I see a lot of people on various language forums constantly looking for free resources to the point where they ignore anything that may cost the price of a couple of Frappuchinos – and I think this is a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to save money as much as the next guy, and of course you can easily run up a tab learning languages if you’re not careful, but at the same time, I feel like a lot of the “free” resources out there are simply not as effective as the ones you can get at a really good price if you just look around.
The first language course I got was Assimil French which I found for $30 on Amazon from a bulk re-seller, brand new with CDs. That’s anywhere from 3 to 6 months worth of professionally produced study material that’s way more effective than any of the free stuff you find. That’s $5 to $10 per month. And yes, that was probably an unusually good deal, but they’re out there.
On the forums here I see people complain as to free resources available on LingQ, and I always feel like bringing this up: we shouldn’t prioritize free resources, we should be asking “What are the best deals, the best values for our money?” because often these will be vastly better than anything you can get for free.
For example, a basic subscription here is $10/ month, that’s $2.5 a week, or one freshly brewed venti coffee at Starbucks. For that amount, you can import anything, in as many languages that are supported. And now your studyable resources have opened up to everything ever put on the internet in that language.
Or when it comes to content, people constantly point to public domain books because they’re free, and public domain narrations because they’re free. And yes some of these are AWESOME, especially if that’s the kinda stuff you’re into, but lets face it, some of these books are… (and I hope my literature professor is not reading this, but…) boring, aged, or contain language nuances that you won’t actually be able to truly appreciate until you’re way advanced.
Whereas on Amazon / Audible, you could get some great contemporary books with whisper sync pricing for $11 – both text and audio included, with a professional narrator – which will hold your interest better, teaches you contemporary usage better, etc. etc.
So now you just spent $21 to study a language for a month – you would spend more on gas per month just to get to a language class, and that’s before you even fed the parking meter.
A BIG CAVEAT HERE – Yes, I do understand that we have an international group here, and economic resources vary around the globe. I don’t mean to sound insensitive to that. For many people, free resources are the only viable option, and I’m glad to see that those resources continue to be more and more available for everyone.
I’m talking here of a trend I notice in general, not just here, but in my real life interactions, of people valuing something sub-par, simply because it’s available free of charge, versus spending just a little bit of money in order to get something that will give them vastly better results for the time spent.
So, that’s why I always say: Free is good, but a Good Deal is often way better.