If you are anything like me, you like to get value for money when you buy something. Whether it is for groceries, electronics or flights abroad, I tend to shop around and select the best deal. For most of us, this is just a reality of living within financial limits. Language learning is no different. Today I am going to share some of my best tips on how to save money learning a new language.
I tend to repeat myself on this site but it’s for a reason. This point alone could save you thousands of dollars! You do NOT need to go to school to learn languages, period.
You can discover Chinese, Korean or Japanese on your own terms, with your own books and in your own time. It’s a wonderful experience.
Studying on your own transforms your learning experience from a passive one into an active endeavor – it’s more effective, cheaper and, most importantly, more enjoyable. The benefits extend far beyond learning a language. You will become more confident and believe in your abilities.
However, many prospective students are still stuck in the mindset that they need to pay to go to an expensive language school. As far as I’m concerned, if this blog convinces one person to study on their own then it will all have been worth it.
2. Buy used books
Hypochondria aside, there is no reason to avoid second-hand books or courses. It’s the same information available for less.
When there’s a book I want, I usually check out Amazon to see if there are any used versions available for cheaper.
There are occasionally some real bargains. Last time I checked, Pimsleur Chinese was available for under $100 which is much cheaper than buying it new. Just make sure that the book listed is the latest edition and verify the seller’s past ratings.
3. FSI courses
FSI Language Courses is an incredible website with free US-government courses available for download in their entirety. The quality can be variable and a little old-fashioned but hey, it’s free!
I’ll leave you with the links. You can do the rest.
4. Read the Bible
I’m the last person to push religion onto anyone, but the Bible is a useful resource for your language learning. This site has FREE audio recordings of the scriptures to download. Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Swahili, Zulgo – You name it, they’ve got it!
Find the accompanying text online and you are gold. This source alone provides you with hours and hours of learning material for free! The fact that the content will be somewhat familiar to most makes it a lot easier to comprehend and therefore helps you to pick up new vocabulary and grammatical patterns. Again, this is not an endorsement of the Bible so take it or leave it.
5. Make friends with native speakers
While using a tutor is the ideal way to improve your language skills, budget is an issue for most of us. One alternative is to seek out native speakers in your area.
Is there a Chinese community nearby? Engage them and make some friends.
Is the chef at your favorite sushi place from Japan? Try some Japanese on him. He may speak English back to you. That’s fine too. Go with it and then switch back later. A little politeness goes a long way in these situations! Being keen is a charming trait, acting like a linguistic steamroller isn’t.
6. Do a language exchange
Language exchanges can be a good way of practicing your target language but require discipline and organization. If there are foreign students living in your city then you may want to advertise at a local university.
Alternatively, there are sites where you can find online language exchange partners. These internet friends tend to be much flakier though – be careful to avoid wasting time on the web. All things equal, an offline exchange partner is vastly superior to an online one.
The most common problem encountered with language exchanges is that the stronger partner (usually the person learning English) dominates the conversation. Avoid this situation by deciding on some ground rules in advance, such as splitting the time 50:50 between each language so you can both practice.
All this said, I prefer to find native speakers in a more natural way. It’s simply more fun to make new friends and have the language practice as an added side bonus.
Well that’s all for today folks! Do you have any money-saving tips to add to the above? As always, let us know in the comments below!
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Rohan has spent years studying Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and currently lives in Japan. He created the perapera pop-up dictionary plugins to help other learners of Chinese and Japanese.