You are going to learn a new language. You have talked with others, done the research, and made the choice of which you want to tackle. That is the first part of the process. Now you need to start gathering the various materials and resources you are going to use for studying.
In the pre-internet days, you would most likely be looking at courses being offered in your area. If you felt more independent, you would be browsing your nearby stores for course books, dictionaries, and audio lessons. What you were able to find was limited to what you could obtain locally and what you could afford.
When people take it for granted that others will produce something for free, they often start developing the attitude that the person now owes it to them.
If taking a course is more your style, you can access classes in universities and independent companies on a global scale and engage in long-distance learning.
In the modern age, you are given full access to materials from all over the world. You can find books and audio courses for sale on huge sites like Amazon and Ebay, or you could buy directly from companies like Pimseleur, Rosetta Stone, or Living Languages.
The added bonus is that these courses and materials can be found for a much larger variety of language, so the problem of availability is almost completely eliminated, although you may still have a problem finding stuff for lesser known languages.
Cutting the Cost
Pre-internet language learning: paid classes
So the only other major limiting factor would be the cost, and even that can be largely dismissed, because the internet also gives you access to a multitude of free learning sources and aids. Not only can you find inexpensive or free language books and audios, but there are also countless free websites and programs to make learning your chosen new language a breeze.
Two of the most popular free learning websites that people adore are Memrise and Duolingo. Here, they can select from tons of languages and lessons created by other language lovers to pick-up the vocabulary and grammar they need. Other sites like Lang-8 give them a chance to practise their writing skills and have others correct them.
There are other ways you can learn without spending anything. People meet on social networks and in communities to converse in various languages, so you can easily find a partner who will help you. Language exchange or tandem sites, like WeSpeke and My Language Exchange are great places to find partners to learn from and practise with.
In short, you can find ways to learn, all for free. And free is good!
Modern language learning: choose your app
The methods I have mentioned so far for getting resources are all quite legal and encouraged. But what if you really want that Living Language French course or a Japanese Pimsleur course but cannot afford it, there are places online you can get those as well without paying for them. Because the internet is global and actually created to be impossible to control, there is a lot of piracy of music, movies, and even books. Think of it as the biggest Black Market in the world.
People who get their materials from such places always have ways to justify what they are doing. Some will explain that they would pay for the stuff if they could afford it, but since they cannot, they have no choice but to just take it.
Others will take on an attitude that the companies that produce such stuff are greedy, and therefore deserve to be stolen from. Or perhaps those companies just make so much money that they will not possibly miss you not paying for a copy. It is not that much, after all.
Now, I am not trying to preach anything, since many of us have probably used such materials before and made similar justifications. It is important, however,to recognize that our society has largely accepted an entitlement mentality. We want things for free, and if they are not free, then we feel justified in taking them.
Nothing is Free
Even if something is labelled as free, someone is paying for it
The problem with the view point that we want all our materials to be free (or we find a way to get them for free) is that nothing is ever created or produced without something going into it, like time, effort, and money. Sites like Memrise still require people to build not only the courses but the site itself, as well as paying for the computer that runs the site. People have given much of themselves so that you can have a language learning resource at no cost to you.
We can see the same things in books. Even if you can get a free book or a book for free (one legal, one illegal), someone still spent a lot of time writing that book, and that time has value, as does the knowledge and experience they used to create it. In fact, there is nothing worth having that did not involve someone doing work in its creation.
Now the argument can be made that many people choose to do this on their own. The are creating the materials and making them available to everyone, without asking to be paid, so everything is fine, right?
I would have to give that a tentative answer of "yes", but there is an underlying problem with that which is rarely spoken about. It is the hidden cost of using free materials: motivation.
Creating materials takes a lot of work and planning
Despite what we might want to believe, the adage "Money makes the world go around" is true. Unless we find a way to get by on almost nothing or have the luxury of having all our expenses paid for by someone else, we all need money to buy what we need to survive.
That is true even for the people who create language stuff. They can make that money either by selling what they create or by getting paid for other work they do. You also want to be paid for work you do because without that money, your own needs and wants are not met.
So we come to the paradox of wanting everything we have to buy as being free, but also feeling like we should be compensated for the work we do. In a utopian world, perhaps everything would be completely free, and we would never have to worry about money at all. Sadly, that is unlikely and even if it were, it still has the problem of motivation.
Working, creating, building - these are all things we can do purely because we wish to. There are always people that want to help others and will do it without thought of compensation. They will write books, create courses, set up websites, all to add to the knowledge collective, just because it makes them happy to do so.
