Ever hear about the man who went all over Paris saying “Lick Me!” (“L?chez-moi!”) to ward off panhandlers? What he meant to say was “Leave Me!” (“Laissez-moi!”).
Or the woman in Madrid who kept getting beers when she asked for “cervesas”? She was trying to delicately ask for the “servicios,” i.e. the toilet.
Language lapses can be funny. They can also be embarrassing or even dangerous.
And they’re not necessary. Not with all the amazing language learning apps we have at our fingertips
Don’t think an app can help you learn a new language? I’ve done the research, and I’ve got a rundown for you of the best language learning apps in 2018!
So “vamonos!” (That means “Let’s go!” in Spanish. This guide will show you how to pronounce it.)
The Best Language Learning Apps
There are three heavyweight contenders in the best language learning app category.
There are also a number of slightly lighter, but scrappy competitors rapidly making strides in the arena.
So let’s get started learning:
To Pay or Not to Pay?
One thing you’ll have to decide before you begin your language learning adventure is whether you want to pay for it and how you feel about ads in your app.
Fully Free Best Language Learning Apps
Duolingo is one of the most well-known of the best language learning apps and is generally judged to be one of the easiest to use.
It’s also entirely free, although you can pay to remove the ads.
Languages on offer for English speakers include:
Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, German, High Valyrian, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japenese, Klingon, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welsh
(Fun fact for Trekkies and Game of Thrones fans: Did you notice Klingon and High Valyrian on that list? I’d call that “muy bueno”! Wouldn’t you? Check this guide for translation and pronunciation help to be sure.)
How Duolingo Works
There are dozens of sets of lessons on Duolingo that are skill-based, including things like basic phrases, foods, colors, numbers, nature, animals, date and time.
Other important categories would be medical terms, those related to family and measurements, and essential stuff like adjectives and prepositions.
One of the coolest things about Duolingo is that it is highly social, allowing you to learn with (and compete against) your friends, and turning the app into a game you play even as you’re sharpening those specific language skills.
According to Duolingo, its app is scientifically proven to work best for people who have no knowledge at all of their targeted new language.
You can use it on your phone or tablet, or on a PC.
Both the apps and the website are user-friendly, with a simple, clear design and keyboard shortcuts that allow you to quickly submit your answers and play the pronunciation audio.
There’s also a microphone function to allow you to speak into the app and test your speaking and pronunciation skills.
Best Language Learning Apps with Free and Paid Versions
Memrise is similar in many ways to Duolingo, but it’s based on a more traditional way of learning, with a focus on repetition and memorization.
The app can be used on both iOs and Android systems.
It also supports offline courses and offers a huge number of languages.
How Memrise Works
What makes Memrise unique is how it teaches you by putting words into sentences with similar-sounding words to your native language. The idea is to help build a connection in your brain, thus helping you remember.
The app also sometimes presents different images over the foreign text you are learning so that you can scroll through to lock the word and its associated image into your mind.
Memrise is more old-school in that it relies on old-fashioned memory learning.
And who, in this day of shrinking attention spans, couldn’t use a memory workout?
Memrise received the Google Play Best App award for 2017.
What Does It Cost?
The base app is free, but there is also a Pro version that includes access to the offline mode, a system for chatting with native speakers, and unlimited access to every module.
After a week’s free trial, a month-to-month subscription is $9 per month, a three-month subscription is $6.33 per month, an annual subscription is $4.92 per month, and a lifetime subscription is a one-time charge of $129.
Busuu is easy-to-learn and flexible, and it uniquely matches its learning levels to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) levels (except for the most advanced).
So users can progress from Beginner to Elementary, then to two levels of intermediate. The app also ads a Travel level, which is a nice touch.
How Busuu Works
This app features words and phrases you’d encounter if you were already around speakers of another language and needed to learn to communicate quickly.
Courses are divide by topic and type. The free version gives you a variety of lessons in the learning levels and includes flashcards, while the paid version features conversations with native speakers, grammar lessons and full access to twelve difference language courses.
What Does It Cost?
The (limited) base app is free. The paid version ranges from $8.33 per month for three months to $5.41 per month for 24 months.
Let’s not forget the younger language learners in our midst.
FlashAcademy is designed for them, with lots of games to keep the little learners on track.
How FlashAcademy Works
Mini games with each exercise keep it fun as learners master grammar and vocabulary. Cartoon icons are paired with vocabulary words to keep the kids glued to the screen and making it easy for them to remember new words and phrases.
Something your kids will love is FlashAcademy’s ability to use the camera on your phone to scan objects around them and then immediately identify what they’re seeing in the language they are learning.
The app is only available on iOs devices.
What Does It Cost?
FlashAcademy’s premium version is $8.99 per month without the ability to scan objects and translate. With that feature, it’s $12.98 per month.
Pay Your Way?
Babbel is on the list of best language learning apps because it’s perfect for those who have some basic knowledge of a language, but would like to go deeper, especially with their speaking skills.
The app puts an emphasis on conversation, and works to get you to the point of holding useful (and fun) conversations with native speakers.
It is a solid, more traditional, repetition-based option for language learning.
How Babbel Works
The short ten- to fifteen-minute lessons can be downloaded to your phone or tablet so you always have the option of using the app offline. You can also learn on your computer.
The courses are split up into beginner and intermediate sections. There are also lessons broken down by topic, type of learning (speaking, reading, listening), and parts of grammar.
Babbel has fewer available languages, but a more comprehensive range of courses within the available languages.
There are even lessons that discuss cultural issues a new language learner should be aware of.
What Does It Cost?
Babbel works on a monthly subscription model, with from one-month to one-year pricing. It’s $12.95 on a month-to-month basis, $8.95 per month for three months, $7.45 per month for six months, and $6.95 per month for a year-long subscription.
No list of the best language learning apps would be complete without Rosetta Stone.
It is the granddaddy of language learning apps, having been born way back in 1992 as software for your PC.
Like the famous Ancient Egyptian artifact it’s named after, this app has unlocked the mysteries of language for countless travelers over the years.
How Rosetta Stone Works
Rosetta Stone prides itself on its method of “natural acquisition” of language skills.
Its immersion approach and slow-and-steady pace mean you’ll learn your chosen language the way a child acquires his or her native tongue: by being immersed in it and building up word and sentence association by trial and error.
The Rosetta Stone program pairs pictures with words and phrases in the target language without referring to the learner’s native language.
With Rosetta Stone, you get the main courses plus online tutoring services in your chosen language, access to a community of learners and a variety of language games to help you.
Rosetta Stone also uses what it calls the world’s best speech recognition technology.
There is an online subscription which works on computers as wells as smartphones and tables. There’s also a software version for your PC.
One drawback, however, is that you pay for only one language at a time. If you want to learn another language, you have to pay again.
Rosetta Stone does offer programs for businesses as well as Educator and Homeschool options.
What Does It Cost?
Here’s the hard part: Rosetta Stone is more expensive than the other language learning apps.
The company does allow customers to take advantage of interest-free payment plans.
Online per-month subscription prices run from $16.99 for three months to $5.99 for 24 months.
Keep in mind that with Rosetta Stone, you pay for only one language at a time. If you want to learn another language, you have to pay again.
Mastering the Lingo
You don’t have to make embarrassing mistakes when speaking a foreign language. And you don’t have to have majored in a certain language in college to really learn it.
No matter your age, there are a number of great apps to help you learn in your spare time or while you are traveling.
Your phone or tablet or computer can guide you to linguistic literacy in no time.
I hope this list of the best language learning apps has been helpful to you!
Want to know more about learning another language? Contact us to find out more about the best language learning apps and so much more!