Multilingual portals that can fast-track your language learning: is RFI right for you?

People’s online reading habits have been researched thoroughly nowadays, and for all the media companies I have worked for in the past decade – be they news-oriented or more fluffy entertainment style – the patterns have been the same. The peak reading period tends to be between 6am and 9am. That is, when people wake up they like to know what has happened overnight, if anything, and what are likely to be the big issues in the day ahead. smartphone-584704_640The advent of smartphones and tablets and broad wi-fi coverage from the telecommunications companies has made this more pronounced. Few people read a newspaper on the trains any more, they are all online – mostly on social media (although a good number, I notice, play games). There is also a noticeable rise in reading activity round about 9pm or 10pm, when people are unwinding in bed. (If you do this, please note that more and more reports are coming out saying that the constant subjecting of ourselves to the blue light of our smartphones and tablets is disrupting our sleeping patterns and is bad for our health.)

I have previously written on how you can change your default computer language and internet home page to boost your language studies: see Language learning can click easily into place, which also looked at the BBC’s French, Spanish and Portuguese news pages. Unfortunately, the BBC does not delve into Romanian or Italian. However, Radio France Internationale goes one better as far as Romance languages are concerned. Have a look at its language options (I am using the English version here.)

RFI language box

It offers French, of course, Spanish, Portuguese and, rather surprisingly, Romanian. If you are learning one or two of these languages, and are one of the poeple who likes to cast your eye over the news headlines just after you have woken up, RFI is a great website to use. You’ll soon learn the key words of the day in all four languages.

Below, for example, are screen grabs of their coverage of a recent big news item – Jordan’s execution of two jihadists in retaliation for Islamic State’s horrific immolation of the Jordanian Air Force pilot whose jet crashed while on a raid over Syria. How much can you understand of their news reports? I bet it is more than you’d think. (Apologies for not picking a more pleasant story, but it was the biggest news item at the time I started preparing this post. Right now their lead stories are all different.)



RFI French Jordan



RFI Portuguse Jordan



RFI romanian jordan



RFI spanish Jordan

In coming weeks we shall have a look at other international broadcasters to see what their language offerings are like. With any luck we will find one that does include Italian.                                                      


I have a soft spot for Jordan. I had been there in 2011 on a travel writing assignment, it was my first trip to the region, and I was very taken in by the friendliness of the people. At the time, trouble had already started brewing in Syria, and Jordan was having to give shelter to what turned out to be a massive influx of refugees. I found the execution of the Jordanian pilot, Moath Youssef al-Kasasbeh – burnt alive while trapped in a cage – particularly gruesome and barbaric and shocking. We live in a very troubled world. You can read my impressions of Jordan here.


6 thoughts on “Multilingual portals that can fast-track your language learning: is RFI right for you?

    • Hi, I hope you are well. The next international broadcaster I was going to look at next was Deutsche Welle, the German one. They broadcast in 30 languages, including German of course. Try …. The link to the 30 languages is top right on their website. I hope that helps! I tried learning German when I was about 21 or 22 but it was too much for me! Cheers

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