The individuals that will engage in this selflessness are part of a very small group, however. Most people require a greater motivation than simply "makes me happy". How many times have you taken on a large project for someone else's benefit in which you got nothing in return? Probably few, if any at all.
This is not because people are greedy (although some might be focusing just on money, I admit). It is because we want to feel needed and appreciated, at the very least. Above that, we need some kind of compensation for our work so that we can afford to also live the lives we want.
|The Cost of Free Language Resources|
All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.
|Letter From The Editor - Free Things|
|The Cost of Free Language Resources|
|Review of Polyglot Workshops: Brazil|
|Easier Way to Learn Languages Fast|
|Dream, decide, do - tips from a polyglot|
|At the Cinema - Cambio de Ruta|
|Languages in Peril - Talysh|
|Where Are You?|
|App Rev - Tandem|
|Book Look - Language Master Key|
|At A Glance|
Find previous issues in the archives.
Letter From The Editor - No Politics • Make Your Own Language Group • A History of Research in Study Abroad • Parrot Time on Patreon • Languages in Peril - Sayonara, Ainu • At the Cinema - La Coppia dei Campioni • Where Are You? • Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots • Basic Guide to Romanian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Hope and Failing • Six Ways To Choose Which Languages To Learn • Learning Spanish - The trials, the tribulations and one triumphant learning hack • At the Cinema - The Last King (Birkebeinerne) • Celebrations - Birkebeinerrennet • Where Are You? • Book Look - Langenscheidt Dictionaries • Basic Guide to Swedish • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again • Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture • Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland • Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien! • In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig • At the Cinema - Monster Hunt • Where Are You? • Book Look - Language Alter Ego • Basic Guide to Italian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - A Kind Word • Language and Power: The Hidden Struggle • 4 Ways To Learn Through Reading • Language Learning is for everyone! • Languages in Peril - The Decline of Sicilian • At the Cinema - The Host • Where Are You? • Book Look - Italian Short Stories for Beginners • Basic Guide to Hungarian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Making it Happen • Motivation - Expressing oneself and the expression of oneself in language learning • Motivation Killers in Learning a Language • Mixing Languages and Relationships • In Others' Words - Brian Powers • At the Cinema - Cutting Room Floor • Languages in Peril - Cyprus' Language Revival Approach Problem • Where Are You? • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - The Importance of Travel • Broadening The Mind Travels The World • The Secret Life of Diacritics • There Are No Wrong And Right Gestures, Only Cultural Differences • Google Translate Exposed: - The Truth Behind Everyone's Favorite Translator • At the Cinema - Queen • Book Look - The A to Z of Learning German • Where Are You? • Basic Guide to Papiamentu • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Free Things • The Cost of Free Language Resources • Review of Polyglot Workshops: Brazil • Easier Way to Learn Languages Fast • Dream, decide, do - tips from a polyglot • At the Cinema - Cambio de Ruta • Languages in Peril - Talysh • Where Are You? • App Rev - Tandem • Book Look - Language Master Key • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Studying in Summer • Polyglot Events All Around The World - You Are Not Alone • Playing Games with Language • Spanish E-training – The 'Big Bang' Investment • Can a Language Die? • At the Cinema - La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos • Languages in Peril - Scottish Gaelic • Words in Your Mouth - Apple • Celebrations - Nag Panchami • Where Are You? • Book Look - Fluency Made Achievable: The Fluent Guide to Core Language Skills • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Sounds Like • How Do You Say It? - A look at sound notation systems • Of Pidgins and Creoles - A look at how some languages are born • Who Are You To Learn A Language? • At the Cinema - Dil Chahta Hai • Languages in Peril - Yumans on the Edge • Words in Your Mouth - Egg • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Breaking with Tradition • Are You Wasting Your Money on Language Classes? • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 2: Voice Chats • Why English Is Different Than Any Other Language • The Digital Language Collective • At the Cinema - Viva La Libertà • Languages in Peril - The Tribes of the Tamil-Kannada • Words in Your Mouth - Rice • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Thirteen • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 