The best online language courses to do right now

"Никогда нельзя знать заранее, как впоследствии обернутся обстоятельства." Артур Конан Дойл ©
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While most people are inside with nothing to do for at least the next couple of weeks, many are attempting to learn something new. Some are trying their hand at new crafts such as painting, acting or photography. Others are cooking up a storm in the kitchen, bringing international dishes and restaurant-style food to the table with the help of our new lockdown cooking series brought to you by world-famous chefs. And some are just dreaming of the outside world, gorging on as much travel inspiration as possible through international songs, travel books, foreign language films or travel documentaries, to prepare for the great escape.

But perhaps the most valuable skill you could devote your time to at the moment is one that will help you once you arrive at that dreamed-of destination. Now is the time to brush up on your GCSE French, learn how to say more than just ‘I want to go to the library’ in German, or finally start learning Mandarin for the big trip around China you’ve had planned for years.

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    LEARN SPANISH

    Spanish has the second largest number of native speakers in the world – almost 500 million people. Whether you’re planning a quick city hop to Madrid, a backpacking tour around South America or a laid-back trip to Costa Rica, this is the language you need to know. Coursera offers a beginner’s vocabulary course that covers all the basics. You’ll learn how to greet and chat to people, discuss cultural experiences and argue over sports while honing your pronunciation. No prior experience is required, and Coursera suggests a commitment of six hours a week for four months – although many people might be able to speed that up during the current situation.

    Learn Spanish online

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    LEARN FRENCH

    Most school children in the UK study at least a basic level of French, but unfortunately the phrases ‘où sont les toilettes?’ and ‘je ne comprends pas’ can only get us so far. Udemy has a course of 80 video lessons for beginners as well as a more intensive introductory course. Both will help you to pull out the random phrases you’ve stored at the back of your mind and put them to good use. Expand your vocabulary, learn how to use grammar correctly, master the art of conversation and soon you’ll be strolling through the streets of Paris with the je ne sais quoi you’ve been searching for. For those who already have a little understanding of the language, Udemy also has courses to help broaden knowledge and work on specific skills, such as one to work on the subjective mood, a pronunciation course and an intermediate course.

    Learn French online

    Pictured: Street, and table setting at Restaurant 1802, Besançon

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    LEARN KOREAN

    Why not challenge yourself by learning something brand new? South Korea is a destination that’s becoming more and more popular, due to its incredible landscapes and buzzing cities. Step out of your Euro-centric comfort zone and swot up on some Korean before your trip. Seoul’s Yonsei University is offering courses through Coursera, to help you build an elementary understanding of the language. Learn how to read and write the Korean alphabet, communicate with basic expressions and embrace grammar. Once you’ve completed this course and are fully familiar with Hangeul (the Korean writing system), move up a level to discover more about interactions and communication. If this all seems a bit much, you could always just head over to weverse.io to learn the lingo from K-pop group BTS for a bit of fun.

    Learn Korean online

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    LEARN CHINESE

    While Spanish has the second largest number of native speakers, Mandarin has the largest, at almost one billion. If you’re planning a trip to China, a basic knowledge of its most popular language will be infinitely helpful in getting around and immersing yourself in the culture, particularly in the more remote regions beyond the international cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Coursera has the most comprehensive courses – start with the Chinese characters course to learn the shape, meaning and pronunciation of each (about 30 hours is recommended), and follow with part two, the intermediate characters course. Peking University offers a beginners’ language course, also through Coursera, which involves essential phonetics and daily expressions and takes around 11 hours to complete, and part two to expand your knowledge.

    Learn Mandarin online

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    LEARN ITALIAN

    Dreaming of an Italian escape? Learn the language while you plan your trip to the Amalfi Coast, Sardinia or Puglia. Sometimes the best way to pick up a new language is by practising it little and often. Skillshare offers bite-sized classes for beginners covering all the basics in a series of three-minute lessons across five consecutive courses – course one totals four and a half hours, and by course five the dip-in snippets add up to a little more than six hours. If you’d like to double up on lessons, pair these classes with Skillshare’s quick verb guide to brush up on your grammar and speed ahead of your classmates.

    Learn Italian online

    Pictured: View of the swimming deck at the Parco dei Principi hotel in Sorrento.

  • The best online language courses to do right now

    KEEP IT UP WITH THE BEST LANGUAGE APPS

    There are plenty of apps out there that will help you learn your chosen language. Try Duolingo for free daily exercises, or sign up for Duolingo Plus to take your education further. Similarly, Babbel is helpful for consolidating linguistic skills – log in on a daily basis to expand your vocabulary and work on your conversational ability.

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