Interesting in studying a new language on your own time? All of the study material used by the US Foreign Service is available for free, online, on the fsi-language-courses.org web site. The site is the work of private volunteers and is not affiliated with the US government, but the lessons, which are in the public domain, are the same as the ones used by the Foreign Service Institute.
There are 41 different languages available-everything from Amharic to Yoruba. Materials include study texts, MP3s and exams to help you gauge your progress. The amount of material for each language varies, though, and languages that are less commonly spoken have less material.
Free, self-guided foreign language study courses are always a good thing. Sure, you won’t learn as fast as you would if you immersed yourself in the language or temporarily relocated somewhere where it was spoken, but many people lack the time or the finances to go that route.
Hat tip to Lifehacker, who unfortunately sent more traffic over than the website’s servers could bear. On April 23, the following message was posted-please keep it mind if you go to the site to download study materials any time in the near future:
Traffic from lifehacker overloaded the server earlier today. As a result the admins from the isp have pulled the plug on downloading any course materials. We’re currently working to restore access. Please be patient. When the courses do become available again, please refrain from immediately downloading whole courses at a time. Just download the first few files as samples then return later for more. Hopefully, that will allow everyone to be able to sample the language that they’re interested in.