5 Ways to learn a new language (and 5 reasons why you should)

There are a number of reasons why journalists should speak more than one language, perhaps most important of which is to be able to speak to sources in their native tongue. Plus, in the current era of mass layoffs it wouldn’t hurt to put “bilingual” on your resume. There are many language courses offered on the web, but the following teach the language the multimedia way and they are all free.

1. Babbel

Babbel has taken the new media route for learning either English Spanish, French, German and Italian. The site’s quizzes that incorparate text, audio and visual cues to encourage learning by association rather than rote memory. Users can also upload their own images of the vocabulary words or import them from Flickr.

2. BBC

The BBC’s Languages site offers an impressive variety of tools for learning French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Chinese. You can watch online videos, hear audio clips, play crosswords in several languages, get tips from other language learners and, just in time for the Olympics, learn Chinese Olympic phrases.

3. Learnit lists

Learnit’s widgets are a compact way of learning a new language. Users pick from more than 20 languages and are given 10 words a day to learn through repetition. The widgets can be embedded anywhere, including web sites and social networking pages like MySpace and Facebook.

4. iTunes

A quick visit to iTunes reveals that there are a gajillion podcasts for learning every language under the sun. That means you can learn Japanese while going for a jog or French while going for a ride in the car. iPhone users can also download language learning applications from the iTunes store.

5. Lingus.tv

One of the most common and effective recommendations for learning Spanish is to watch telenovelas. Lingus.tv brings the fun and immersion of telenovelas online with its transcribed sitcoms. The effect is like watching Telemundo with subtitles.

It goes without saying that English is not the only language in the blogosphere. Here are some great multimedia journalism blogs that are worth learning a new language for.

1. Sicrono


2. O Lago | The Lake


3. Tiago Dória Weblog


4. De Repente


5. 233grados.com


You can find even more non-English and/or non-US multimedia and online journalism blogs in the blogroll to your left, along with some of the best journalism and tech blogs on the web.