Free online language courses available to students

Zoë Howard

Eighteen different early Indo-European language lessons, ranging from Albanian to Sanskrit, are available to UT students free of charge.

The lessons are designed collaboratively by members of UT’s Linguistics Research Center and were first uploaded for student use in the early 2000s. They continue to be revised and edited today, receiving new features periodically. 

The classes vary in length and difficulty levels and are not eligible for course credit. Anyone can access the lessons on the center’s website without having to register.

Todd Krause, Linguistics Research Center research associate, said the courses are important because they offer students the opportunity to learn languages they otherwise might not encounter.

“Some of these languages are rarely represented in academic curricula, so introductions can be difficult to come by,” Krause said. “The Language Research Center’s resources help provide a point of entry that may not exist otherwise.”  

French sophomore Nina Hunt said the lessons are a great opportunity to explore unique languages without fully committing to pursuing them.

“Because I’m a French major, a lot of my classes revolve around French, so I don’t have a lot of room in my schedule for other language classes,” Hunt said. “These courses would allow me to explore other languages without having to enroll in additional classes.”

Classical studies freshman Elena Navarre said the courses supplement what she is already learning for her major.

“As a classics major, I’m expected to learn or at least be familiar with several different languages,” Navarre said. “The Latin and Greek courses would really help strengthen my language skills, especially when I’m trying to learn so many.”

Although the courses were compiled for UT students, Krause said they are open to any interested language-learners.

Krause said some users have even contributed their own knowledge to the lessons and suggested revisions to the department. He said the lessons can also enable users to get in touch with their cultural linguistic heritage.  

The Center hopes to make a greater impact than just exposing students to lesser-known languages, Krause said.

“The collection as a whole hopes to provide to as wide an audience as possible a sense of shared heritage that might help to promote a sense of mutual understanding across language, culture, ideology, philosophy and national origin,” Krause said. “Clearly, we have a long way to go to cast this net as broadly as possible, but we’ve already made a start.”