I love writing, art, music, food, finance, hanging out with my favourites & being a productive night owl.
Published January 18th 2012
What's the best way to learn a language in Sydney?
Learning a language can be an extremely fantastic and productive hobby. It can help you with your travels, open your mind and even assist you professionally, not to mention give you an extremely rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
The only issue is that it's a weeknight and you can't really be bothered leaving the house as you're probably pretty tired after work or study. You want to do something useful and equally fun. Why not at least try learning a language then, seeing as you can do it from home?
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In fact, there are actually free options available to you if you wish and all you need is an internet connection. You can choose how much depth you interact with these options. Some websites allow you to work towards a certificate of proficiency, whilst others encourage you to interact with native speakers of the language you're interested in learning.
If you wish to leave the house however, there are also options available to you. This is understandable because some people just learn better face-to-face, especially when it comes to languages.
Free Online Language Courses
BBC Latin-Based Languages Steps If you're interested in the basics for some of the ever-so-popular French, Italian, German or Spanish – try the free BBC "Steps" courses. For twelve weeks, you will study the basics of your chosen language and receive a BBC certificate. If you like certificates, studying online and a very structured program – this might be the website for you. A high degree of autonomy is required when it comes to doing online courses but if you enjoy this kind of thing, it might just be for you.
For those who are interested in languages other than those, but including those, there's LiveMocha. You can connect to LiveMocha via Facebook if you wish. Alternatively, just go to the website and make an account. This isn't just a course website, this is a community. You can choose to interact with others on LiveMocha as much or as little as you wish. How does this work?
Well, you register and choose a language you wish to learn. You're given what are called tokens and you can spend them on courses. Different companies provide courses for the languages, so a Russian 101 course might be of a different structure and brand to the Italian basics course. You purchase each item within your course for tokens, for example, a quiz in a basic Italian course costs 45 tokens. There are role-plays, quizzes, video dialogues, oral, verbal and even serious test type exercises all for free, or rather for the cost of tokens.
What do these tokens cost? Well, it depends. Do you like giving back? The thing about LiveMocha is that when you submit a written or oral exercise, a native speaker of your language's community will evaluate it for you. This means that in actual fact, especially due to the amount of languages on offer, you can do this for people as well. It will earn you tokens. I'm fairly certain that if you wish, you can buy tokens for hard cash. Marking a paragraph of basic English is at least for myself – a lot more rewarding and financially safe. This is how I earn my tokens and continue my language courses. People are often very grateful for your feedback, especially if you put your heart and soul into being genuinely helpful. The assignments you correct are only a few lines at most, or 30 seconds or so of speech.
If you wish to engage in the oral exercises you require a microphone but you can quite easily pick one up for fifteen dollars or so if you don't have one. Most modern laptops will feature it with a webcam.
The reason I speak so highly of LiveMocha is because of the sheer amount of languages you can learn there. You can learn up to 35 languages including the more typical ones to more elaborate ones such as Estonian, Catalan, Bulgarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Urdu, Icelandic and more than one kind of Portuguese.
Face-to-Face Language Courses
Alliance Francaise Sydney
I know that some people learn better face-to-face than others, especially when it comes to languages. First and foremost, if you're considering learning French, you must consider the Alliance Francaise Sydney.
This is my number one choice for French classes, and it's not just because of the Grand Café, though that might also be an influencing factor.
If you're serious about the language, this place can certify you as a French speaker. Who else better to teach you, than those who can certify you? Plus, I've had experience with Alliance Francaise and I found the teachers to be lovely, helpful and professional. Also, don't forget that café if you're into your French food. The Alliance Francaise is located in the city, just like the next language school I will mention.
La Lingua Language School
La Lingua Language School offers more than one language and is perhaps more suited to those wishing to learn Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese or Mandarin in a face-to-face format. I still stand by the Alliance Francaise being absolutely fantastic for French, but it is offered at La Lingua.
You can actually book for a free trial lesson with La Lingua. Its city location is very convenient and they also teach different types of English – conversational, academic and for "specific purposes". This is interesting, because upon clicking that link I found a course about Realworld English for Hospitality and Tourism. This seems quite practical if you're interested in that industry.
Sydney Community College
Finally, I couldn't talk about a leisurely article where one learns a useful but fun skill without mentioning one of my favourite places – the Sydney Community College.
The sheer amount of languages taught here as well as their uniqueness astounds me. Apart from the usual French, German, Italian and Spanish, you can learn Russian, Indonesian, Korean, Cantonese, Thai, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Japanese, Arabic and even something as awesome as sign language.
Courses start at $209 but some are as much as $409. For your $409, you receive 15 sessions, so 30 hours. This works out to be just over $13 an hour. That's pretty inexpensive if I say so myself.
Whatever your learning preference, try a language – it will open your mind. You'll most likely meet loads of lovely people if you go to a face-to-face class, with the common interest of the culture whose language you'll be studying. Furthermore, with the free online options, what do you have to lose at all?
I think that the best place to learn Spanish is the Instituto Cervantes in Sydney. Is the only official Spanish language centre in Australia, they belong to the Spanish Goverment, teach all levels of Spanish. They have a fantastic library and many options. The prices are really good and all the teachers are native hispanic and professionals. They have also online courses (with or without Skype teacher)www.sydney.cervantes.es
I'd previously tried and failed to teach myself through the Internet and books. The dedicated time and teaching in live classes is infinitely more effective. I am now learning Mandarin at ACCS which I discovered through Google search - loving every minute of it! Chinese teacher is wonderful and their Accelerated Learning methods seem to work amazingly well. Their website is athttp://www.accschinese.com