Whether you’re planning to visit a new place, preparing to meet your fiance’s parents, or add a skill set to your resume, learning a foreign language is an undoubtedly practical skill.
A few decades back, you’d have to walk around with a pocket dictionary to help you with simple translations. However, if you lost your copy or forgot to pack it, you’d probably struggle talking to people who don’t speak your language, or find your way around.
Today though, you can still read books on the language you’d like to learn, take online classes, watch YouTube videos, or even listen to audio CDs. However, you might not always be able to carry all those books or CDs with you, making it harder to learn wherever you are.
With a language learning app though, you can quickly learn a few words, phrases, or sentences in a different language right from your mobile device.
Unlike pocket dictionaries, these apps are easy to integrate in your routine wherever you are, and pick up a foreign tongue without ever taking language classes. Another option is to use Google Translate to translate some words, images, or a web page.
Best Language Learning Apps
Here’s our roundup of the best language learning apps that will help you learn a new language without tearing your hair out over grammar.
Duolingo (Android, iOS, Windows)
Duolingo is a free, fun, and addictive language learning app that helps you learn a new language at your own pace. In fact, a study shows that 34 hours of using the app are the equivalent of a university semester’s worth of language courses, which proves just how effective the app’s bite-sized lessons are.
Through personalized lessons and exercises that adapt to your learning style, you can easily and effectively learn and review vocabulary, get instant grading and earn points for correct answers.
Gamification is poured into each lesson that makes the app more enjoyable, plus rewards like virtual coins, level upgrading, and fluency scores motivate you to master new words, phrases, and grammar. You can also revisit the lessons and work on your weak areas at your own time.
Languages you can learn include French, English, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Hebrew, Czech, Swahili, Greek, Romanian, Polish, Russian and many others.
Rosetta Stone (Android, iOS)
Rosetta Stone is another free learning platform that’s been teaching people new languages for more than two decades. Once you download the app, you can flip between 24 different languages or if you want, you can stay focused with personalized learning based on your motivation.
Its proven immersion method helps you learn languages intuitively through pictures tied to common phrases, and get instantaneous feedback to perfect your pronunciation. It also offers Extended Learning features from where you can access different kinds of exercises, and you can also download them to do everything offline if you have a bad internet connection.
A phrase book with basic words and words related to hotels, restaurants, and getting around are available especially if you’re traveling, but you can buy more phrase books related to emergencies, colors, shopping, and currencies.
The app syncs your progress across all your devices, so you can learn basic words and phrases from any device or location on the go. Languages you can learn include French, English, Japanese, German, Arabic, Russian, Turkish, Irish, Hebrew, and more.
Memrise (Android, iOS)
This free language learning app uses simplistic visual aids to guide you through each lesson so you can easily remember what you learn.
The interface is attractive, simple, and user-friendly so you can practice more and expand your vocabulary in a fun and easy way. Videos are included of native speakers saying each word you learn, plus an audio recording of the word or phrase, and at the end of each lesson is a quiz with short questions that test what you’ve learned, and you get rewards in form of points for correct answers.
There are more than 100 languages you can learn including French, German, Chinese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Turkish, and Russian among others.
Busuu (Android, iOS)
Busuu boasts more than 100 million users and offers languages in complete lesson packages that include accent training and exercise reviews from native speakers.
Placement tests are available to help you know what level to start from, and there’s a wide range of learning activities that cover a good amount of content provided through basic flashcards along with exercises that help you with pronunciation, dialogue, grammar, and writing.
To test your knowledge, the app offers fun quizzes and vocabulary games, and an offline mode so you can download the lessons and study without an internet connection.
Languages you can learn include Spanish, English, German, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Turkish, Polish, Chinese, and French.
Mondly (Android, iOS)
Mondly is an easy-to-use language learning app that lets you learn in your native language so you can start speaking fluently in no time.
It packs in-depth lessons on more than 20 topics in a real-life context, with engaging content for learners of all levels, all in a colorful design that makes it fun to learn.
Plus, if you want to practice your conversational skills, there’s a chatbot with speech recognition to guide you along, activities to help consolidate your learning, quizzes and games, and a competition board that tracks your progress.
The first six lessons are free for only one language, but you can unlock more languages by upgrading to a paid subscription. Languages you can learn include English, Russian, Spanish, German, French, Greek, Japanese, Romanian, Hindi, Bulgarian, Croatian, Turkish, Polish, Hebrew, Afrikaans, Finnish, Czech, Swedish, Danish, and more.
Babbel (Android, iOS)
This is another subscription-based app that offers 14 different languages you can learn through listening and repeating words and phrases, and then taking brief quizzes to test what you learn.
Its bite-sized lessons are 10-15 minutes long tailored to beginners and advanced learners, and this makes it easy to learn on the go or if you have a short break in between your schedule. It also syncs progress across all your devices so it’s easy for you to continue from where you left off.
Integrated speech recognition helps you get your pronunciation on point through real-life conversations, and the review manager helps you retain the information and boost your confidence in speaking the new language.
You can also download lessons and learn offline. You only get one lesson for free though, so if you need full access to learning materials for any language, you have to upgrade to a paid plan.
Languages you can learn include French, English, Norwegian, German, Italian, Indonesian, Polish, Turkish, Brazilian, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, and Danish.
HelloTalk (Android, iOS)
HelloTalk takes a different approach to helping you learn a new language. Instead of offering words and phrases in flashcards or pictures, it connects you to native speakers of the language you want to learn, and in return, you help them to learn your language.
Through a full-featured chat experience, you can learn by immersing yourself in someone else’s language, and still be a teacher at the same time. Simply pick your entry level, and then choose a native speaker to learn from.
There are more than 20 million native speakers who you can filter by country or age, and you can learn over 150 different languages including English, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, French, German, Italian, Hindi, Turkish, Thai, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and Vietnamese among many others.
AccelaStudy Essential Apps (iOS)
AccelaStudy Essential apps is a simple to use platform that offers an app for each language you want to learn. The words in the apps vary, but all the features are the same, and you get to learn using flashcards, spaced repetition, audio quizzes, and more while building your study based on what you want to focus on.
It also supports offline use and several learning modes including a hands-free mode so you can learn on the go, especially if you’re driving.
Languages you can learn include Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, French, Dutch, Polish, Korean, Turkish, Russian, Italian, Romanian, and Ukranian among others.
Beelinguapp (Android, iOS)
Beelinguapp offers a unique experience for learners of new languages through story books with an audiobook reader in various dialects.
Each story that you read is displayed in your native language and the new language you’re learning on the same screen, and the words are highlighted along with the narration. This way, you can learn pronunciations quickly, and enjoy your favorite stories like Cinderella and others in a new language.
Speak In Different Tongues
Speaking more than one language has several benefits not just to your resume or friends list, but also to your perception and memory. With the best language learning apps, you have no excuse not to dabble in Turkish, German, Russian, Norwegian, or even Thai.
Would you like to learn a new language? Have you used any of these apps before? If so, share your experience by dropping a comment below.