One of the biggest fears that newbie travelers, expats or digital nomads have is that they won’t be able to communicate in a country where they don’t speak the local language. But learning a new language is so much hard work, isn’t it? After all, you have to find a good school and study vocabulary and grammar and it takes months and years to be able to understand it. Well, no! Luckily, there are some brilliant online language courses out there, which make it super easy to learn a foreign language from literally anywhere in the world and with only little effort.
The following websites and apps are great for any type of budget and cover the most common languages. They are based on smart scientific systems that allow you to learn a new language the easiest way possible.
Pimsleur is no doubt one of the top players in terms of audio language courses and many (aspiring) digital nomads use this company. This super popular program has thought more than 25 million (!) customers worldwide how to speak a new language at minimum effort.
How does it work? All you need to do is listen to the audio files and speak along. One lesson takes 30 minutes and since it is available in a variety of formats, such as CD or MP3, you can listen to it wherever you are.
On your commute to work, while walking your dog, during your lunch break, while cooking dinner, in the evening before you go to bed – whenever you have a few minutes you can practice your new language. So easy!
The method that Pimsleur is using is scientifically proven and a true revolution in the language learning market. You learn a new language the same way a child learns its native tongue; by simply interacting and learning intuitively.
If you are looking into a pure audio course, this is the one to go for. Seriously.
What can you expect? Pimsleur is great for complete beginners to intermediate speakers. You can learn up to 5 levels of a new language, each level consisting of 30 lessons.
Depending on what language you chose, you can either buy 5 lessons at a time, 30 lessons (=1 level) or go for the complete course (=up to 5 levels). Prices start from 21.95 USD up to 575 USD.
Attention: Do you want to save up to 25% on Pimsleur and get FREE shipping? Click here and use the code SAVENOW at checkout.
2. Rocket Languages
Rocket Languages is an award-winning language provider and their courses are based on both science and practical success strategies. This concept is also used by people who speak 5 or more languages fluently, so it is proven to achieve success.
Similar to Pimsleur you get audio-style lessons. Each level of each course contains more than 60 hours of audio files. You can listen to them while you are on your way to work while exercising or relaxing on your couch, so literally anywhere and anytime.
In addition to this, Rocket Languages offers a voice recognition tool, that records your voice and helps you improve your pronunciation. You also get more than 60 hours of language & culture lessons that let you discover the mechanics of the language.
As if that’s not enough, you also get 25 articles about advanced learning techniques which are full of tips and tricks on how you can cut the amount of time you need to study. Combined with motivational tools, such as a points and badges system, you will surely be able to speak your new language in no time.
The normal price for 1 level is 149.95 USD. BUT they are currently on sale. So if you hurry up you can save 50 USD and get the Rocket Language course for only 99.95 USD.3 Levels would normally cost you 449.85 USD. With the current discount, you will save a whopping 189.95 USD!
Verbling has a completely different approach to teach you a new language: Real-life teachers!
Verbling is based on the idea that speaking with a professional teacher is the most effective way to learn a new language.
On the language learning platform, you can pick the language you want to learn and get a long list of native-speaking teachers. You can check out their profiles, see their education and experience, the times they are available and hourly rates.
All teachers offer a free first lesson where you can get to know each other and see if you like your potential new teacher. If you do, you can book single lessons or entire packages and arrange dates and times at your convenience.
You don’t need to install any other language tools or apps because your lessons will take place on the built-in Verbling video calls.
For the unlikely case that’s still not enough interaction, you can also join community discussions or ask questions on their platform.
Hourly rates range between 4 and 60 USD. You can also buy specific courses, such as Business, Culture, Writing, or Grammar courses, in case you want to focus on a particular area.
Verbling is a great language course for everyone who learns best when speaking with others and likes to have a real-life conversation.
iTalki is another language course that is based on online 1-on-1 teaching, very similar to Verbling’s concept.
On iTalki you pick your language and get hundreds of teachers and tutors to choose from. You can set a filter on hourly rates, what other languages the teacher speaks, if he or she is a native or advanced speaker or if they offer any special skills, like test preparation, business language or are experienced in teaching languages to kids.
