Learn a New Language Online for Free Using Duolingo
Of all the free language learning websites I've looked at, Duolingo is the easiest one to use, making it a lot of fun learning a new language. It's really even more than just "fun", it's downright addictive.
The website is friendly and interactive to make it both simple and fun to learn a new language. In addition to text, Duolingo utilizes your microphone and speakers to teach you how to speak and understand other languages when they're spoken.
Languages You Can Learn at Duolingo
Visit the Courses page at Duolingo to see which languages you can learn based on which language you speak. For example, German speakers can only learn English, French, and Spanish, whereas English speakers can learn all the languages listed below (excluding English):
Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, German, High Valyrian, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japenese, Klingon, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh
How Duolingo Works
There are dozens of sets of lessons at Duolingo called Skills. Some of them include the following: Basics, Phrases, Food, Present, Adjectives, Plurals, Family, Questions, Numbers, Household, Colors, Comparison, Qualifiers, Measure, Clothing, Animals, Prepositions, Dates & Time, Nature, and Medical.
The lessons include images, text, and audio, and sometimes has you speak into a microphone (if you have one) to test your speaking and pronunciation skills.
You can take each lesson one after the other to gradually move into more difficult concepts, or you can choose to test out where you take one quiz that combines a little of each lesson into one big test. A couple test out options are available for a handful of skills. If you pass a test out, you can pass over all of those lessons and start somewhere a bit more advanced.
Because Duolingo has a test out option, it can be beneficial for both someone who needs to brush up on their language skills as well as someone who's brand new to the language.
There's also a section at Duolingo called Stories that's perfect for intermediate and advanced language learners. You can red mini-stories in the language you're learning and then take a quiz over the story to find out how much you understood. Right now Duolingo Stories is only available in Spanish and Portuguese but more language should be added soon.
Duolingo's Discussions is a message board where you can chat about Duolingo in general or visit a language section and discuss the lessons as well as practice your language skills with other Duolingo members.
A user account isn't required to use Duolingo, but it's recommended if you want to keep track of your progress.
Duolingo also has free mobile apps for learning a new language so you can take the lessons with you wherever you go.
My Thoughts on Duolingo
Duolingo's website and apps are both super user-friendly. The simple design ensures you aren't confused when using them, which is great because learning a language can be difficult in and of itself.
I like the keyboard shortcuts because they let you quickly submit your answers, play audio, move through lists, choose multiple choice answers, and more.
I think Duolingo is one of the better places for learning a new language. The mixture of audio, images, and text, coupled with your own voice input makes you put more focus into the learning process, which is more than you can say for traditional language learning resources like textbooks.