Let me start by saying that in my opinion, education is a worthwhile investment of money. I believe that teachers and tutors should be paid well, and that it's worth it to pay good money for high-quality educational curricula, textbooks, and computer programs. My absolute favorite homeschool curriculum is a very pricey one, and I think the education it provides is worth every penny.
I have a preK-12th grade private home education, a B.A. from a private university, a cosmetology license from a 10-month course, and a TEFL certificate.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars have already been invested in my education, and at some point, I just want to be able to continue learning on my own without having to continually pay for more courses.
Here are a few of the resources I've found helpful in my studies recently:
I heard about this through my almost 16 year old sister, who is using it for SAT prep. I decided that with a brother working on his computer engineering degree and a long-standing history as a writer on the internet, it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to get more comfortable with the world of computers, so I've already worked my way through their intro to computer programming course and have started on the second, with plans to work my way through all of their computer courses. This website seems strongly math-focused, with math courses from kindergarten level all the way up to college-level, so if I ever decide to regret that I only took one math course in college, I know exactly where to go.
I think this program is really cool, but I'll admit that I don't really make use of it. It's all about language learning, but currently, the only available languages are European in origin, and I tend to not be interested in learning European languages. But I'm keeping it in mind for when I want to polish up my Spanish.
I've used this solely for Mandarin Chinese, but that's not what it's all about. There are many, many different courses available--my parents have used a few of their Bahasa Indonesia courses. They have non-language courses, too. This program works a lot like digital flashcards, so it's great for memorizing vocabulary words, but not so great for learning how to put sentences together.
This site is an incredibly detailed data-providing search engine. You know how whenever you want to quick learn some facts about a random person or historical event, you'll go to Wikipedia? I think the best way to describe this site is a little like Wikipedia, only with a much better looking design, and with the ability to answer far more questions. The site is heavily loaded with data, so if you're looking for numerical facts, or answers to scientific or mathematical problems, it's fantastic!
This is an amazing, free audio resource. Thousands of podcasts and accompanying dialogue transcripts are available at every level from beginner Mandarin to very advanced, and they are free to listen to online, although a premium membership (with a fee) will allow you to download them all. The nature of these podcasts means that they provide far more listening practice and grammar instruction than Memrise ever could. I've been faithfully listening to intermediate-level podcasts from the archives every day, and I've come to really appreciate the slightly twisted sense of humor which appears to be their trademark.
This is not really free, or, at least the number of free video lessons is very small compared to the number of lessons available for paid students. Video lessons from Yoyo Chinese are loaded onto Youtube by the user Yang Yang Cheng, and although comparatively few of them are actually free, I am extremely impressed by the design of the videos as well as by her teaching style. I would consider paying for this program except that from the sample videos, what's available is a bit below my level. Still, the videos available on Youtube are very fun to watch and provide great listening practice, so I've tried to convince Angel to watch these Youtube videos as our evening entertainment. I'm signed up for her weekly emails, which sometimes have cool resources--recently she sent out one with a link to the Youtube video of a Mandarin pop song that's actually understandable at my level, and I thought that was a lot of fun--I tend to find songs pretty difficult to understand (it's not like I can understand all English pop songs, after all....). If you're interested, check out Lao Shu Ai Da Mi ("Mice Love Rice"). It's silly, but I can understand the song and even sing it and write the lyrics so I'm impressed with myself. Are we allowed to say things like that?
Growing Up with Chinese
Apparently, I'm really into internet-based language learning tools. This is a 100 episode series produced in conjunction with CCTV. The early episodes are very basic, but I started watching somewhere in the middle of the series, and have enjoyed the listening practice they offer, as well as the introduction to various Chinese idioms (my knowledge of idioms is regrettably lacking). I'm finding myself getting weirdly invested into the continuing stories surrounding Xiao Ming and Lan Lan. Maybe I need a break from watching educational videos...
University courses in which lecture materials have been uploaded online. You can choose which courses you're interested in and work your way through them at your own pace (usually). I think there are some options for paying for a "Verified Certificate" that you have completed the course, but I'm skeptical of that service as I don't see a huge value in Certificates purchased via the internet. Still, the courses are very interesting--it's fun to hear actual college lectures again without the pressure of looming exams. I enrolled myself in a few, including one on the Art of Teaching, which doesn't start till next week. I love my job, and it can't be a bad idea to learn more about it, right?
Obviously, these websites are skewed toward my particular interests, which are, perennially, Mandarin Chinese and other languages, and lately, computer stuff. What sites have you found useful in your own educational pursuits?