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Foreign Language Learning: Getting Started

Language Learning Communities
Another large online language learning community.

Word Reference Language Forums
Very active language discussion forums where native speakers respond to language learners' questions.
Online community for learning many different languages.

Language learning community and marketplace.

Conversation Exchange
Three types of language exchange: face-to-face conversation, correspondence, and text and voice chat.


Welcome to the Duke University Libraries' Foreign Language Learning guide!  This guide offers a selection of resources for language learners at all levels.  It emphasizes online material, and includes lessons, language tools, and links to sources for authentic written and spoken language. 

This "Getting Started" page contains resources relevant to many languages.  Language-specific resources can be found via the alphabetical tabs at the top of the page.

This guide is a work in progress; if you have any comments, suggestions, or requests about resources to add or additional languages to cover, please contact us!

(Special thanks to Jacob Vaccaro, graduate student at UNC-SILS, for his contributions to this guide as part of his field experience work with the Duke Libraries, 2010-2011.)

Software Resources

  • Transparent language online (Duke Only): An online language instruction resource. This new subscription to Byki Online gives users free access to flash cards, blogs, and other tools to help you learn or revisit more than 70 languages.  New users must create an account on the Byki log-in page, with a username and password, to gain access.

    Customs, Culture and Etiquette

    Kwintessential Country Profiles
    A guide to the culture and customs of countries around the world.

    U.S. State Department provides Background Notes and travel information.  These reports include facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, and foreign relations of specific countries.

    The Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service publishes and updates Country Commercial Guides.  These free guides are intended for use by U.S. companies doing business in a particular country.

    Grammar Guides and Language Lessons

    BBC Languages
    Audio and video courses for a variety of languages, and basic information on many more.

    iTunes U Language Courses
    Free audio language lessons (requires iTunes).

    Foreign Service Institute Language Courses
    Public domain language courses produced by the U.S. State Department. Covers many less common languages; many of the texts are several decades old.

    Forvo: The Pronunciation Guide
    Web resource featuring native speaker pronunciations of words from over 200 languages. 

    Pimsleur Language Programs
    Audio courses available at Duke University Libraries. Pimsleur also offers vocab lists, quizzes, articles, resources, to supplement your language program.

    Learn a Language
    Created by the U.S. Institute of Languages; provides free resources for learning Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, French, Japanese, Chinese, and ESL.

    Digital Dialects
    Free interactive games for learning a wide variety of languages.

    Your Librarian

    Greta Boers's picture
    Greta Boers
    Lilly Library 108

    Box 90725

    T: 919-660-5864

    F: 919-660-5999

    International Radio


    All the words in the world pronounced.

    How do you pronounce?
    Audio pronunciation and videos of real people in real situations speaking and using the word in context.