The purpose of learning a language is to communicate with humans. Not textbooks, not computers, humans. Don’t get so caught up in your computer and textbooks lessons that you forget about practicing in the world of the living. So this is where you ask me a very important question: But Sable, why would someone help me learn a language when I can’t afford to pay them?
#1: Through a Language Exchange
On one hand, speakers of your target language have something you want: practice in the target language. On the other hand, you have something some speakers of your target language want: practice in your language. So you can spend a half hour talking with them in your language and a half hour talking in your language. Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Now you just have to find those people. Craigslist is one option, though Craigslist has its own set of risks. I suggest talking to ESL schools or universities that have large international populations.
#2: By Volunteering
Let’s say you can’t find someone who wants to learn your language (though I highly doubt there’s no one). There’s something else you can give someone in exchange for help with your target language: your time. You can volunteer at a nursery home or for someone who is blind. By reading in your target language (their native language), you can receive their help in pronunciation. It’s a win-win situation. I used to practice my Spanish by using Spanish to teach a math course for the GED. I helped others learn the math needed for the GED test and, in exchange, my students corrected my pronunciation and guided my use of grammar.
#3: By Joining a Language Group
You’re not alone in seeking out ways to practice your language. People create groups for language practice all the time. You can find these groups through your local library, local community centers and churches, and Meetup.com. Meetup.com is a great resource for finding groups in your area or even starting your own. The best part about Meetup.com is that the people who join this site are also looking for new friends. It’s easier to find a place for yourself in a group of people who are just getting to know each other than in a group of people that has been established for a while.