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Online courses and services to help you learn a language

Become a global citizen without leaving your living room.

Wishing you had concentrated a little harder in your high school French or Italian lessons? Maybe you would like to master Japanese or learn to speak Indonesian in order to help with your career.

If you want to learn a new language or brush up on one you already know, an online program can be a great way to boost your learning.

Any or all of these options will have you saying “Je comprends” in no time (that’s French for ‘I understand’).  


Duolingo allows you to learn a language for free. The app is available for iPhone, Android, Microsoft and online.

It works by encouraging you through gamification, using “bite-sized” lessons and rewarding you with points for correct answers.

Duolingo encourages you to read, listen and speak the language you are keen to get the hang of and instantly provides feedback on where you are going wrong.

Languages you can learn include German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Polish and Vietnamese.


The Babel Fish, according to book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is a small fish that lives in your ear and allows you to instantly understand any language. It is certainly handy for intergalactic travellers!

Here on Earth, we have to rely on Babbel and while it doesn’t provide instant comprehension, it’s still pretty handy.

Voice recognition technology will encourage you to perfect your accent and regular review sessions will help you remember what you have learned.

Languages include French, Spanish, Turkish, Indonesian, Norwegian and Danish. Babbel is available on iOS or Android and has a subscription fee of $12.95 per month.


Add Japanese, Chinese, Italian and more to your vocabulary with this app for iOS and Android, which comes recommended by PC Magazine as one of the best language learning software options.

Hello-Hello teaches you a new language through reading, listening and speaking exercises.

It shares flashcards and classroom style lesson and also boosts your knowledge by tapping into a global user base.

You can connect with international mentors, upload voice recordings and request their feedback, plus you can offer feedback to others.

With a freemium model (extra content costs $9.99 per month), Hello-Hello allows students to pick up Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian and Indonesian.


The Memrise website declares that it is “Learning Made Joyful”.

The platform is made up of mnemonics, which in this case are images that encourage you to better remember a word or phrase.

Memrise’s ‘mem cards’ are user-generated flash cards that use cute and imaginative graphics to help you build your vocabulary.

For example, you may picture a girl named ‘Gemma Pell’ to remember how to introduce yourself in France (where you would say “Je m’appelle…”) You can join the fun once you are confident enough and create your own mem cards.

The language list is 200 strong on Memrise, so you have plenty to choose from.

Living Language 

Living Language is one of the world’s biggest online language course providers.

Offering 20 languages, you can choose from a range of course lengths and costs. Living Language claims to be both easy to use and fun, with lessons that are designed for adult learners.

The associated iOS apps offer flashcards along with interactive games. There are tutors and forums available for when you get stuck.

Living Language also has ‘Passport’ lessons for travellers who are planning to go overseas and need the basics.

And just for fun, if you are a Game of Thrones fan you can learn to say “Athchomar Chomakaan” (g’day) by doing a course that lets you fully master the Dothraki tongue.


According to Busuu, you can learn a language in just ten minutes a day, with 22.5 hours of practice equalling the study you would encounter during a college semester.

Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Russian all feature within this service, which provides free lessons up to a point.

The online community acts as your tutor by correcting your submissions on a volunteer basis. On offer with a premium membership (around $9 per month) are quizzes, grammar exercises and mobile applications.

Tools like these are bringing the world closer together. Whether you need them for work or are about to take a trip abroad, they certainly make language lessons more accessible than ever.

Access to online education resources is taking Australia by storm; just make sure you use a safe password when you sign up to any online service.

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