In a study conducted by the polling organization ICM in the UK, students were asked what they considered the three main benefits of learning a foreign language. The most frequent answers were better job opportunities abroad, talking to other people and the chance to learn about a different culture. However, when these same people were asked what they consider to be the three downsides to learning a new language, the answers changed. Learning grammar is difficult, they said, as is learning new vocabulary. Additionally, they said that most people speak English. While this is untrue (there are more Chinese and Spanish speakers in the world than there are English speakers), it is true that learning a new language can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
We are living in an information age, and this means that learning a new language has never been easier. There are tons of apps for smartphones that are designed to help you learn that language you’ve always dreamed of learning. The tough part is deciding which ones to use. Here is a list of the nine best language apps that make learning grammar and vocabulary a little less difficult and a lot more fun.
Duolingo is one of my personal favorites for learning a new language. For starters, there are more than 24 languages that are offered, including Danish, Swahili, Hebrew and Greek. It can be accessed via smartphone or computer and both renderings are smooth and polished. Duolingo teaches foreign languages like a game; there are different levels you must work through in order to advance, you can earn points and spend them at the store and you can even compete with friends. Basically, Duolingo is perfect if you find that games make learning a little easier, and you're fine with learning a little bit each day.
While Babbel doesn't quite have the stunning variety that Duolingo offers in terms of languages, it still teaches 13 different languages. The free version offers many different classes, which can be downloaded to be accessed offline at any time. It also includes helpful reminders and tips about grammar, as well as a strong focus on being able to speak the language verbally. Like Duolingo, it is designed for bite-size practices. Click here to learn more.
Looking to expand your vocabulary of a particular language? Memrise is the app to have handy. It's a completely free app with over ten different languages. Courses come in bundles, so some might be simply "Turkish 1" or they might be something more unique, such as the key words found in the Japanese edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." One of the cool parts about Memrise is that it's not just limited to verbally spoken languages. It also offers courses on American Sign Language, Computer Programming languages and even body language. It's definitely the place to go to expand your vocabulary in a fun way.
TripLingo is a great app to have if you are traveling to a different country and want to learn a bit of the language before hopping on a plane. It's a free app that offers quick translations of common phrases, useful vocabulary to memorize and even caters to the formality level and local dialect of some languages. It even offers a 24-hour translator that you can call. Basically, if you want to study up a bit before your trip to France or Spain, download TripLingo.
The app HelloTalk has a theory about learning a new language, and it's this: We learn best by conversing with each other. HelloTalk is a messaging app where you can talk to people from all over the world. For example, if you speak English and would like to learn more French, the app will pair you up with a French-speaking person, who will then converse with you. They are able to comment on your spelling and grammar and offer you helpful hints for improving your skills. Group chats are an option as well. HelloTalk is a little bit different from your standard language-learning apps and courses, so check it out here.
MindSnacks is actually not just one app, but a series of apps, one for each of the nine languages it offers. It bills itself as "games for your brain." Much like Duolingo, MindSnacks turns language learning into an opportunity to have some fun. Players can earn badges, track their progress and level up from learning the basics of languages like Spanish, Chinese and German. Plus, the design is so adorable. Visit their website here.
Busuu is not an entirely free app, but the free version has one great element to it: flashcards. Save your index cards for something better and use Busuu to crank through your vocabulary. If you opt to go for Busuu Premium, you will get access to quizzes, grammar lessons, a vocabulary trainer and more. Check it out here.