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There are many freely available websites which you can use to enhance your learning of a new language. These include websites which offer language learning courses or websites about the culture and history of a particular country. Below is a selection of websites which may be useful. It would be good if more could be added, so if you know of a particularly useful website which has helped you learn a language or find out more about the culture of a country, please let your subject librarian know.
Language learning courses
The BBC's language learning site includes good coverage of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and Chinese, and 33 other languages to a lesser extent. Although the website is archived and no longer being updated, it still contains much useful material.
Foreign Services Institute
The US Foreign Services Institute, which provides language learning services to US diplomats, also offers their archived language learning materials for free personal use. The website is basic and no longer maintained, but the materials were designed by professional linguists.
Free website offering a range of language learning courses to complete in your own time for as little as 5 minutes a day.
General language learning websites
Language Learning websites by Language
The Arab British Centre
The Arab British Centre works to improve the British public’s understanding of the Arab world through cultural and artistic events, Arabic calligraphy and Arabic language classes.
Information on learning resources and support learning BSL.
Culturethèque is an online platform offering French cultural content such as e-books, films and audio books. Published by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, the mission statement of this cultural cooperation tool is to present the best of French cultural events happening today in order to promote the presence of the French language online. Register with the site to access all its content for free.
Institut National de l'Audiovisuel
100,000 radio and television programmes available to download.
The Goethe-Institut is a cultural institute of the German government, which seeks to promote knowledge of the German language abroad. It offers language courses and a range of cultural events and information services.
An online gateway providing access to digital resources on all aspects of Italian culture and literature, which is sponsored by the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali.
Italian Cultural Institute in London
"The official Italian government agency for the promotion of cultural exchanges between Great Britain and Italy". Organises language courses and various cultural events.
The Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation promotes international cultural exchange between Japan and the rest of the world, through arts and culture, Japanese language education and Japanese studies
The Hellenic Centre
Promotes an awareness of Hellenic culture in the UK by offering lectures, exhibitions, concerts, social events and Greek language courses.
London Confucius Institute
The London Confucius Institute aims to promote Chinese language, learning and teaching, and the understanding of the Chinese culture in the UK
Pushkin House is the UK's oldest independent Russian cultural centre and aims to promote Russian culture in all its forms.
Centro Virtual Cervantes
A website created and maintained by the Cervantes Institute to promote the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures.
Tips on evaluating websites
Before believing the information given on a web site, or quoting it in your essay or project, think about the following:
- Who is responsible for the page/site?
- Is it a reliable organisation (eg a well known university) or a subject expert?
- Can you trust them?
Accuracy and reliability
- Is the information correct?
- Is the grammar and spelling correct?
- Is it complete, or are they just giving one point of view?
- Do they have their own agenda eg political organisations?
- Is the information fact or opinion?
- Can you tell how up-to-date it is?
- Is it regularly updated?
- You don't want to quote out-of-date information
Audience / relevance
- Is the information of the right level to be quoted in your project? If it is aimed at the general public or school children it might not be!
- Is the site well structured and easy to navigate?
- Are the links from the page up-to-date and valid?
- If it is well designed and maintained then you can feel more confident about the information it provides