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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Free French Lessons (and other languages)....ABSOLUTELY, yes, free!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Free French Lessons (and other languages)....ABSOLUTELY, yes, free!

So I've been here in the French-speaking part of Belgium for 6 MONTHS and still can't speak the French fluently...I say speak, cause I can muddle my way through something in writing and if I listen ever so closely, I can at least catch the gist of the conversation.  As soon as someone parles though....I freeze up like a deer in the headlights!  Maybe I should start drinking, because I read once that when you drink, all inhibitions go out the window and regardless of what garble comes out, at least you are trying to speak the language.  With all that in mind, I've collected some FREE French lessons from a variety of sources.  It would help if I studied every day (I do not)...and also not to compare my French to my German, which I learned as a small child and can speak fluently (Note to parents:  Start YOUNG with WHATEVER other language you speak or the grandparents is invaluable, will help their brains ....GROW and will make your children seem incredibly smart when they are adults).  Let me know if you progress faster than me, so I have someone to compare myself with.

If you or your spouse is in the Army, you know that Rosetta Stone language training online is available to you for something like 30 different languages.  You can sign in only with the active duty member's AKO account information.

If you don't have access to that or want to try something else (or in addition), try these below.  Many of these sites also have opportunities to learn other languages as well.

  • Life Mocha is the poor person's language program and site, because it tries to mimic what Rosetta Stone is trying to do.  Their very basic lessons are free.  You can also connect with other learners, and they really try to foster a sense of community.  I have fun with it every now and again still.
  • Coffee Break French is great, because you can download each lesson to your MP3 player or Ipod.  I like that the lessons are short, hence the name "coffee break".  They are already into their third season of lessons!  No need to purchase them if you don't mind clicking on each set of lessons, then on each individual lesson to download.
  • The University of Texas first year French program is online and is FREE too, regardless if you are a student or not.  You can download the individual chapters and exercises, wordlists and videos directly to your computer.  I am a third of the way through the program, and I am astounded at the quality of the materials.  I printed all the chapters, and put them in a binder.  I even make myself do some homework.  
  • This site recommended by my French teacher at the Language Center on SHAPE has been a big help, especially in my listening skills.  It is very interactive and allows you to take a test as well.  Try it out!
  • "My" French Language Course on Wikimedia Commons is just as good as any other French learning coursebook.  It's a PDF file, and you can download it for free.....all 222 pages of it!
  • Your local library also has DVDs and may even have old cassette tapes lying around.  Ours here in SHAPE must have at least 15 different French programs to choose from.  While I am using the program, I download the lessons to my computer and MP3 player for ease of us.  A few of the programs I noticed cost hundreds of dollars online, so it's worth it to check them out.  If your local library does not have the resources, you can try inter-library loan (ILL).  Almost all libraries do this now...just get the CDs or DVDs from another library:-)
 As a sidenote, in addition to the language courses on SHAPE, which cost about 100 euro for newcomers (in the first 6 months after arrival), you can also check your local Belgian commune, where night courses cost about 50 euro for learning French.  

You know, I bet there are many more sites out there...hidden under all the outward fluff.  We just have to find them!  If anyone has come across any free language sites, please post them here for all to enjoy!

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Anonymous jessica said...

I also found this one at the university, I hope to enroll in it!

January 23, 2011 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that the best way to learn French or any new language is to completely immerse yourself in the language and culture but since most of us can't afford to live in another country for awhile, the second best is Rosetta Stone.

At least Rosetta Stone's format is designed to try to simulate that immersion experience.

It's not exactly "free," but I got Rosetta from a college that is offering a few slots through their online Rosetta e-classroom for $48 ( the website is ) which provides access to all of the languages and all the levels Rosetta Stone offers. The school also offers special funding for training for active duty military spouses thru the MyCAA program.

The real trick to the program is to stick with it. It's an enjoyable program to use so it means there's a greater likelihood of staying with this one. At least since this is an online classroom I can practice from both home and work.

I also think it's helpful to check out some CDs from your local library to help you get more voices in your ears than just the Rosetta Stone audio program.

January 24, 2011 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

Hi! Do you know if the Rosetta Stone for the military is available for the Air Force? When we PCS my husband will get an AKO account. I have checked with the library on post, they have about 4 copies of German, but they are all checked out. Upon calling to check on my place in line, they said that people aren't returning them! I told them I would call the customers, but of course the answer was no! :) They said they would not be buying anymore of RS.
Just curious! Thanks.

January 24, 2011 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I was told that only the Army had a contract with them, hence that Rosetta Stone Army website and not an AF one...BUT, I did have an AF spouse tell me yesterday that at her last duty station in DC, she was able to get access for a year (or rather her DH) maybe this is another way to get it? I would appreciate too any AF or other services' members posting if they indeed have it too. That would be great:-)

January 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Luba said...

Another program that is free, one that I like better then Rosetta stone (In my opinion of course) is a program call Byki. It is available free for about any language out there!

January 24, 2011 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One resource that I found to be invaluable is the British BBC's 'Ma France':

January 31, 2011 at 7:18 PM  

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