Ranking of Foreign Language OpenCourseWare Education Sources
There are many free foreign language courses online, but not all of them are equal in content and quality. Generally, OpenCourseWare doesn't award college credit. Here is a ranking of the best foreign language education sources based on school reputation and breadth of course offerings.
#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers more than 100 free foreign language courses through the university's OpenCourseWare (OCW) site (ocw.mit.edu). Both undergraduate and graduate language classes can be found in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, German and Spanish. For each course, you can access the syllabus, calendar, text information and assignments. Most courses consist mainly of PDF files, but some are supplemented with audio, video and slide presentations.
#2 University of Cambridge
The Language Centre at University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom offers several language courses via its OCW site (www.langcen.cam.ac.uk). Courses in German, Chinese, Italian, Russian and French can be downloaded for use. To be able to fully access the courses, you'll need an updated web browser and Adobe Flash Player.
#3 FSI Languages
FSI Language is a community site that distributes language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute, a U.S. Government training institution. The site includes language program documentation and audio courses in 31 foreign languages, including Arabic, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Swahili, Thai and many others (fsi-language-courses.org).
#4 Open University
The United Kingdom's Open University offers many modern language courses to the general public through its OpenLearn site (www.open.edu). Course materials include text and multimedia elements. Languages offered include German, Gaelic, Chinese, Spanish, Welsh, Italian and French, and there are additional courses that focus on culture and history.
#5 Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University offers free online language courses through its Open Learning Initiative (www.cmu.edu). Current offerings include courses in American English speech, Arabic for global exchange and elementary French. An elementary Spanish course is in the works. These courses are free, but you'll need to sign in to access the learning materials.
#6 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
The BBC offers extensive foreign language resources on its website (www.bbc.co.uk). You'll find courses and tutorials in French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Welsh, Scottish, Gaelic, English and many others. Text, audio guides, video guides, quizzes and games, like crossword puzzles, are helpful resources for learners of all ages.
#7 eLanguage School
The eLanguage School offers a large repository of foreign language learning materials on its website (www.elanguageschool.net). Users can choose from ten different languages, including Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Dutch and Spanish. Vocabulary lists, videos, audio files and links to other language resources supplement the text-based lessons and tutorials.
#8 Utah State University
Utah State University publishes two Chinese language courses as part of its OCW program (ocw.usu.edu). First-year Chinese I and Chinese II courses include PDFs, audio files, video files and supplementary textbooks.