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Open Online Courses in Language

What is Language?

Language is the spoken method people use to communicate. There are thousands of human languages that are spoken around the world, and the study of language theory is known as linguistics. Languages comprise vocabulary, which are the words used, and grammar and syntax, which are the rules governing how sentences and other grammatical structures are constructed. While most languages are spoken, some dead languages can only be found and studied in their written forms today.

What Can Online Courses in Language Actually Teach Me?

Online language courses can teach a specific language, such as French, Chinese, or Spanish, or can improve your skills in the English language. In many ways, online courses are a great way to learn the grammar and vocabulary of a language, though to become fluent in it you will need to practice that language with a native speaker, or you can spend a semester abroad at a foreign university. If you are already fluent in a language and would like to teach it, you can take an online language class in language education. You can also teach English as a second language (ESL) to students either at home or in many countries around the world. ESL courses train you in English grammar and syntax as well as teaching methods specific for either children or adults, and prepare you to take ESL exams such as the TESOL or the Cambridge ESOL.

Online courses in a specific language can teach you the rules of grammar of that language, its common vocabulary, and spelling and pronunciation, while those in ESL also focus on language teaching methods. Students taking an online language course will be able to answer questions such as:

  • What are the required courses I have to take before receiving an ESL teaching certificate?
  • What is the essential vocabulary I need to teach non-native English speakers?
  • What are the grammatical cases the language I am learning utilizes and what are the common exceptions?
  • What are the non-verbal methods of communication a speaker of the language I am studying would use, and how do they differ from American methods?
  • What are the differences between English and the language I am studying?

When considering college language programs, above all you want to make sure the college or university you are interested in offers courses in the language you want to study, and relevant education courses that will prepare you to take a certificate exam if you plan on teaching in that language. For ESL, the program should be certified by TESOL, Cambridge ESOL, or a similar agency. You also need to ensure that the ESL program you are considering is accredited by the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA) if you would like to pursue a Ph.D. in language afterwards.

Free Online Courses in Language From Around the Web

There are a lot of options for learning languages or preparing for ESL exams online, and we have compiled several online language resources for you below. These include videos with lectures, class materials such as online text files and tests, and relevant texts and worksheets for studying languages. These materials are free for you to take advantage of while studying a language online.

Subjects

Language (8)

Creole Language and CultureUniversity of Notre Dame

Open Courseware

Culture Studies, Creative Studies, Linguistics, Reading
Taught by: Karen Richman

Course Description:

This reading online course encourages you to enroll even if you have no prior experience with Creole language or culture since it is designed to improve your Creole writing and reading skills, with specific emphasis on grammar, syntax and phonetic techniques. This course was published in Spring 2007, allows both undergraduates and graduate students and has no academic prerequisites. However, you should be prepared to complete weekly quizzes, take-home essays pertaining to course reading materials, a mid-term and a final exam.

Germany Today: Intensive Study of German Language and CultureMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Open Courseware

German, Language, Culture, Professionals
Taught by: Ellen Crocker

Course Description:

Prepares students for working and living in German-speaking countries. Focus on current political, social, and cultural issues, using newspapers, journals, TV, radio broadcasts, and Web sources from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Emphasis on speaking, writing, and reading skills for professional contexts. Activities include: oral presentations, group discussions, guest lectures, and interviews with German speakers. No listeners.

Portuguese IIMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Open Courseware

Portuguese, Linguistics, Language
Taught by: Dr. Nilma Dominique

Course Description:

Dr. Nilma Dominique originally presented this Portuguese course in 2012. Appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students, it encourages participants to expand their communication skills and develop linguistic competency using a variety of sources, including the Internet, audio and video files, and printed materials. The immersive course is a continuation of Course 21F.801, and is conducted entirely in Portuguese.

Chinese I (Regular)Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Open Courseware

Chinese, Mandarin, Language
Taught by: Dr. Julian K. Wheatley

Course Description:

This course is the first of two that form an introduction to modern standard Chinese, commonly called Mandarin. Originally taught by Dr. Julian K. Wheatley in 2006, it allows undergraduate and graduate students to develop: basic conversational abilities (pronunciation, fundamental grammatical patterns, common vocabulary, and standard usage); basic reading and writing skills, in both the traditional character set and the simplified; and an understanding of the language learning process so that students can continue studying effectively on their own.

Elementary Russian IUniversity of Saskatchewan

Open Courseware

Russian, Language, Vocabulary, Culture
Taught by: Eleonora Usenkova

Course Description:

This course is an introduction the Russian and is intended to provide students basic proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and understanding Russian. Course instructor Eleonora Usenoka provides an overview for basic grammatical structures, sound patterns, spelling and vocab. To enhance the learning you will be introduced Russian society, culture, locals and real-life experiences of Russian people.

Intermediate Japanese IMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Open Courseware

Language, Japanese
Taught by: Miyuki Hatano-Cohen, Yoshimi Nagaya, Ayumi Nagatomi

Course Description:

This course covers JSL (Japanese: the Spoken Language, Part 1, by Eleanor H. Jorden with Mari Noda, Yale University Press, 1987) Lessons 12 through 17, providing opportunities to acquire basic skills for conversation, reading, and writing. The program emphasizes ACTIVE command of Japanese, not passive knowledge. The goal is not simply to study the grammar and vocabulary, but to improve the ability to use Japanese accurately and appropriately with fluency, building on the basic skills gained in Japanese I and II. Students learn approximately 80 Kanji characters in this course.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Podcast - Learn English Online

Podcast

English, Language, Secondary Language

Course Description:

This free ESL podcast series from the Center for Educational Development is a handy tool for anyone who wants to improve their English speaking and listening skills.

Japanese IMassachusetts Institute of Technology

Textbook

Language, Japanese
Taught by: Masami Ikeda-Lamm, Yoshimi Nagaya

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to modern standard Japanese with an emphasis on developing proficiency in speaking and listening, using basic grammar and vocabulary. Basic skills in reading and writing are also taught.