Free Educational Resources for Language Lovers

by Barbara Jolie

As the Internet has broken down information barriers between geography and communication, our world has become increasingly global. Language still stands as a cultural barrier between people of the world, but the Internet offers a medley of free courses that allows everyday people to learn foreign languages and cross the great divide.

Beyond the Human Tongue

Writers are, by trade, linguistic professionals; but JRR Tolkein took his love for language to the next level in his Lord of the Rings series when he created languages for the Elvish races. The recent Hollywood hullaballoo surrounding Tolkein's work has incited renewed interest in the fictional languages, resulting in quite a few online sources for fans of Tolkein who would like to learn the Elvish tongues.

Fans of Tolkein can perhaps be rivaled only by Star Trek fans in terms of passion. Thus, it stands to reason that the Klingon language has been almost fully developed since its first appearance in 1979. The alien language should prove an interesting study for linguists, as developer Marc Okrand used a variety of typologically uncommon characters to support its inhuman origin. Learn Klingon here.

India's Ancient and Sacred Language

Though the language has flickered in and out of the "dead language," category, Sanskrit has been consistently lauded as a language of rich traditions, both in written and spoken form.

This ancient language carries with it a deep tradition of prestige. Used for sacred ceremonial purposes, pronunciation is a key area of study. For students, perfecting the language of Sanskrit was considered an art and a duty, thus dubbing the language with descriptions such as "the language of the gods" and "perfected speech." Language enthusiasts can study Sanskrit using one of two alphabets: Devanagari (the script used for Hindi, Marathi and other North Indian languages) or the International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST, a modified version of Latin alphabet).

The Classics

There are so many arguments for studying Greek and Latin, I probably don't need to share them with an audience of language lovers. If you missed out on learning Latin in school, but have studied any Romance languages, you might be surprised at how learning Latin will help you master similar languages with common roots. Studying both Latin and Greek are excellent ways to master the English language as 60 percent of the English language stems from one or the other.

Languages of the World

It seems that few others are as passionate about sharing information as linguists. My two favorite sites for free language lessons are Open Courseware Consortium and Open Culture. Here you will find lessons on many, many languages. Keep in mind, however, that some of the courses aren't available in the U.S.

About the writer

Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger for She writes about advantages of online classes and is particularly interested in writing and language education. If you have any questions email Barbara at


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