What are the best language learning apps good for in a world where English is widely spoken? For every traveler out there it must have become clear by now that immersing oneself in the local culture is best achieved if one can spin out a few phrases in the native tongue of the locals.
While a bilingual travelling guide may work wonders from this point of view, learning a new language is an extraordinary personal and professional gain. During your travels you surely wish to communicate with the locals beyond the classic asking for directions or ordering a lunch menu.
This is where language learning apps can help. Picking up a new language the good old-fashioned way may be time and finance intensive. Against this background, the best language learning apps today offer either a free or less costly alternative to learning new languages. In addition, they provide the much needed flexibility that enables each users to learn at his or her own pace.
Here is our list comprising 9 of the best language learning apps to feed your appetite for knowledge.
Duoliongo is touted as the best language learning app by millions of users worldwide. Available online, as an iOS app or Android app as well as Windows app, Duolingo has a user-friendly interface that looks almost childish at times.
It is this well-designed interface that entices users around the world to immerse themselves in language learning through fun practice. Duolingo offers language learning for Spanish, Italian, German, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian, Irish, Norwegian, Welsh, Polish, Esperanto.
For most of the languages in this wide selection, Duolingo provides constant reading, listening, writing and speaking drills. An interactive language learning app, Duolingo follows the gamification logic. Users are rewarded with points for each completed lesson and registered progress. Friends can follow each other’s progress as lessons advance and the language skills are polished to perfection.
In 2013, Duolingo was voted the best app to learn a language for both Google Play Store and AppStore. It continues ranking high in users’ preferences as one of the best apps for learning languages.
Babbel is quite similar in design to Duolingo. However, the language choice removes some of the options (such as Esperanto) and introduces others (such as Indonesian). While the main mechanism at play here is learning through listening, reading and repeating, the added benefit is that users can choose to focus on one specific set of lessons before moving on to more complex ones.
Babbel is also available to download as an Android app on Google Play and as one of the best language learning apps for iPhone via the AppStore. It’s free to download. However, in order to access advanced options, a monthly subscription of 11 dollars is required.
Babbel enables users to set goals customized to their learning pace and preferences. Setting benchmarks allows the effective tracking of progress.
Livemocha offers language enthusiasts the possibility to immerse in the learning of over 30 languages. One of the highly valued perks of using Livemocha is that users can interact with native speakers so as to polish their language skills.
Each of the conventional four study sets – reading, writing, listening, speaking – is approached in separate modules. The lessons are well structured and provide valuable insight on vocabulary, grammar and many more.
With Livemocha, each user may become a tutor for others. This can earn you credits which can be spent on Premium membership. Virtual classes or private tutoring in online lessons are also well-ranked features offered by the online platform.
This online platform has gathered over 40 million registered users acting as tutors in their respective native tongues. As one of the best apps for language learning, Bussu boasts an impressive collection of language courses in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, as well as Arabic, Chinese and Polish.
Bussu is one of the best free language learning apps for beginners. From using flashcards touting new phrases and vocabulary to practicing the newly gained knowledge, Bussu has it all. However, advanced lessons involving live dialogues, audio recordings, exercises, PDFs and many other language learning resources require paid membership.
All the mock conversations and exercises are peer reviewed by native speakers of the language you chose to learn.
5. Living Language
As most of the best language learning apps, Living Language has two membership tiers: a free one and a paid one. Both tiers include beginner level courses in 20 languages. The courses span everything from vocabulary to grammar and cultural points, as well as audio materials.
To spice it up a bit, Living Language inserted interactive games, language-related puzzles and e-tutoring, all of these features having native speakers at the center. The iOS app and the Android app work effortlessly in bringing all the content and interactive features to users who are always on the go.
6. Foreign Services Institute
The Foreign Services Institute has been initially designed for the U.S. government. The high-quality materials offered on this website are the perfect tools for learning over 40 languages. Don’t be fooled by the striped-down interface.
The free materials offered here will help you learn the basics of a foreign language and advance at your own pace. Grammar, listening, vocabulary and repetition will help you gain fluency in no time.
7. BBC Languages
BBC Languages is perhaps one of the oldest language learning platforms out there. Although it’s not quite an app, BBC Languages is deemed one of the best apps for learning a language. With several sections split according to learning levels and possible interests of each user, BBC Languages is certainly one of the best free resources to help you jump start the learning process.
One of the best features of this app is that is also offers users the possibility to take assessment tests. Once you know if you’re a beginner user, intermediate user or advanced user, the app will generate learning resources fit for your level. The video materials are high-quality and quite valuable learning tools.
AnkiApp may be more specialized than other language learning apps. Nonetheless, for those of you looking to learn Japanese and gain deeper insight on the Japanese culture and way of life, AnkiApp is the place for you.
Available online and as iOS app, as well as one of the best language learning apps Android, AnkiApp captivates users with Japanese words flashcards. Flash learning sessions, tests, video materials and interactive features make this app the perfect tool for learning Japanese.
Chinese is a popular language learning choice. However, not many online resources and apps offer the possibility to learn this language. Yet Brainscape is a brilliant presence among language learning apps. Users can learn Mandarin Chinese with the use of 5,500 flashcards. Downloading the app is free. Nonetheless, gaining access to all the available content costs 19.99 dollars.
It’s never too late to start learning a new language. Whether you want to challenge yourself, learn another language to understand the local culture better during your travels or to gain a professional advantage, this list of the best language learning apps should get you right on track.