Learn to Speak 48 Languages for Free: Everything from Arabic to Indonesian to Yiddish on One Page

Even by the stan­dards of Unit­ed States Pres­i­dents, Barack Oba­ma has led a pret­ty unusu­al life. His ear­ly expe­ri­ences includ­ed a child­hood plunge into inter­na­tion­al­ism in the form of not just his Kenyan father but his Indone­sian step­fa­ther, to whose home­land the fam­i­ly moved when Oba­ma was six years old. For the next four years, the young future Com­man­der in Chief attend­ed local schools in Jakar­ta, and the lan­guage he picked up then has stuck with him today. It cer­tain­ly served him well when he returned to Indone­sia as Pres­i­dent to give the speech above, in which he talks about his love for that coun­try and his belief in its impor­tance to the future, speak­ing bits and pieces in Indone­sian through­out — and draw­ing great applause each time.

If you want to be like Bar­ry and meet with a sim­i­lar­ly rap­tur­ous recep­tion when next you give a pub­lic address in the Emer­ald of the Equa­tor, start by learn­ing the basics of the Indone­sian lan­guage at our Free For­eign Lan­guage Lessons page. There, you’ll find a wealth of pod­casts like Learn­ing Indone­sian (iTunes), Indonesianpod101 (iTunes), and Indone­sian Sur­vival Phras­es (iTunes). [Advanced learn­ers might pre­fer tun­ing in to news-in-Indone­sian pod­casts from SBS (iTunes) and NHK World (iTunes) radio.] Indonesianpod101 even has a Youtube page with video lessons like the one just above.

Even if you don’t plan on becom­ing Pres­i­dent, you may still have plen­ty of rea­sons to learn Indone­sian. With its famil­iar alpha­bet and sim­ple gram­mar with­out tens­es, gen­der forms, noun cas­es, and the like, it ranks as one of the very eas­i­est lan­guages in which to attain flu­en­cy. I know an Amer­i­can col­lege pro­fes­sor in South Korea who con­stant­ly urges his stu­dents to study Indone­sian, since it offers the “gold­en tip” of a wedge into the rest of Asia: mas­ter it, and you’ll have built up momen­tum to learn the oth­er, more com­pli­cat­ed lan­guages of the region, from Man­darin to Can­tonese to Japan­ese and beyond — all of which you can also begin study­ing at, of course, our Free Lan­guage Lessons page.

If your lin­guis­tic inter­ests slant toward Europe rather than Asia, don’t wor­ry, we’ve still got your back: our lists include learn­ing resources for lan­guages of that con­ti­nent as major as Span­ish, French, Ital­ian, Russ­ian, Eng­lish, and Ger­man to niche lan­guages like Cata­lan, Finnish, Hun­gar­i­an, and Ser­bo-Croa­t­ian. If you notice we’ve missed any lan­guage you’ve har­bored a burn­ing desire to learn, drop us a line so we can start gath­er­ing pod­casts, videos, and PDFs on it. In the mean­time, sure­ly the Free Lan­guage Lessons page offers you some­thing to start on and get that incom­pa­ra­ble feel­ing of break­ing into a new lan­guage for the first time. Semoga berun­tung, as we say in Jakar­ta!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Learn 48 Lan­guages Online for Free: Span­ish, Chi­nese, Eng­lish & More

Study 40+ Lan­guages with Free Lessons from the U.S. For­eign Ser­vice Insti­tute

Let’s Learn Japan­ese: Two Clas­sic Video Series to Get You Start­ed in the Lan­guage

Learn Latin, Old Eng­lish, San­skrit, Clas­si­cal Greek & Oth­er Ancient Lan­guages in 10 Lessons

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (3)
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  • Bill Chapman says:

    My view is that learn­ing any lan­guage is worth doing, although life is sim­ply too short to learn them all. We need to ask our­selves which lan­guage we are teach­ing and why. Will it be French, or Ger­man or Span­ish in Welsh schools – or none of them? Learn Man­darin, and you’re tongue –tied in Japan. Learn Por­tuguese and you can’t even ask for a loaf of bread in Ger­many. Learn Ara­bic and you are reduced to mim­ing in Rus­sia. The obvi­ous solu­tion would be to make wider use of Esperan­to, which is well-estab­lished as a good intro­duc­tion to learn­ing lan­guages.

    About 90,000 peo­ple have signed on for the new (beta) Duolin­go Esperan­to course in its first few weeks.

  • Kenny Croyer says:

    For learn­ing the basic words and most com­mon­ly used phras­es in Man­darin, French, Ara­bic, Japan­ese or even Kore­an, try out the Lock­er series on the Android plat­form.

    Down­load them all, HSK Lock­er (Chi­nese), French Lock­er, Ara­bic Lock­er, JLPT Locker(Japanese) and TOPIK Lock­er (Korean)at Google Play Store today.

  • Rivka Fisher says:

    Dear sir
    I’m learn­ing Russ­ian with Dalar­naU­ni­ver­si­ty. The lessons are very good, but there is a thec­ni­cal prob­lem, which makes the learn­ing almost impos­si­ble: The lessons are writ­ten on a very dark gray back­ground, which makes the read­ing all­most impossible.How can I reach the Uni­ver­si­ty, and tell them about the prob­lem’ which is prob­a­bly not only my/
    Riv­ka Fish­er

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