Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary). Alaikum, salutations, bonjour, konnichiwa, and hello! A learning app can help you expand your vocabulary and better grasp the customs and culture of the nation you are attempting to study. In my quest to learn Spanish, I’ve tried several apps and courses; the quality may differ according to your chosen language, but these are my top picks.

Check out our other travel-related articles, such as How to Travel Abroad, The Best Travel Adapters, Best Carry-On Bags, and Our Favorite Apps and Tips for Travel Planning.

Revised August 2023: We updated our selections with the most recent features and costs, including Lingoda and the Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds, as well as a few honourable mentions.

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Do Apps for Learning Languages Work?

What You Must Understand

Although language learning applications can help increase your language abilities, you may need more assistance to become proficient. “First, apps tend to teach vocabulary in isolated units rather than in relevant contexts; second, apps minimally adapt to suit the skill sets of individual learners; and third, apps rarely offer explanatory corrective feedback to learners,” according to a Columbia University review of language apps that outlined their three main shortcomings.

Finding language learning applications that allow you to converse and listen to native speakers of the language you want to learn is crucial since, as linguists all agree, human connection is essential to learning a second language. Apps that narrate tales, cover real-life experiences, and give cultural context are also beneficial. Vocabulary-building apps can be helpful, but only with other educational resources or programs. Remarkably, more research needs to be done on the effectiveness of language learning applications; moreover, a study from Michigan State University discovered that Babbel, our top choice, enhanced oral communication abilities in addition to helping users acquire grammar and vocabulary. 

Apps for learning languages can aid in the foundation-building process for novice and intermediate learners. They can help you even if your only goal is to learn enough to get a coffee. Whether learning in a classroom, conversing with native speakers, or reading books and watching movies, fluency demands understanding and absorption.

Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Best All-Around

Babbel

Babbel is the best option if you’re seeking a comprehensive language-learning program. It begins with teaching the fundamentals of grammar, covering specific vowels and consonants and how to pronounce them correctly, and then moves on to conversational situations in everyday situations. My favourite features are:

  • The fill-in-the-blank chats.
  • The ability to select courses on various subjects (with no set sequence).
  • Insights into regional customs and dialects.

As you practice and get a more profound knowledge of grammatical principles, Babbel does an excellent job of explaining them. Various learning resources, such as games and podcasts, and the ability to schedule live online language lessons with teachers (although at a premium) are available. With a gradual increase in complexity and spaced repetition, remember what I learned: the pacing is excellent. Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Sadly, the free trial is only available for a single language and has limited availability. Specific lessons are dull, and there will always be moments when everything seems the same. This app doesn’t have the same addictive hook as some other applications because it doesn’t gamify. I also occasionally struggled with voice recognition and had trouble pronouncing words correctly.

Babbel’s pricing is $15 a month, $38 for three months, $67 for six months, $89 a year, or $349 for life. Babbel Live’s unlimited plans run $99 monthly, $209 for three, $359 for six, and $599 for a year.

Top Free Application

Duolingo

One innovative technique to keep you interested in your language practice is to incorporate an irresistible hook. Duolingo excels at gamification better than anybody else. You’ll quickly be enviously protecting your daily streak since it’s simple to use, sleek, and enjoyable. Because the course is organized and each module is divided into subjects, you must finish a few lessons before accessing others. In addition to covering social scenarios like dates and surprise parties, modules address grammar issues. There are helpful hints and a nice blend of learning strategies, including tales, riddles, prompts, and explanations of typical errors. A GPT-powered chatbot has recently been introduced to Duolingo, but using it requires a pricey Max membership. Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Duolingo is still heavy on speaking and listening, and it will only teach you to be proficient on its own if it has moved beyond its emphasis on vocabulary acquisition by including podcasts and tales in addition to the standard reading and writing assignments. There are tons of excellent stuff on the free tier; however, there are advertisements. Because you may only have five hearts each day and lose one for making a mistake, the gamification aspect of the game can also be frustrating. You may eliminate restrictions and advertisements and study offline by purchasing Duolingo Plus. The primary material is entirely free. However, there are in-app purchases available.

