Friday, March 28, 2014

Online Language Learning Resources: BBC Languages

As part of a new series here on The Lingua File, we'll be looking at the some of the language learning resources available on the web with a view to providing you with an unbiased and fair opinion of the best websites and places to learn a new language. To start things off we'll take a look at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and their language learning resource bbc.co.uk/languages.

On a personal note, we've used the BBC's languages service to learn languages before, German and Italian in particular. While the beginner classes may be too simple for a seasoned language learner, if you are trying to learn a language for fun with no strict goal in mind, BBC languages may be best suited to you.

A large number of languages are offered, however the amount of resources for each language can vary wildly. Whilst the most common languages have a wealth of resources, a large number of the 40-odd languages offered by the "Beeb" have nothing more than a few words and phrases to get you by if you're going on a trip to somewhere that speaks the language.

The BBC Languages homepage,
complete with disappointing message.
Another disappointing fact about BBC Languages is that it hasn't been updated for a while. One of the first things you'll meet when visiting the site is a huge off-putting message stipulating that the site hasn't been updated in a while but it has been left by the BBC for reference. If you want to start learning one of the languages with a multitude of resources, then you should be fine, but don't start on one of the languages with fewer resources unless you've already got another preferred resource to swap over to once you're finished with BBC Languages.

One of the main advantages of BBC Languages over other language learning resources is that it's free. On top of being free, it is also ad free, which while not an indicator of whether a language resource is good or not, it is something we don't like popping up all over the place, though we do understand that a lot of other language websites aren't funded by UK residents paying their TV license.

Despite its flaws, for the languages with a large number of courses, BBC Languages is certainly a good resource for learning a language casually, perhaps during a lunch or coffee break. We'd give it a 7/10. Good, but not great.

Do you know of any better language learning resources? Tell us about them in the comments below!