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www.bbc.co.uk/languages - Learn a Foreign Language

BBC languages is a web portal for anyone interested in learning or improving upon a new language. The portal covers about 36 languages and includes comprehensive areas that offer courses, foreign language television, learning games, references like photographs and crosswords, and even an entire area devoted to foreign language teachers and tutors.

For anyone looking to either learn a new language on their own, or supplement another class or course, the BBC language portal is the perfect online resource.

The main page of BBC Languages is organized into different panels that group the resources by purpose. For example the upper left panel offers links to audio and video courses. Under that you'll find the link to the "Teachers and tutors" area. And then, on the lower right of the main page you'll find the entrance to foreign language TV.

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Main Page of BBC Languages

If you click on any of the language links for the courses section, you'll be whisked away to another portal page that specifically targets a particular language. For example, in the Italian area, you'll find resources to practice talking Italian, an area for tutors, a "cool Italian" area that covers slang, and a "quick fix" area that features all kinds of interesting information about Italy and Italian culture.

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The Language Course Area

One of the most valuable areas for beginners is the language "steps" sections that walk you through learning each language in a certain number of stages. This is a great self-teaching resource that you can use to actually teach yourself how to speak a foreign language without the need to sit through a class or take tests. You learn at your own pace and then test yourself to make sure that you're making real progress.

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Learning a Language for Beginners

You'll also find very unique games and activities throughout the site that help you to practice the language principles that you're learning. For example, most language sections have crossword puzzles, like the French section that features French crossword puzzles with various themed words.

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Language Crossword Puzzles

A fun area of the site to explore is the TV section, which provides television and video resources so that you can watch TV in the language you're trying to learn. Most language teachers will agree that one of the best ways to learn a new language is to immerse yourself into the cultural experience of that language. One of the best ways to do that is to watch the television programs that originate in that country.

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Watch Foreign Language TV and Videos

While many of the resources are linked to other sites, you'll also find a small library of videos that provide instruction and lessons about how to say and pronounce certain statements or groups of statements in the language of your choice, such as the video shown below that teaches you how to tell people where you are from in French.

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Instructional Language Videos

On the main page, if you click on the link to the "Teachers' homepage," you'll discover an amazing, comprehensive area that features a very wide range of tools, references and resources to help language teachers and tutors teach students how to speak a foreign language.

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Instructional Language Videos

The tutor and teach area provides all kinds of resources for any language teacher, including course materials, topic ideas, grammar help and even a newsletter. The "factfiles" area offers printable PDF sheets covering important conversational topics such as shopping for food, ordering a meal, getting directions and other topics important and critical to world travelers that want to communicate in a foreign tongue.

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Language Courses

The Courses section provides some very valuable and thorough coursework and lessons that can either provide a teacher with the central course material for a class, or at least it can serve as a useful supplemental resource to direct students if they need additional practice. The 12 step learning programs provided for each language is an especially useful series that teaches students the basics about things like taking a taxi, buying tickets, understanding instructions, and many other topics and themes.

learn a foreign language
Internet Inspiration

One of the most useful areas of the entire BBC Languages website is the Internet website in the Tutors section. In the "Internet inspiration" area, you will find a library of tools including photograph collections, transcripts, quizzes, topical materials and online dictionaries - collected from all across the Internet and presented in one place for easy access while you're studying to learn a new language.

Learning a new language isn't something that you're going to accomplish overnight. It is a skill that a person can acquire through hours of study, hard work and practice. The BBC Languages website may not be quite as comprehensive as most courses that you'll find at a college, but for a free resource, it is one of the most effective and useful websites where you can actually learn a language just by spending time there every day and working at it.

Written June 17, 2010 by Ryan Dube


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