It costs nothing to use Duolingo. Super Duolingo costs $13 a month or $84 a year. A Family Plan accommodates up to five users and costs $120 annually. The monthly cost of Duolingo Max is $30, or $168 yearly.

For Informal Discussion

Recall

Memrise is a helpful learning application that focuses on vocabulary and the informal interactions you could have while travelling. The Android app is incredibly user-friendly and helps you learn words and phrases using a well-known flashcard method with spaced repetition. Additionally, there are tasks on forgiving speech recognition and grammar. The Learning With Locals video snippets with local speakers are my favourites since they capture the essence of living in the nation. Lessons are brief, goal-setting is possible, and there’s some gamification and nudging to keep you coming back. The free edition is also very beneficial; user-generated content enhances the entry-level courses. MemBot is a GPT-powered chatbot that lets you practice your interactions without worrying about embarrassing yourself, but it takes a monthly membership. Of course, there’s no alternative to having genuine conversations.

The online app could be better than the mobile app. Memrise is very vocabulary-focused, and the activities can get monotonous. There needs to be more explanation. Therefore, those who are more experienced should search elsewhere. The quality of the user-generated content varies greatly, as you will discover. You can access many things in the free edition, but a Pro subscription unlocks additional features and offline access.

It costs nothing to use Memrise. Memrise Pro costs $15 a month, $90 a year, or $200 if you want to subscribe for life.

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For Examining with Others

Busuu

Busuu is a good choice since it offers an organized language learning program with the typical mix of grammar drills, flashcards, and informal discussions. The lessons are arranged into chapters covering common scenarios, and the whole thing feels well done. Though I enjoy seeing the little chat videos, the user review is the finest feature. With Busuu, you are paired with a native speaker language student who will critique and comment on your written and spoken work. You may reciprocate by doing the same for other users. In addition, adding friends fosters a feeling of community and provides you with information you would not otherwise obtain. Additionally, Busuu now offers live group and one-on-one instruction.

There are 14 languages available on Busuu. However, some reviews claim the quality varies. Although learning Spanish is a common language, it was excellent. The quality of the user review comments varies, and certain typing activities are tedious. The foundational lessons for a single language are available for free. Still, you must sign up for the Premium plan to remove advertisements, access more content, receive AI-powered evaluation, receive priority community comments, and obtain certifications.

While live classes start at $13 per course, Busuu is free. Busuu Premium costs $14 monthly, $51 for a half-year, or $83 annually.

Regarding Live Classes

Lingoda

For many, speaking with actual people in the language you wish to learn is the best method to get better. Lingoda provides hour-long online Zoom lessons with skilled language teachers because finding a class near you or at a convenient time might take a lot of work. You can pay extra for one-on-one instruction or participate in lessons with up to five other students in small groups. Classes must be purchased in blocks, and you will receive digital study materials to help you get ready for class and put what you learnt into practice afterwards. You may choose lessons at times that work for you, register with multiple professors, and take a test to determine your level. Classes are offered around the clock since they are held in many time zones. The ability to communicate with actual people and receive tailored feedback is Lingoda’s most vital feature.

Regretfully, in-person lessons will always be quite pricey and inappropriate for timid people. Confident that your other students and specific instructors are better than others (you can rank them after classes). If you have a good teacher, there are only one or two other students, and everyone gets ready, you can learn a lot. Although there isn’t an app, you will need Zoom and a reliable internet source. Only English, Business English, French, Spanish, and German are available for instruction at Lingoda.

Group lessons with Lingoda start at $76 for five lessons, $135 for twelve, $198 for twenty, and $369 for forty lessons each month. The monthly cost of one-on-one classes is $176 for five, $315 for twelve, $441 for twenty, and $756 for forty. The price varies according to the language.

Distinguished Remarks

Additional Language Apps

Some other services and programs might be helpful as add-ons to your language learning endeavours; however, some could be better than the ones mentioned above.

