Up until a few years ago, language classes cost hundreds of dollars, and came on CDs or DVDs. But now you can now learn English, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Korean, and other languages — from top universities online, for free.

There are a ton of language learning apps out there, but these Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) go one step further: they teach you language in the context of history and business culture.

To get a sense of what I’m talking about, take a look at the intro video for edX’s Mandarin Chinese for Business course:

At Class Central, we’ve curated a collection of 30+ MOOCs that teach a variety of languages.

I recommend edX’s Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People and FutureLearn’s Introduction to Dutch. Both these courses are highly rated and, and made our list of the Top 50 MOOCs of all time.

Note that some of these courses are self-paced, and others operate on a fixed schedule. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to participate in the current session — another one will probably start in a few months.

Learning Chinese

Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People
Tsinghua University via edX
This introductory Chinese language course will emphasize basic language skills for everyday life in Mandarin speaking countries. Self-paced.

Mandarin Chinese for Business
Learn common Mandarin Chinese business phrases and understand Chinese culture so you can communicate professionally in the largest market in the World. Started August 22nd.

Chinese for Beginners
Peking University via Coursera
This is an ABC Chinese course for beginners, including introduction of phonetics and daily expressions. After taking this class, learners can have a basic understanding of Chinese Mandarin and make basic conversations of daily living. Started August 24th.

More Chinese for Beginners
Peking University via Coursera
Learners will expand vocabularies about personal information, daily life, food and drink, healthy, and expressions about greeting, suggestion, agreement, comparison, complaint, prohibition, experience, plan, recommendation, etc. Starts August 29th.



AP Spanish Language and Culture
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School via edX
Perfect your Spanish speaking and writing skills while learning about the cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world to prepare for the AP* Spanish Language and Culture exam. Self-paced.

Spanish for Beginners 1: Meeting and Greeting
The Open University via FutureLearn
Learn how to greet people, and talk about where you live and what you do in the first of six Spanish for Beginners courses. Starts August 8th.

Spanish for Beginners 2: People and Places
The Open University via FutureLearn
Learn how to describe people and what they wear, and talk about your family and home in the second Spanish for Beginners course. Starts September 12th.

Spanish for Beginners 3: My Life
The Open University via FutureLearn
Learn to talk about daily life, what you do during the day and when things happen in the third Spanish for Beginners course. Starts October 17th.

Spanish for Beginners
Universidad a Distancia de Madrid via iversity
Want to speak Spanish? This course will teach you Spanish with video sequences that use real situations in a variety of contexts. Learn the basics for understanding and communicating in both a practical and fun way. Self paced.

Learn Spanish: Basic Spanish for English Speakers
Universitat Politècnica de València via edX
Learn Spanish and explore Spanish culture in this introductory language course, designed for English speakers. Self paced.


Conversational English Skills
Tsinghua University via edX
Learn how to effectively communicate in English and improve your conversational language skills. Self-paced.

English for Doing Business in Asia — Speaking
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via edX
Introducing strategies for developing your spoken English communication skills in the context of doing business in Asia. Starts September 13th.

Exploring English: Language and Culture
British Council via FutureLearn
This course for learners of English looks at British culture and examines English in use to help you improve your language skills. Starts September 12th.


First Step Korean
Yonsei University via Coursera
This is an elementary-level Korean language course, consisting of 5 lessons with 4 units, and covers 4 skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Starts August 22nd.

Learn to Speak Korean 1
Yonsei University via Coursera
This course is for beginner students who are familiar with the Korean alphabet, Hangeul. Through this course students will learn the skills essential for daily interactions with Koreans while living in Korea. Starts September 5th.



Introduction to Italian
Università per Stranieri di Siena via FutureLearn
Learn basic Italian and explore Italian culture, with this free online Italian course. Starts October 17th.

Italian1x: Italian Language and Culture: Beginner
Wellesley College via edX
Learn the basics of the Italian language and culture through videos, podcasts, interviews, and much more. Self paced.

Italian2x: Italian Language and Culture: Intermediate
Wellesley College via edX
Improve your Italian language skills and expand your vocabulary while you learn about Italian art, literature and contemporary society. Self paced.

Italian3x: Italian Language and Culture: Advanced
Wellesley College via edX
Enhance your knowledge of the Italian language and learn about Italy’s culture and history including theater, opera and the poet Dante. Self paced.

Italian for Beginners 1: Meeting, Greeting and Eating
The Open University via FutureLearn
Learn how to order food and drink, greet people, and introduce yourself, in this first Italian for Beginners course. Starts September 5th.

Italian for Beginners 2: My Friends and Family
The Open University via FutureLearn
Learn how to introduce people, exchange information about them and talk about your family. Starts October 10th.

Italian for Beginners 3: My Daily Life
The Open University via FutureLearn
In the third Italian for Beginners course, learn how to talk about your daily life and your leisure activities. Starts November 14th.


Introduction to Dutch
University of Groningen via FutureLearn
Learn to speak, write and understand basic Dutch, with this free, three-week, introductory foreign language course. Starts August 15th.

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