Language courses, courtesy of the United States government (and some devoted language learners)
August 17, 2006 1:35 AM   Subscribe


 
These courses were designed by the Foreign Service Institute for use in their training programs as well as in other branches of government. The site features Cantonese, French, German, Greek, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Standard Chinese, and Turkish.

More from the Defense Language Institute: beginning language courses and lessons designed to improve analytical skills for more advanced students. Languages vary widely among the two and tend toward the more defense-centric, natch.


LiTgloss
seeks to annotate meaningful texts from a variety of languages to enhance learning.

The Jesus film, a tool used by missionaries, has been translated into 900+ languages, 800+ of which are available online. Along the same lines is Every Tongue, which boasts Scripture in 5,457 languages online. Find a language you've never heard of before (and you will)? Look it up on Ethnologue.

Disclaimer: In no way is this post intended to proselytize; it just happens that these particular religious groups have compiled incredibly rich collections of audio files of rare languages, and their sites allow you to listen and read side by side with languages you know.
posted by anjamu at 1:35 AM on August 17, 2006 [3 favorites]


Nice one! ta!
posted by pompomtom at 1:47 AM on August 17, 2006


This is wonderful, now I can put off learning another language secure in the knowledge that the material is available to me free and whenever I want it. (Really, nice find)
posted by IronLizard at 2:30 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes, especially since there are outfits out there slapping these on CDs and recycling them at three or four hundred dollars a pop. Super find!
posted by jfuller at 2:44 AM on August 17, 2006


And, oh yeah, serious hat tip to the people who put up the site and made the material available.
posted by jfuller at 2:45 AM on August 17, 2006


now I can put off learning another language

...while I can give myself an excuse to buy an mp3 player.

This place has everything!
posted by pompomtom at 2:45 AM on August 17, 2006


Some day ... I hope to find enough time to maybe go outside, visits friends or take in a movie.

This ain't helping.
posted by RavinDave at 2:58 AM on August 17, 2006


Dear Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone,

Suck it.

Love,

Optamystic
posted by Optamystic at 3:06 AM on August 17, 2006


Very nice.
posted by caddis at 3:21 AM on August 17, 2006


Anjamu, you are a wonderful person.
posted by rdr at 3:31 AM on August 17, 2006


This is a huge (and overdue) service, especially providing the audio. The text would be much more useful if it were actually text, instead of images, but perhaps in time. The FSI materials are fantastic, even if they're a little dated, and a little stodgy. I've spent ages turning FSI stuff into supermemo collections and it really changed the way I think about language learning.

These used to be available directly from the state department for a very small fee, but they stopped doing that at some point and companies started charging a mint for the books, and absolutely an arm and a leg for the audio materials. I've had it in the back of the mind to do a site like this for the ones I have; now maybe I can contribute to this one instead.

Thanks for the post.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:35 AM on August 17, 2006


BBC Language Instruction (French, Spanish, German, Italian, +), Learning German (at Deutsche Welle), Learning French from Radio France.
posted by unmake at 4:26 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Very nice post!
posted by clevershark at 4:32 AM on August 17, 2006


Anybody seen any good Swedish materials? Perhaps a forum for those learning the language?
posted by Tzarius at 4:41 AM on August 17, 2006


Beautiful. There is a good chance that I will have to learn Greek and Turkish for my job.
posted by Alison at 5:00 AM on August 17, 2006


For those who'd like to rip an entire section more easily, I recommend the DownloadThemAll! Mozilla extension.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:01 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I used to be self-conscious about doing the Pimsleur thing on my iPod. Now and march through downtown chattering "bù xiǎng, xièxie nǐ. kěshì, wǒ xiǎng hē yīdiǎ'r dōngxi." and pretending I'm trying to pick up a girl on Long Peace Street.

Winos avoid me.
posted by RavinDave at 5:07 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is so excellent, and, of course, by that I mean: What IronLizard said!
posted by OmieWise at 5:33 AM on August 17, 2006


Holy crap. Best of the web, indeed. I've acquired a number of those FSI books over the years (mostly for languages they're not going to be putting online any time soon, like Amharic and Fula), and they're really wonderful ("stodgy" indeed! what, you need HAPPY FUN MULTIMEDIA to learn a language?). Thanks, anjamu!
posted by languagehat at 5:49 AM on August 17, 2006


chattering "bù xiǎng, xièxie nǐ. kěshì, wǒ xiǎng hē yīdiǎ'r dōngxi."

