If you’re looking to learn a new language, you can use the same study materials given to American Peace Corps volunteers in over a hundred countries throughout the world. Every year, the Peace Corps sends out thousands of volunteers to help improve struggling communities. They promote health in Botswana, teach English in Columbia, develop agricultural programs in Nepal, and serve in a variety of other capacities.
Many Peace Corps participants volunteer without speaking the language of their assigned countries. Peace Corps designed training materials have been developed to help them gain an initial functional vocabulary and develop fluency during their service.
Many of the language lessons developed for Peace Corps volunteers are now available on the web at no cost to the general public. Take a look at how you can use these resources for learning a language on your own or supplementing your formal instruction.
Live Lingua Peace Corps Archive
The online language school Live Lingua is putting together an extensive archive of current and older Peace Corps language learning materials. Click on the name of any language and scroll down to view materials such as scanned textbooks, audio lessons, and more.
The archive now features resources for over a hundred language including Arabic, Mongolian, Nepali, Romanian, Fijian, and Kreol. One of the advantages to Peace Corps materials is that they focus on a number of lesser-known languages – it can be a challenge to find other quality training materials for many of the languages that are represented in this archive.
The school itself was founded by a returned Peace Corps volunteer and other returned volunteers are encouraged to send in any resources they would like added to the archive by emailing: email@example.com.
Peace Corps World Wise Schools
Peace Corps World Wise Schools website is a resource for K-12 teachers looking to integrate Peace Corps ideas and information into their curriculum. The site features a searchable database with lesson plans on several languages and cultural issues.
World Wise Schools also provides podcast language lessons for a number of more common languages that can be downloaded and listened to on your mp3 player, in your car, or wherever your day may take you.
Peace Corps Digital Library
Through the Peace Corps Digital Library, users can access thousands of volunteer-related documents. Their Technical and Training Materials page, in particular, has many texts that may be of help to the aspiring language learner.
Some guides, such as Teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language, are provided to help teachers (including those that cannot speak their students’ language) create language lesson plans and respond effectively to their students.
Several publications focus on specialized vocabularies (agriculture, environment, etc.) in other languages. There are also a number of publications dedicated to helping readers acclimate and respond appropriately to other cultures, such as the Peace Corps Cross Cultural Workbook.
Other Language Learning Resources
In addition to the Peace Corps training materials listed in this article, there are a variety of other free online resources for potential language learners. Take a look at these lists of no-cost Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Japanese courses and materials.
You may also be interested in OpenCourseWare language classes – materials provided from top university courses free of cost to anyone that wants to study independently.
Whether you want to learn by listening to podcasts, reviewing textbooks, or completing interactive exercise, there are now thousands of high-quality language learning resources available online.
The Real Deal
While the Peace Corps provides many free resources to self-starting online learners, nothing can beat the real deal. If you’re willing to volunteer two years of your life to Peace Corps service, you will likely be given the opportunity to learn a new language through direct training and continuing instruction from a local guide. You’ll also get the chance to put those language skills to use through living, working, and serving alongside native speakers every day. To learn more about language learning and volunteer opportunities, take a look at the Peace Corps website.