Resources for learning foreign languages: Foreign Service Institute and Defense Language Institute courses

Linguists frequently get asked about resources for learning foreign languages.  In a recent post, I talked about what to use if you just want to get some basic skills in a language before a trip to someplace where that language is spoken.  In this post, I’ll point you towards the best resources that I know of for getting in-depth knowledge of a language.

As far as I know, the two best producers of foreign language instructional materials are the US Foreign Service and the US military’s Defense Language Institute.  Happily, they make many of their materials available for free on the Web.  Typically, you can download the textbook for a course as a PDF, and the audio materials as mp3 files.

These courses will require serious dedication on your part.  They have written and audio components, and you will need to do both.  However, they are well worth the effort.  These courses will give you in-depth knowledge of the language, as well as reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension skills.

You can find a listing of Foreign Service Institute courses at the following link.  There’s everything from Amharic to Yoruba–pretty impressive:

You can find a listing of Defense Language Institute courses at the following link.  Albanian to Vietnamese!

There are a ton of other materials available through the Defense Language Institute web site.  Poke around at this link and you’re likely to find something of interest:

2 thoughts on “Resources for learning foreign languages: Foreign Service Institute and Defense Language Institute courses”

  1. I wasn’t aware of these resources – thanks, will keep in mind when I get queries. And yes, what many would-be language learners don’t always factor in is the “serious dedication” they’re going to need!

    Liked by 1 person

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