Learning a new language can enrich your life and deepen your appreciation of another culture. It can also be an excellent professional investment, equipping you with a new skill and enabling you to work internationally. However, the costs of buying textbooks and attending language courses can add up quickly, especially if you are just pursuing a hobby.
Compare the Cost of 20 Hours of Adult Beginner French Classes from Popular Companies
The above table displays the costs associated with just 20 hours of French language instruction. Most students need hundreds of hours of learning to become fluent in a new language, so learning through classes alone can quickly become very expensive.
Luckily, there are plenty of free resources and cost-effective methods to learn a new language rapidly. You can use the following methods to integrate learning into your social life and efficiently master a new language.
Find a Language Partner and Join a Language Exchange Group
Rather than viewing language study as another chore in your day, you can learn much faster by integrating foreign language into your social life. An easy way to do this is by finding a language exchange partner. For example, if you are studying Japanese and you find a Japanese exchange student who is trying to improve their English, you can make a new friend and improve your language skills at the same time.
An easy way to start a language exchange partnership is to find some common activities you like to do together and spend half of your time speaking in each person’s language of study. You can find a language partner by joining a language exchange group on Facebook or using a website like The Mixxer to find an international language partner. While you will have to spend some time speaking in your own language with a language partner, you benefit from learning from a native speaker at no cost.
You can also join a language exchange club to meet a group of like-minded students looking to study together. Meetup and Tandem have language exchange groups for English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and dozens of other languages.
Most language exchange is free aside from the optional costs of meeting a partner for coffee or a meal. An excellent way to learn a new language and culture at the same time is through food. You can use a credit card with high cashback for dining out to save money on your language exchange expenses.
Leverage Free Online Resources
While textbooks are an important resource for learning vocabulary and grammar, you can find an endless amount of articles, videos, and other resources online for free. Even better, this content is often written for native speakers, which will prepare you for using a foreign language at the highest levels.
Listening to blogs and podcasts made by native speakers is an excellent way to improve your listening skills and find content that matches your interests. You can passively listen to blogs while you do household chores or commute to work, depending on your interests and schedule. As you advance your skills, you can replace your daily news intake with content from your target language.
Another excellent way to improve your listening skills is watching movies and TV shows in another language. For Korean language students, watching K-dramas will help you learn how natives speak and make studying far more enjoyable than sitting in class. While a subscription to a streaming service for movies and TV shows will cost more than free media and blogs, it is still cheaper than language courses. Students in Singapore can also enjoy deals on streaming services like Netflix and Spotify with select student credit cards.
Lastly, you can download free language apps like Duolingo to learn new vocabulary and practice grammar. Using an app for just a few minutes a day can cement learning from other sources and fill gaps in your knowledge from language exchange or watching content in a foreign language.
Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities to live abroad are currently significantly limited. However, once the pandemic subsides, living or studying abroad will again be a practical way to master a new language.
You might think that living abroad is one of the least affordable ways to learn a language, but there are a few ways it can pay off. There is no faster way to absorb a new language than to immerse yourself in the appropriate cultural environment. Spending a few weeks or months in another country can allow you to learn what might take years in a classroom in Singapore, and there are affordable opportunities out there.
There are scholarships all around the world available for language learning. For example, Chinese learners can apply for the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan and receive a stipend of 25,000 NTD per month for language study. Scholarships for Development has a list of international scholarships for Singaporeans that is regularly updated. Students can also apply for an education loan to study abroad and rapidly gain language proficiency while completing their university studies.
There are many ways to quickly gain language proficiency without breaking your budget. Using language exchange and free online resources, you can build a robust study schedule and study for significantly less money than buying textbooks and attending hundreds of hours of language courses.