Lingvist ($10 a month): The creators of Lingvist say it will adjust to you and can help you quickly expand your vocabulary with a strong emphasis on flashcards. There are quiz and grammar portions in the program, and it records your progress. Additionally, word lists are available. The software is simple to use and provides a quick and easy approach to learning.

Another flashcard program that uses spaced recognition is called DuoCards (Free). You can make flashcards to choose the terms you wish to study, so it’s worth looking at. This software will assist you in expanding your vocabulary and is best used in conjunction with other courses or applications. Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)  There are advertisements and restrictions on the number of flashcards you may make with the free basic edition.

Immerse ($24 per month): Everyone knows immersion is the key to learning a language, but Immerse takes the concept further by offering half-hour VR classes. I have yet to have a chance to test it, but it seems interesting. Four courses cost $24 each month. A Meta Quest 2 headset (9/10, recommended by WIRED) is also required. The opportunity to connect and socialize in virtual places with language learners worldwide is one of the ways the creators promote the community aspect of their product.

Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary)

Pimsleur: Dr Paul Pimsleur created a language-learning approach centred on audio listening and verbatim phrase repetition ($15 monthly). This method allows you to practice as you exercise, drive, or clean the house. The brief courses are simple but might feel professional and sluggish because the terminology is purposefully limited.

Fluent: This Chrome plugin ($7/month) highlights English terms on any page and provides Spanish, French, or Italian translations. It’s a great way to add language study to your online browsing. Pronunciations and meanings are also provided, and there are tests to finish. Words tend to stick better when seen in context. Thus, this is an excellent complementary method to increase vocabulary in addition to other learning exercises.

Language Reactor (Free): This ingenious Chrome addon lets you view subtitles in your home language and the language you’re attempting to learn for everything you watch on YouTube or Netflix. Additionally, you may highlight terms to examine their translation, review all the subtitles, and see other instances of their use.

Learn French TV5MONDE (Free): The French-speaking TV channel TV5MONDE offers a free app for anybody wishing to learn the language. To determine your level, you may quickly take a test. Then, you can practice your French by watching TV series with authentic accents. By selecting appropriate programs, you may concentrate on your hobbies and understand how people communicate. There are also applications for iOS and Android.

Mondly ($10 a month): A vibrant app with tons of helpful vocabulary and competitive gamification, Mondly delivers brief courses arranged into modules covering many subjects. It’s simple to use and includes many valuable terms and phrases. Highlights include a leaderboard, frequent challenges and quizzes, and a chatbot. Sadly, it doesn’t try hard to teach grammatical principles, and the app has a haphazard, clumsy feel.

Bite-sized courses are available in Rosetta Stone ($12 per month) immersive language programs, emphasizing speaking and listening without translating or explaining. The program allows you to participate in online tutoring sessions, and the information is well-organized and easily understandable. It lacks the flair and gamification of many rivals, is too stiff and dry, and has inconsistent voice recognition. Still, a lot of people find it useful.

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Lirica ($9/month): Can language be learned via music? Lirica is an entertaining software that teaches you Spanish, English, or German through well-known songs and movies. It uses concise explanations of colloquial language to teach you grammar and vocabulary through the breakdown of song lyrics. Although a little gimmicky, it is entertaining when combined with other teaching strategies.

Hastily? Utilize a Voice Translator

The Pocketalk Plus Voice Interpreter

Try the Pocketalk Plus Voice Translator if you don’t have the time to study a language and don’t want to rely just on Google Translate. It was examined in 2021. Like a smartphone, it’s a portable internet-connected gadget that can translate words accurately and reliably for you and another person. Although the UI can be a little awkward, it supports 82 languages for both text and voice (you can snap photographs of text and have it translated). Our Top Apps for Learning Languages (Plus a Pocket Dictionary) It’s expensive, but if you travel across countries often, it’s a valuable addition to your luggage. Be aware that the SIM card you receive is only suitable for two years, and reconnecting it will cost an additional $50 (you may still use Wi-Fi or tether your phone instead).  

 

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