January 19, 2009

Update: New site for free FSI language courses

I've written before the excellent FSI-language-courses.com, which distributes user-digitized pdf and mp3 files of public domain Foreign Service Institute language courses. For whatever reason, the man behind the original site hasn't been active on it for several months.

Since the site exists on user contributions, though, folks have continued to digitize FSI course materials in the meantime.

But being unable to upload the new stuff to the original site, a spinoff site with a slightly different look and a larger collection of digitized language materials has opened its doors:


Note that the address is .org -- the new site includes all the materials from the original one, plus all the new material digitized since that site stopped updating. This includes all the new materials for Southeast Asian languages that I wrote about in November. (Some of the links in that post are now defunct.)

Finally, a word to the wise: Since FSI materials are in the public domain, third parties are free to repackage and resell them, usually at absurd prices. Prior to the internet, this was actually a useful service, since FSI courses can sometimes be hard to track down.

Nowadays distribution is no problem, and the number of opportunistic sites selling FSI materials has increased. This is still legal, but I think it's distasteful. And the worst part is that in all likelihood they're just selling you a CD with the pdf and mp3 files taken from these free sites, which are quite good quality. Be warned.


  1. Hello, I have referred many people to the old FSI site, having found it accidentally several months ago. I studied Spanish, Italian, and Cantonese with these courses twenty years ago.
    You can imagine how excited I was to find them free.
    I have two Italian courses I wanted to donate, and could not get a response from anyone. I gave them to a cousin but could get them back if they could be converted for the public.
    Good luck with the site. Gae Marino. gae.11@hotmail.om

  2. http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Foreign%20Service%20Institute%22%20AND%20collection%3Aopensource

    1. What happened to the site? It's not up anymore.

  3. I've also been looking for these materials lately and this site isn't running anymore. Any advice on where to find them? Thanks for your help.

  4. The files are here!

  5. You can also find the files here:


    On this site you can actually download each course, instead of having to do it one file at a time.