Free FSI Foreign Lanuage Courses

If you’re looking for a full course to get started with in learning a language, you might be able to find what you’re looking for in the FSI language courses. The language courses were made by the Foreign Service Institute in the United States, and are now in the public domain. A few people at have taken on the mammoth task of gathering and digitizing all of this material.

Quite a few of the courses on the site are complete, i.e. all lessons and books are there. A few are complete are German, Spanish, and French.

I’ve personally used the German FSI course some, and have mixed feelings on it. First of all, I’ll say this: it’s very thorough and very effective. If you were to work through the entire course and master all of the content, you’d have a solid foundation in the language. The problem is that, since the courses were made for government employees and not someone who just takes it upon themselves to learn a language, no real effort is made to make the content interesting. Indeed, much of the audio is drillwork. Is it effective? Certainly. Can it be maddeningly boring, particularly when some of the drills revolve around diplomatic relations, embassies, etc.? Absolutely.

However, if you’re willing to slog through the drills, I think for most people, it will pay off. There’s a lot of grammar in these courses, and a lot of vocabulary. To give you an idea of what really makes up the courses, here’s a bit of the Foreward for the French course:

Planned in two volumes, French Basic Course (Revised) has been designed to help students reach a level of proficiency which will enable them to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations. …

For beginning students, the twenty-four units are designed for a six-month intensive training program of six hours of class per day, plus outside preparation. Each unit presents a situational topic introduced in a dialogue, and usually five grammar points. Each grammar point is preceded by grammar notes which generally are expressed in non-technical terms.

Of course, this program won’t be for everyone. Like I said, some of the drills can be pretty dull. But, with some perseverence, and perhaps some supplement material to break up the monotony, these courses could serve as an excellent foundation learning resource.

By |2007-06-07T14:05:32+00:00June 7th, 2007|Language Learning, Resources|2 Comments


  1. Raymond Blakney April 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I just thought you may want to know that the old FSI website has been down for the last few months. But you can find all the free public domain material on:

    I hope this helps.

    • Josh April 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the heads up, Raymond. Apparently, the original FSI site is back up (for the time being, anyway). I’ll be posting about this soon.

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