8 Free English Language Resources For Latin-American Immigrants
One of the most common migration patterns in the world is Latin American individuals and families moving north to the US. Whether due to the current political climate in their home country, lack of employment opportunities, or just seeking a better life, over 300,000 Latinos resettle to the US each year.
However, of these more than 300,000 individuals, less than 70,000 possess basic English proficiency. This means that over 230,000 newly arrived immigrants can’t speak America’s most widely-spoken language. Perhaps most importantly for those immigrants seeking good-paying work, most jobs require some level of English fluency.
As a result, many Latino immigrants to the US are quick to seek out English language resources, particularly affordable ones. Additionally, with many newly arrived Latino immigrants living below the poverty line, free resources are vital to allowing this segment of individuals to learn English without a crushing financial burden.
In this guide, we discuss 8 free and effective resources for Latin-American immigrants living in the United States to learn English.
One of the most common and popular means of learning English is watching American TV. With most local broadcast channels, such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, being totally free via antenna, television is an excellent means of getting the English language delivered straight to your living room.
Soap operas, which typically air during the day, are especially effective for English learners. Their melodramatic scenes, with expressive reactions and high emotions are great for conveying contextual language.
In addition, children’s shows on PBS (another free channel), can be particularly effective. Though you may feel silly as an adult watching a children’s show, know that this practice really works. Studies have shown that children’s shows are more effective than most adult programs for learning a new language.
Language Learning Apps
Language learning apps have taken on increased prominence in the language learning space. Dozens of companies have popped up over the last few years, which each leverage smart tech and cool digital features to teach you a new language, including English.
Though many of the programs do cost, some of the best language learning apps offer free versions, as well as extended free trials. These apps offer an excellent means of building vocabulary with memory aids, as well as establishing basic grammar principles.
The language programs are generally very good at building on themselves, starting with the most basic concepts and working up to the more complex aspects of the English language.
If there is one downside to these language apps, the free versions are ad-supported. So you will have to deal with pop-ups and sidebar digital ads while using these apps. However, the benefits seem to outweigh the cons, and language apps can be a highly effective free resource.
Like children’s shows on television, children’s books can be a constructive means of learning English. The vocabulary used in these books is generally very basic, being designed for absorption by young kids. Rarely will you encounter a word longer than two or three syllables.
In addition, most of the language is in the present tense, which is the first tense generally taught in terms of verb conjugation. Statements like “the dog runs” and “she is hungry” are typical.
Though some may scoff at these books for fear of looking foolish reading them as adults, they can be fruitful. The images in these books are great for visual leaners, and stories make learning a language easier.
Many such books can be rented from the local library for free, or even found for free on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Alternatively, though not free (but cheap), such children’s books can be found on super sale at thrift stores and garage sales.
One of the absolute best resources for free English language content is YouTube. There are dozens of channels on YouTube that specialize in creating videos around learning English.
These quick-hit videos are great about covering basic grammar, as well as teaching vocabulary with catchy visuals and short clips. Though you do sometimes have to be a little weary of the quality of these videos, by and large, they are excellent resources.
One of my personal favorite channels on YouTube for this purpose is BBC Learning English. This channel from the BBC has 4 million subscribers and regularly adds high-quality videos that offer practical and actionable learnings. You might find yourself with a slight British accent, but the content is top-notch.
Similar to YouTube, podcasts are an incredible resource for learning to speak English. There are dozens of podcasts with literally hundreds upon hundreds of episodes.
Given this massive amount of content, many episodes dive into niche topics to build your vocabulary, including coverage of rainforest animals, American college football, and Texas barbecue.
Similar to YouTube, however, you do have to be weary of the quality of some podcasts. I would suggest finding one that fits your learning style and personality, and stick with it. In my opinion, the consistency and routine of sticking with the same podcast (or two) can have benefits overjumping around sporadically.
Many episodes build on themselves like a series, and can be a great learning tool. My personal favorite is Espresso English. With episodes that only last 5 to 10 minutes and cover many typical problems English learners face in the US, it’s perfect for beginners.
With dozens of language learning blogs on the internet, these tools offer a plethora of English language resources for learners. Sites just like EnglishClub offer everything from useful learning hacks, to TOEFL exam prep, to general support. Some even contain embedded videos and audio lessons.
Perhaps the most useful feature of any blog though is their ability to connect learners. Many blogs serve as a forum, where English learners can connect, share stories, and get tips from each other.
Oftentimes, one of the most frustrating parts of learning to speak English is the isolation. Blogs provide a sense of community and common goal that can really help to boost learning and motivation.
Adult Education Classes
Though a bit of an old school, dated approach, adult learning classes still have relevance. Many states, including California (with America’s largest Latin population), provide public funding for English classes.
Conducted through local school districts with night classes, English learners meet regularly to learn from an experienced teacher. These classes start with the absolute basics and progress all the way up to the advanced level.
Typically a more robust learning framework with textbooks and assigned homework, these classes are not for the faint of heart. You must be able to commit to regular live class meetings and manage workloads. However, though old school in many ways, these adult classes are highly effective.
The best part is that because of state subsidies, most of these adult classes are totally free to attendees.
The final free resource on our list is the good old public radio. Though many DJ’s that run music radio stations speak quickly while on air, the music on FM channels is great for learning English.
Moreover, talk radio on AM channels is great as well. Studies have shown that letting quiet talk radio play at night while sleeping allows your subconscious to absorb the target language.
By allowing NPR or another talk radio station to drone in the background as white noise while you sleep, you can allow your subconscious to do some of the heavy lifting. This method generally shouldn’t be used in and of itself to learn, but when combined with other resources, can be fruitful.
In sum, there are many free English language resources available to Latino immigrants to the United States. From YouTube videos, to adult night classes, to free language learning apps, there are a multitude of options to help you learn – all for free. Ideally, you should use a combination of tools and features to help you learn, never relying too much on one resource. By utilizing multiple resources, you will learn more quickly and have a more well-rounded English knowledge base.