1: Text Chats • Why Do People Learn Languages? • The Question Of Practice - An International Language Is Possible • At the Cinema - Chinese Puzzle • Celebrations - Fastelavn • Words in Your Mouth - Cheese • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Over Time • Which Language Is...? • The Ultimate Fate of Language Learning • 5 Funny Words In Afrikaans From My Perspective • At the Cinema - Everybody's Famous! • Word on the Streets - Why Writers are Important • Words in Your Mouth - Milk • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - World Ambassadors • Coming Home to Faroese - The Why and How of Learning a Small Language • Danish and Faroese: A Biography • At the Cinema - Ludo • Basic Guide to Faroese • Celebrations - The Faroese Festival Summer • Revisted - The Faroe Islands • Word on the Streets - Famous Faroe Islanders • Where Are You? • The Grind: Why the Faroese Hunt Whales • The Legend of the Scottish Princess • Faroese Ballads - Nornagest Ríma and Ormurin Langi
Letter From The Editor - Expansion • Religion in Culture • Languages in Peril - Decline of the Gallo-Italics • Language Learning and Translation • Word on the Streets - Italian Greats • Book Look • At the Cinema - Xingu • Celebrations - Hangul Day • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Bread
Letter From The Editor - Tracing Words • Constructed Languages - Making It All Up • Language Conflicts - Flemish vs. Walloon • Rohonc Codex - Hungarian Enigma • At the Cinema - Il Comandante e la Cicogna - Garibaldi's Lovers • Where Are You? • Words in Your Mouth - Sausage • Book Look • GlobTech - Using Locale
Letter From The Editor - Globalization • Speaking with Aliens • Celebrations - Esala Perahera - The Festival of the Tooth • Language Conflicts - Bokmål vs. Nynorsk • At the Cinema - Pane e Tulipani - Bread and Tulips • Revisited - Words Which Have Changed Their Meaning • Languages in Peril - Keeping Up With The Kartvelians • Where Are You? • Sections - Reviews • Word on the Streets - Indonesian Innovators • GlobTech - Google Translate Section
Letter From The Editor - The Highlander Condition • When Languages Meet • At the Cinema - Mal Día Para Pescar - Bad Day to Go Fishing • Celebrations - Tanabata - The Star Festival • Languages in Peril - The Romanian Relatives • Revisited - Words Made By Great Writers • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Immersion • Sections - Links
Letter From The Editor - Price of Fame • Liber Linteus - Mummified Language • Pencak Silat • At the Cinema - Bombay • Celebrations - Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun • Cracking the Code • Languages in Peril - The Chibchan Family • Revisited - Words From The Names Of Animals • Word on the Streets - Great German Authors • Where Are You? • Language Learning Methods - Internet • Sections - Neighborhood
Letter From The Editor - Why Polynesian? • Rongorongo - Island Chants • Otto Dempwolff - Islands of Language • At the Cinema - Whale Rider • Celebrations - Pasifika Festival • Special Feature - Avoiuli • Languages in Peril - The Island Invasion • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui's Home • Word on the Streets - Malay Masters • Where Are You? • Revisited - Legends of Maui - Maui Snaring the Sun
Letter From The Editor - Linguist or Polyglot • The Phaistos Disc - Puzzle of Crete • Otto Jespersen - Progress of Language • At the Cinema - Kukushka - The Cuckoo • Celebrations - Carnival • Languages in Peril - The Salish Tragedy • Word on the Streets - Kannada Writers • Where Are You? • Revisited - Stories In The Names Of Places • New Souls • Language Learning Methods - Software • Sections - Parleremo YouTube
Letter From The Editor - Freaking Out • The Voynich Script - Cryptic Codex • Benjamin Whorf - Relativity of Language • At the Cinema - Lost in Translation • Languages in Peril - The Polish Connection • Word on the Streets - Romanian Poets • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Holi • A Language Dream • Revisited - Words From National Character • Language Learning Methods - Classes • Sections - Language Exchange
Letter From The Editor - Truth in Advertising • Linear A & Linear B - Lost Minoan • Edward Sapir - Patterns of Language • At the Cinema - Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner • Word on the Streets - Norwegian Notables • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Valentine's Day • Languages in Peril - The Rhaeto-Romance Trio • Revisited - Proverbs • Linguistics Love Song • Language Learning Methods - Books • Sections - Recordings
Letter From The Editor - A New Parrot Time • The Rosetta Stone - Triple Cypher • Ferdinand de Saussure - Signs of Language • At the Cinema - L'auberge Espagnole • Languages in Peril - The Finno-Ugrics • Word on the Streets - The Russian Zone • Where Are You? • Celebrations - Day of the Dead • Revisited - Slang • We Are The Linguists • Language Learning Methods - Audio • Sections - Journals
Subscribe to Parrot Time!