Weird how that one little 'r brings back that Beijing whine I hated so much when I heard it in Taiwan. Yidian, dammit, yidian!

posted by languagehat at 5:52 AM on August 17, 2006


Yeah, well ... Pimsleur Mandarin has a Northen bias. What can I say? Drives me up a wall too.

By the way, LH ... what do they use for texts at Monterey? I was thinking they used FSI material, but I'm probably wrong.

And if the Government won't supply copies anymore -- is this stuff just rotting on a shelf somewhere?
posted by RavinDave at 6:01 AM on August 17, 2006


What IronLizard said.
Gracias!!
posted by Floydd at 6:20 AM on August 17, 2006


I am going to use that + add to favorites link for the very first time.
posted by JanetLand at 6:31 AM on August 17, 2006


what do they use for texts at Monterey?

No idea, sorry.
posted by languagehat at 6:37 AM on August 17, 2006


("stodgy" indeed! what, you need HAPPY FUN MULTIMEDIA to learn a language?)
Did you notice that I described them as "fantastic" there? And I've recommended the FSI courses repeatedly in the green and still think they're one of the best resources available. It doesn't really change the fact that, if you don't add something a little more up-to-date to your learning regimen, the conversational skills you develop are going to be excellent for someone from the 1950s who likes to talk about crops and the state department. Hence, "stodgy".

Personally, I don't need HAPPY FUN MULTIMEDIA and I don't need your incessant, condescending shit, either. If there was any point to that parenthetical aside other than condescension, sorry I missed it.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2006


Wolfdog got the rabies.
posted by Optamystic at 6:44 AM on August 17, 2006


This is great. I want to brush up on my French (for which you can actualy read "I need to re-learn French). Now if anyone can find me a decent Kiswahili course available on-line...
posted by davehat at 6:49 AM on August 17, 2006


Jeez, Wolfdog, it was a joke. Lighten up.

Besides, I am someone from the 1950s who likes to talk about crops and the state department. "My state department has excellent crops! And yours?" My wife and I sit around all day exchanging remarks like that.

In six languages.
posted by languagehat at 7:19 AM on August 17, 2006


this is such a great post, I never sign up in time for the German courses at the local Goethe Institute. Now maybe if I can find a willing German language partner...
posted by parmanparman at 7:24 AM on August 17, 2006


what do they use for texts at Monterey?

They use their own "in-house" materials, for everything from presenting grammar, practicing listening and reading, of course for military subjects and also for cultural studies. You get, especially at the beginning, original passages and essays ("My Family", "Renting and Apartment", that sort of basic thing that you need to establish a foundation), but they also have reams of "authentic materials" ranging from ads and menus and letters to newspaper articles. Recently they might also use a lot of stuff from the internet in class, especially the bbc news sites in foreign languages. Of course, I can't speak for all the programs there. And for the advanced courses they have a different set of materials, I hear they do a lot more reading of actual books, but don't quote me on that. I know I've seen their stuff being peddled on eBay before.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:59 AM on August 17, 2006


This is awesome, thanks!

The g/f and I were just looking at Rosetta Stone for Spanish. Why is the Spanish course here labelled "programmatic"? Do you learn "El C++"? ;)
posted by mkultra at 8:19 AM on August 17, 2006


Yeah, well ... Pimsleur Mandarin has a Northen bias. What can I say? Drives me up a wall too.

Except they also have things like zhe4li3, which is decidedly not a Northern word. In the north, it'd be zher4.
posted by jiawen at 8:43 AM on August 17, 2006


Besides, I am someone from the 1950s who likes to talk about crops and the state department. "My state department has excellent crops! And yours?" My wife and I sit around all day exchanging remarks like that.

In six languages.


The Impossible Dream!
posted by fake at 9:34 AM on August 17, 2006


I now see languagehat in a cardigan with the Beav running up the stairs, "Bonjour, Papa!" and Eddie Haskell ribbing Lumpy with "Je ne parle pas Dork."
posted by ?! at 12:42 PM on August 17, 2006


If only they had the dirty words too. The only Turkish I know. "Ibne sin!" To any Turks, just kidding.
posted by snsranch at 5:34 PM on August 17, 2006


This is awesome and I wish I had seen it on August 17 instead of today.

But I was already too busy. I still am. But this is great.
posted by blacklite at 4:50 PM on August 20, 2006


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