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Foreign Language Learning

Types of Language Learning Resources

This guide is designed to help you think creatively about language learning resources. International and Area Studies Librarians are happy to help you explore a comprehensive set of resources by language. Be in touch!

Language Learning Platforms (free to Duke Users)

  • Transparent Language Online 
    After clicking the database title, you can enter as guest to browse, or you can create an account to keep track of your progress learning the selected language.

Duke Streaming Video (free to Duke Users)


Start with the Ebooks search at Duke eBooks (free to Duke users):

  • Overdrive - use the advanced search to limit results to your desired language

Find free audiobooks for fiction in a foreign language; these are mostly novels in the public domain, published before 1924:

Contact an IAS Subject Librarian for resources in your language.

Online and Print Dictionaries

Many recognizable brands (Collins, Oxford, Duden, Grand Robert) have free Internet sites, including Apps – in addition to the subscriptions to online dictionaries we have at Duke Libraries. Duke Libraries subscribe to dictionaries for every purpose (current use, etymology, historical dictionary, etc.); contact an IAS librarian for more information.

Here are a few examples of popular, free online dictionaries

Duke Libary guides are a good starting point for finding dictionaries, and the guides include contact information for specialist librarians:

An effective search string in the Duke Catalog is (use the language you need with this pattern):

  • Italian language -- Dictionaries -- English
  • English language -- Dictionaries -- Italian

Language Learning Apps

Most Apps for language learning have a free component and a subscription component; personal subscriptions cost between 5 and 15 dollars a month. There are many language learning Apps, and the Libraries are not endorsing a specific App; we suggest you search for reviews of Apps in connection with the language you are learning.

  • DuoLingo: offers courses in over 40 languages.
  • Memrise: a British language learning platform with courses in 20 languages.
  • ScribeZone: instructional tool developed by NSA that teaches language through transcription for multi-language and civilian use; it improves listening and transcription skills, grammatical knowledge, and reading skills through exercises built around authentic materials from a range of media sources. Includes multiple modules (a total of 76 activities) for the following 13 languages: Bosnian, Chinese, Croatian, Kazakh, Montenegrin, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, Uyghur, Ukrainian, and Uzbek. 
  • AnkiApp:  users can access community-built decks of flashcards. Anki can be used for anything, but it is very popular for the Japanese language-learning community. Example:

Find (free to Duke users) reviews of language learning Apps in the Duke All search.

Tranlators with Apps

  • DeepL offers machine translation for over 30 languages. The free version has a limit 1500 characters per translation.

  • Google Lens Search What You See: an App for your phone; point your phone at a sign, and get a translation!

Slow News and Podcasts

"Slow News" is a techinal term for a resource; when you combine that term with a language or a country (slow news Germany) in an Internet search, you will find relevant sites.

The sites let you pick your language level and offer current topics in culture and politics.


International news aggregators like Nexis Uni and Factive provide foreign news in plain text; this allows you to copy/paste plain text into a translator like DeepL translator.

TV and Radio Stations Abroad (with Open Content)

IAS librarians are avid consumers of TV and Radio in the countries and languages they  work with. The media landscape is complex, but we will be happy to make recommendations. TV stations offer a mix of free content, and content only available in the country, still there is a significant amount of free content on every site.

Examples for French

Examples for German

Open or Creative Resources for Language Learning

International and Area Studies Librarians are experts in identifying Open Educational Resources and Open Access content from the regions and languages they specialize in. Here are some examples to illustrate. Contact us!

  • Russian Language and Culture Through Cartoons – clips, vocabulary, transcript, and comprehension questions for selected Soviet and Russian productions - essential viewing for all students hoping to fully understand Russian culture.

  • Russian Language and Culture Through Film: integrates film clips, full transcript, embedded dictionary, and live, online exercises to teach language and culture to advanced-level students.

  • Polish Culture and Language Through Film: multimedia Polish language and culture materials designed to test and expand intermediate and advanced students’ knowledge through famous Polish films. Each movie clip is accompanied by a transcript, extensive glossary, and computer-generated listening comprehension questions. The project includes clips and tasks from eight films spanning the Communist period and post-1989 cinema. 

  • Learn Turkish via a Graphic Novel! — Ralph Jaeckel and Mehmet Süreyya Er:

  • Check out Modern Standard Arabic Readers

  • Check out Persian Grammar and Resources

  • Read Ganjoor, Persian Poetry

Search Open Educational Resources Portals for language learning resources, like easy readers:

Dual Language Books

Search the Duke Catalog with the following keywords, then look on the left hand menu for results by language

  • parallel text
  • dual language books
  • bilingual book

Duke Libraries does not collect dual language editions comprehensively, contact an IAS librarian for identifying and requesting dual language books.

Conversation Partner Platforms

Find platforms that connect you with a live tutor or conversation partner in the country/language you are studying.

Barbara Alvarez at the University of Michigan Library researches and evaluates Conversation Partner Platforms. Users should investigate reviews before signing up for these  “for fee” tutoring  services. Here are the names of a few platforms to help you find reviews:

  • Talk Abroad (DBB)
  • LinguaMeeting
  • Conversations Unbound
  • Boomalang
  • Blended: Open Conversation and Tutorial
  • Italki
  • Tandem Language Exchange

English Language Learning

Duke Resources for English Language Learning at the Thompson Writing Program website.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries online at Duke.