Language learning apps may be a powerful tool for enhancing your language skills, however, in case you need to become fluent, you’ll probably want extra assistance. A Columbia University assessment of language apps recognized 3 main weaknesses: “First, apps generally tend to educate vocabulary in isolated units as opposed to in applicable contexts; 2d, apps minimally adapt to suit the skill units of individual learners; and third, apps rarely offer explanatory corrective remarks to learners.”
Every linguist agrees that human interplay is an essential part of learning a 2d language, so it’s important to search for language learning apps that consist of a choice to listen to and communicate to the native audio system of your selected language. It’s additionally beneficial whilst apps cowl real-lifestyles scenarios, tell stories and provide cultural context. Apps that target vocabulary building can assist, however only along with training or different learning tools. There has been rather little research on the efficacy of language learning apps, however, a Michigan State University examination found that our pinnacle pick, Babbel, didn`t simply facilitate grammar and vocabulary acquisition but additionally progressed oral conversation skills.
Language learning apps can assist beginners and intermediate students to build a foundation. If you simply need to examine sufficient to order a coffee, they are able to get you there. Fluency requires immersion and comprehension, whether or not thru talking with local speakers, learning in a classroom, or studying books and looking at movies.
Best Language learning apps Overall
If you’re looking for a complete language-learning package, Babbel is the way to go. It teaches the basics of grammar, including special vowels and consonants and their correct pronunciations, before moving on to conversational scenarios in common settings. I particularly like the conversations where you fill in the blanks, the option to choose courses on different topics (there’s no fixed order), and the insights into local culture and slang. Babbel does a great job of explaining grammar rules as you practice to build a deeper understanding. The mixture of learning options includes podcasts and games, and you can even book live online classes with language teachers (though this is expensive). The pacing is good, with a slow increase in difficulty and plenty of spaced repetition to reinforce your learning.
Unfortunately, the free trial is limited, offering just a single lesson for each language. Some lessons are dry, and it inevitably feels repetitive at times. There’s no real gamification here, so it lacks the addictive hook of some other apps. I also occasionally had issues with speech recognition and could not nail the pronunciation.
Babbel is $13 per month, $30 for 3 months, $50 for 6 months, or $84 annually. Unlimited Babbel Live costs $99 per month, $209 for 3 months, $359 for 6 months, and $599 for a year.
Designing an addictive hook into your language practice is a clever way to keep you engaged, and Duolingo nails gamification like no other. It’s easy to pick up, slick, and fun to use, and you will soon find yourself jealously guarding your daily streak. Each module is broken into topics, and the course is structured, so you must complete several lessons to unlock more. Modules cover social situations like dates or surprise parties, but they also tackle grammatical topics. Useful tips are scattered throughout, and there’s a good mix of learning techniques with stories, puzzles, reminders, and explanations of common mistakes.
Duolingo has expanded beyond its focus on vocabulary building, adding podcasts and stories to the usual reading and writing exercises, but it is still light on speaking and listening, and it won’t teach you to be fluent on its own. The free tier offers a lot of great content, but you do have to endure ads. The gamification can also be stressful, as you are limited to five hearts each day, and you lose one when you get something wrong. You can ditch the limits and ads, and learn offline by subscribing to Duolingo Plus. There are also in-app purchases, but all the core content is free.
Duolingo is free. Duolingo Plus is $13 per month or $84 annually.
With a focus on vocabulary and the kinds of casual conversations you might have as a traveler, Memrise is a useful learning tool. The Android app is very accessible and uses a familiar flashcard approach with spaced repetition to help you memorize words and phrases. There are also grammar lessons and forgiving speech-recognition exercises. What I like most are the “Learning With Locals” video clips, with a variety of native speakers, as this feels closer to the experience of being in the country. You can set goals, lessons are quick, and there’s a bit of gamification and prodding to keep you coming back. You can also get a lot of value from the free version, and the basic courses are bolstered by user-generated content.
On the downside, Memrise is very focused on vocabulary, the web app isn’t as good as the mobile app, and the exercises can get repetitive. There isn’t much in the way of explanation, and there’s no opportunity to have conversations. If you delve into the user-created content, you will find the quality varies wildly. The free version gives you access to plenty, but you can unlock more features and offline access with a Pro account.
Memrise is free. Memrise Pro is $8 per month, $59 annually, or $120 for a lifetime membership.
With a structured language learning course that includes the usual mix of flashcards, grammar exercises, and casual conversations, Busuu is a solid option. Lessons are organized into chapters dealing with typical situations, and it feels very polished overall. I like the videos of short conversations, but the best feature is the user review. Busuu matches you with a native speaker of the language you are learning, and they correct and comment on your work (written and spoken)—you can do the same for others. You can also add friends, which builds a sense of community and gives you insights you might not otherwise get. Busuu has also incorporated live lessons in groups or one-to-one.
Busuu only covers 13 languages, and some reviews suggest the quality is variable. I found it great for Spanish, but that’s a common language to learn. Some of the typing exercises are a bit of a chore, and the quality of the user review feedback can vary. You can get the basic lessons for a single language for free, but you need to subscribe to the Premium plan for offline learning, grammar lessons, and AI-powered review, and only the Premium Plus plan gives you access to multiple languages, community feedback, a study plan, and certificates.
Busuu is free, and live lessons start at $13 per lesson. Busuu Premium is $10 per month or $70 annually, and Premium Plus is $14 per month or $80 annually.
This slick app is a solid way for visual learners to build their vocabulary. You start by picking one of 39 supported languages, decide how much time you want to commit daily, and choose categories like food, travel talk, or business and tech. Drops fall from the top of the screen and reveal pictures you must correctly identify by tapping, dragging, and pairing what’s onscreen. Each drop is also spoken aloud in your chosen language. It’s very easy to dip into, with a timer at the top right showing your remaining session time, and there’s plenty of repetition to reinforce your learning.
Don’t expect grammar lessons, speaking, or pronunciation practice, as Drops is all about teaching you words and phrases, so it’s best used as a complementary vocabulary builder. I enjoyed using it, but one thing that annoyed me was having to add payment details to access the seven-day free trial. It’s also more difficult than it should be to cancel.
Drops Premium is $11 per month, $77 annually, or $160 for a lifetime membership.
More Language Apps
Here are a few more services and apps that can work well as supplemental tools to your language learning efforts, though some I don’t like as much as the options above.
Language Reactor (Free): This clever Chrome extension works with YouTube and Netflix to give you subtitles for whatever you are watching in two languages, so you can see your native language and the language you are trying to learn. You can also highlight words to see the translation, review all the subtitles, and get other examples of their usage.
Mondly ($10 per month): A colorful app offering short lessons organized into modules on different topics, Mondly is easy to jump into and offers lots of useful words and phrases with competitive gamification. Highlights include a chatbot, regular quizzes and challenges, and a leaderboard. Unfortunately, it makes little effort to explain grammar rules, and the app feels a bit haphazard and clunky.
Rosetta Stone ($12 per month): These immersive language programs offer bite-sized lessons, and there’s a focus on listening and speaking without explanations or translations. The content is accessible and polished, and you can engage in online tutoring sessions through the app. It’s a bit dry and formal, the speech recognition is hit-or-miss, and it lacks the style and gamification of many competitors. Still, it obviously works well for many people.
Lirica ($8 per month): Can you learn a language through music? Lirica is a fun app that uses popular songs and videos to teach you Spanish, English, or German. It breaks down song lyrics to teach you vocabulary and grammar with handy explanations of colloquial language. It’s a bit gimmicky and is best used to complement other learning approaches, but it is enjoyable.