Why Free Programs Don’t Work as Well as Ones You Pay For

Imagine that you are going to choose between two different language learning programs. One of them your rich uncle will buy for you … so it feels like it’s free!  The other one you have to buy for yourself with hard earned dollars.

Now imagine that the free program is 15% better than the program that you have to pay for with your own money.

So which one will do a better job of teaching YOU a foreign language?

Why the one you have to pay for yourself of course.

To understand why that is true, it helps to stop and consider this slightly edited quote from the American writer Thomas Paine.

“What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods.”

If You Get Something Free, You Won’t Value it Much

That’s true for language learning as it’s true for many other things.  If someone gives you a car, you probably won’t wash it as often as you would a car that you paid for yourself.

You are much more likely to keep studying when you use a program that seemed expensive for you than if you use a free or a cheap program. If you want our software to work well for you, then buy the language package that seems expensive for you.

Our software is expensive … in terms of money …  because it works better than anything else on the web.

However our software will be very inexpensive for you … in terms of time … because it was designed so that you can learn quickly and retain what you learned — for a lifetime!

“It is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” If you don’t pay a lot for a language learning program it isn’t likely to work.

If you liked this article please link to:

Why Free Programs Don’t Work as Well as Ones You Pay For

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  • I disagree…some of the best things in life are free!!!

    So, what is the cost of your Spanish courses?

    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      Hi Barbie,

      Of course you’re right. Some of the best things in life are free. However when you need to motivate yourself to do something important but not urgent, paying for it is a lot better than getting it for free.

      Money can be a good tool for motivating yourself, just like a good hammer is a tool for driving a nail. It’s not the only tool for motivating yourself, but it is a good one.

      Our Spanish prices are here:

      We already have some Spanish lessons for construction and we can add more if you need them.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Gina

    I agree that spending money keeps you more motivated than the “free” lessons.

    But unless you really speak it, you lose it.

    I really want it to stick this time!

  • Martin

    That’s why is a good choice, Gina. The software almost tricks your brain into remembering. I’ve tried it and I’m really impressed by it.

    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      Thank you for your kind words.

  • Angela V

    I agree with your theory, it was certainly true about my first car. But what about my wanting to give the language program as a gift to my daughter? Should I see if she wants it first? (She’s trying to learn Italian on her own) Maybe it won’t be appreciated enough.

    • thomas

      Angela –

      Gifts from a place of love and thoughtfulness are always appreciated! If your daughter truly is attempting to learn Italian on her own already then that is an excellent expression of desire! Being given a tool to make that easier, more fun and more effective will payoff for her immediately. The simple enthusiasm that is earned by feeling successful in accomplishing a task that has already begun undertaken is a great reward to keep the work happening. Now, if you gave her a different product and she got frustrated by it, I would be willing to bet that she would lose interest very rapidly. That’s why we’ve been developing with enthusiasm, personal emotional rewards and effective learning tools!

  • Tom Guinan

    Please stat the cost of the Language 101 course [Mexican Spanish, not Castillion].

    • thomas

      $727 – All language super package (all levels of all languages).
      $527 – All language levels 1, 2, and 3 for just one language.
      $377 – Two language levels (both 1 and 2) for only one language.
      $227 – One level of one language. You choose level 1, 2, or 3.

  • Ann

    Do you have recommendations for learning Italian? I see it is not on the list of languages you offer. I was going to get Rosetta Stone but now am rethinking.


    • Brent Van Arsdell
      Brent Van Arsdell

      Hi Ann,

      I’d sure try Pimsleur over Rosetta Stone. We actually have a LOT of Italian lessons that are done, we just aren’t quite ready to release the whole Italian program.


  • Steve

    Good Evening,
    Is there any chance of getting Ukrainian soon? I know it has a lot of similarities with Russian, so it wouldnt be too difficult to make that one… hint hint… I use Pimsleur now for Russian and Ukrainian, and much of the grammar and vocab cross over, although some letters sound a little different…


    • thomas

      Steve –

      Thanks for encouraging us to develop Ukranian. We are currently finishing up Italian and working on Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Until those three are ready for use we are keeping our efforts on designing a parallel version of the software in HTML5 so that more people can access and use from more devices.


  • Joel

    Interesting Article. I agree that when something is valued more, one will feel more “obligated” to make sure it gets used. However I don’t think buying it is the only way to achieve this. If my hypothetical rich uncle bought me something, I would probably be very appreciative, and would feel the need to use it so as not to waste his money and thoughtfulness.

    At any rate, I really like the look of your programs, although the cost is prohibitive for someone like me (college student with a lousy minimum-wage part time job). But I might consider saving up if you offered Japanese, a language I have really wanted to learn for some time.

    Any idea if/when you will offer Japanese? Any suggestions for trying to learn it in the meantime?

    • thomas

      Joel –

      It’s true – some people have learned gratitude in their lives – others are still very privileged and “look gift horses in the mouth”. Either way I’m sorry that you are unable to afford the software. Because there are people like you who can appreciate a tool for the tool rather than the investment it can be considered as has developed a scholarship program funded by generous supporters of the software!

      Please take a look at the information page and apply if you feel it is right for you!

      We are currently working on Japanese. We intend to have the first lessons released very soon. I wish I could offer a better timeframe for your expectations.

      If you need to learn spoken Japanese before we can get our release ready then I can suggest the Pimsleur method:

      They have a nice spoken offering though you will not be able to learn to read the language until releases our version that will have full character recognition support.


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