Check out the teachers’ general availability, their experience, and reviews that former students gave them.
Hourly rates range from 4 to 80 USD and you can book a 30-minute trial lesson to find out if you have picked the right teacher. Again, you can book single lessons or entire packages. Conversations take place on Skype or whatever video call software you two agree on.
The platform also offers a community where you can exchange, ask questions and find a language exchange partner.
iTalki is a great alternative to Verbling if you are looking for a 1-on-1 teaching session.
Because live teaching sessions are so popular when it comes to learning a foreign language, I want to present you with a third alternative: coLanguage.
The same idea: You decide on your language and then get to pick the teacher you want to work with. Check their profiles, availability, reviews, and prices, and schedule a trial class. Hourly prices usually range between 10 and 50 EUR.
In addition to the private 1-on-1 sessions on Skype, you will also get a wide range of learning material, such as YouTube videos, interactive exercises, audio files, pdfs and other printable documents.
coLanguage is another great alternative to Verbling and iTalki. In the end, it probably comes down to personal preference and where you find the best teacher for your needs.
Babbel is an absolute classic and one of the most popular language-learning course apps out there.
You get 10-15 minute courses that you can do from anywhere at any time, from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. There is also no strict course content. You can pick whatever vocabulary is relevant to your life and what interests you the most – anything from business to travel.
You will get audio lessons, voiced by native speakers, along with the according written texts. There is also a speech recognition technology that helps you to improve your pronunciation. The review manager allows you to regularly review your sessions and retain the learned information.
This language learning app doesn’t only teach you vocabulary but also gives you easy-to-understand grammar tips and helpful lessons in your native language for a better understanding.
The best thing: Babbel is one of the cheapest courses out there which makes it an affordable option for everyone who’s on a tight budget. You pay monthly, starting from 9.95 EUR for 1 month to 4.95 EUR per month if you book 12 months in advance. Your first full lesson is free.
Babbel is a great and fun way for everyone who likes to learn a new language on the go and doesn’t want to commit to any scheduled times or content.
Ever wanted to do a course at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, or Princeton? Well, take it as a sign, this is your chance!
Coursera provides access to the world’s best education from top organizations and universities around the world. They offer a wide range of different courses in any field you can possibly imagine. That could be Financial Reporting, Programming, Data Science, Buddhism, or, as you might have guessed, foreign languages.
That means you can, for example, do the Chinese for Beginners course at Peking University, or a Basic Spanish course at UC Davis. All online, of course. You don’t have to go anywhere to learn your new language but get videos, readings, and quizzes to practice.
Costs and commitments vary a lot between the courses, depending on what university or organization you chose. The mentioned Spanish course, for instance, would take 4 weeks of study, with 3-4 hours each week. If you want to, you can also get a certificate that proves your participation at the end.
In case you cannot afford any course, Coursera offers a financial aid program that you can apply to.
Definitely a fantastic way to participate in a professional language course with a high-class university or organization and connect with thousands of other learners to discuss course material and get help.
Click here and find your perfect language course on Coursera today!
Best Online Language Courses for Everyone
As you can see, there are plenty of options out there. Depending on your budget, time and personal preference you can pick from a wide range of different learning concepts. Maybe you learn better when listening to audio files or you prefer having a private teacher? Whatever method you choose, these language courses surely won’t disappoint you.
Even if you are only in a country for a few weeks or months as a traveler, expat or digital nomad, it’s always nice to know a few words and to show the locals that you try your best. With most of these courses, you will also learn a lot about the culture and local sentiment. Plus, I have never heard anyone saying that they regret learning a new language ;)
In case you need some more tips on how to prepare your digital nomad lifestyle, check out the linked post!
Go for it and give it a try! These online language courses are well worth their money and a great choice when you want to learn a new language fast and efficiently.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, David! I’m in love with the learning concept of Pimsleur, too! And you’re absolutely right. Learning a few words of the local language can make such a difference! :)
I’ve used Pimsleur to learn some basic Thai. It’s definitely the best language learning program on the market.
I will say that learning some of the local language makes staying safe much easier and adds to the experience of living in a new country.