bookmark the resource so that you can add it to your toolbox of resources for studying languages. One such resource is the FSI Language Courses website.
FSI Language Courses is a collection of high-quality language learning materials developed by the United States Government under the auspices of the Foreign Service Institute. This is an educational organization within the U.S. Government that serves to train U.S. government employees that are personnel of the U.S. foreign affairs community throughout various agencies. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, the training materials produced by the FSI are available for free at the FSI Language Courses website.
FSI Language Courses Maine Page
The moment you first visit the main page of the FSI Language Courses website, you'll immediately see how valuable this free resource really is. The site is set up much like a blog with periodic updates in the right frame about new texts and updates that were recently added into the FSI library of language study materials.
The collection of languages covered by this online resource is very impressive, with just over forty languages covered. Each of the language section has enough material for you to become proficient enough in the language so that you could hold at least an introductory conversation if you were visiting that country. This is ultimately the goal of the Foreign Services Institute in training federal personnel in these languages.
FSI Conversational Finnish
No matter which language you choose from the list, the odds are good that the collection will typically contain audio files with instructional sessions. These sessions will help you properly speak the new language if you listen carefully and repeat after the speaker. In most cases, the audio transcripts are a dialogue between people speaking in the language, with English translations along the way.
Entire Textbooks and Workbooks
In each section, either textbook or workbook, you'll not only find the entire collection of audio files, but you'll also find a clickable link to the text PDF version of the entire textbook as well. These entire collections represent hundreds of pages of materials as well as many hours of spoken examples of conversations in the language you're trying to learn. Everything you need to learn a new language can be found on these pages.
Hours of Audio Lessons
One thing that is astonishing about this website is the sheer volume of audio available throughout the site. When you click on any of the audio links, the MP3 file opens within the embedded reader in your browser. This means that whether you're at home or on the road and on a computer at a library or hotel, you can access these audio files at any time. If you have a mobile device that has access to the Internet, just visit the site and link to the audio files for a portable language lesson.
Additional Materials Available
In most cases, you'll find just the PDF version of the text lesson and all of the audio files. However, for some languages you'll find even more material, such as a guide for language instructors or a student guide.
German Student Manual
All of these materials are offered in a PDF format for easy printing, or viewing in your favorite PDF reader. For example, the image above is the German Student Manual showing a printed version of the audio dialogues.
This dialogue includes both the German version of the conversation and the translated English version. The lesson explains the situation where the dialogue is taking place, and then explains how the conversation could be used for many situations by just slightly substituting certain words.
German Instructor Guide
For the languages where instructor guides are included, the material is useful not only for students but for anyone that teaches that language. These manuals are not always detailed or voluminous, but they at least offer some examples that could be used in any classroom.
Full Course Books Available
At first glance, the FSI Language Courses website is a bit misleading. Most visitors have no idea the volume of resources that are available at this website, until you start navigating through the links and downloading a few of the free PDF files. For example, the PDF document listed above is an entire 347 page introductory instructional textbook on the Greek language.
Even some of the more difficult languages to learn have full textbooks available for you to start learning the language. For example, in the Japanese section, you'll find an impressive 526 page PDF version of a textbook covering an Introduction to the Japanese language.
In addition to the volumes of the audio and PDF materials available throughout this website, if you click on the "Forums" link at the bottom of the left navigation bar, you'll discover the FSI Forums. These forums are intended for the people that are actively using and learning from the coursework throughout the FSI language courses website. The forum itself isn't too active, but there is enough activity so that you could ask questions if you need to.
Learning a foreign language is never easy. To make it even more difficult, finding good quality learning material is even more difficult. It's nearly impossible to find free language instructional material. However, with the FSI Language Courses website, you have an extremely valuable resource at your fingertips to learn any new language that you might be interested in.
The following languages are included: Amharic, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Chinyanja, Czech, Finnish, French, Fula, German, Greek, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Kirundi, Kituba, Korean, Lao, Lingala, Luganda, Moré, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Shona, Sinhala, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Vietnamese and Yoruba.
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