Free Language Courses MOOCs for Winter 2017-2018

MOOC

(image from Wikimedia.org)

This list is in response to a question for free language courses on the Mixxer site Facebook page.  When people ask about free courses, they're usually referring to MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses).  MOOCs are pretty amazing.  They are like traditional online courses in that they have quality content that is structured by a qualified instructor (often some of the best-known professors in the field).  In addition to the content, there are usually quizzes each week allowing you to do some self-assessment.  Finally, you are able to connect with other students interested in the same material.  If you get stuck, hopefully there's a way to get help via other members of the course.

That being said, MOOCs lack some qualities of a traditional course that are important, especially in the languages.  First and foremost, there is virtually no contact with the instructors.  They usually post videos that you can listen to, but you are unlikely to communicate with the instructor directly at all.  While there is hopefully some means of contact with other students, you will not have the frequent opportunity to practice communicating in the target that you would in a quality traditional course.  Second, while taking the course is free, receiving any kind of certification is not.  Even if you are willing to pay a fee, very few MOOCs lead to any kind of degree that would be recognized by an employer or an academic institution.

My suggestion is to treat MOOCs for that they, an excellent content resource for your learning.  If you're an active Mixxer user, hopefully you also have a language partner as well.  In addition to giving you an opportunity to practice communicating in the target language, your partner can also hopefully help with questions and other challenges you encounter in the course.  In regards to assessment and accreditation, language learners are also fortunate that there are well-recognized exams that can be taken to measure proficiency.  For English there is the TOEFL.  In the U.S., ACTFL provides exams in a number of foreign languages.  Elsewhere, there are organizations that provide an exam for a single such as the Cervantes Institue for Spanish, Goethe Institute for German, France's Ministry of Education for French, Confucius Institute for Chinese, the Japan Foundation for Japanese,  etc.  While these are not free, they're much cheaper than a degree and provide a way to certify your language skills that is broadly recognized.

Hopefully I haven't killed your enthusiasm.  If you're still game, the major players in MOOCs that I have had some experience with include:

Some other famous providers that I have not tried include:

With most of these courses, they will strongly encourage you to pay for the certification when you sign up.  Sometimes it's even hard to find the free version.  Choose the option to audit the course or be an auditor if you're looking for the free version.

These are the language courses I was able to find.  Keep in mind as well, though, any course in the target language will be helpful to language learning if you're interested in the topic.  It may seem daunting at first, but if you can read the content and follow the videos (even if slowly), you should give it a try.  I also listed the course start date when there is one, but since you're mostly interested in the content, I wouldn't let it deter you if the course is old.

 

Arabic

Chinese

English

French

Italian

Japanese

Korean

Portuguese

Russian

Spanish

Not quite a MOOC - content structured as a course, but is only content.  There are no quizzes or tools to interact with other students