5 Language Learning Apps to Help You Speak Like a Native
Nothing connects people more effectively than speaking a common language. Whether for work, school, making friends, or even just learning a new recipe, languages are a unique way of expressing thoughts and communicating with others. A language itself says a lot about a country’s history and culture. Before the advent of computers, those interested in learning a new language had to go to school, take specific courses, read books, make their own vocabulary flashcards, or immerse themselves in the country where their target language is the primary tongue. But nowadays, learning is much more accessible, with multiple language learning applications that you can access on your phone, anytime, anywhere.
With language learning apps, you can squeeze in lessons in between classes, work, and before bed – basically whenever you are available. There are many factors to consider in choosing a language learning app: user interface, availability on devices, price, available courses, and resources used. Language learning apps also have unique features of their own, which vary from the use of games to VR technology.
To help you make an informed decision, here are 5 language learning apps that will help you speak like a native (eventually):
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Memrise’s founders believe that language immersion is the best approach to language learning, and aimed to develop an application that will provide users access to something like it right in the palm of their hands.
Memrise’s Learn, Immerse, Communicate method is the foundation for “endless entertainment” for learners, with thousands of videos filmed by native speakers to make language learning more authentic as if the learner is immersing in another country. Aside from the 23 languages available, Memrise also offers unlimited speaker practice with MemBot, their AI-powered language partner that provides accessible language practice. A study says that practicing with MemBot significantly lowers stress levels in learners as compared to practicing with a human language teacher.
The app’s simple but colorful interface combines real-world content and memory techniques to create a personalized yet immersive experience.
Type of app: Free (with available subscriptions)
Babbel is a top-selling language learning application that has over 10 million subscriptions sold worldwide. It uses The Babbel Method, which its website describes as “the shortest path to real-life conversations.” Its structured lessons and courses provide different ways of learning and retaining knowledge, which are based on everyday conversations that only require 10 minutes of learning a day. Its simple but clean user interface also makes learning easy on the eyes.
In 2021, Babbel overhauled its application to include live virtual classes, games, podcasts, and stories to help learners find the cognitive techniques most suited for their language learning journey. It was also named the Global Most Innovative Language Learning Company for 2023.
Type of app: Paid
Duolingo is perhaps one of the most famous language learning applications in the world, as represented by the Duo the mascot, a green owl that sends reminders to users. The app makes language learning more fun with delightful games and bite-sized lessons to remove the pressure of learning and instead turn it into a habit. Aside from its user-friendly layout and colorful art, Duolingo is also famous online for its weird or outlandish sentences used in its lessons, such as “Your bear drinks beer,” to make learning memorable and fun. Believe it or not, this is part of their methodology proven to foster long-term memory.
The language learning app also uses motivation-driven goals and provides lessons in different formats, such as in-person events, stories, and podcasts to improve reading and listening comprehension, turning language learners into language speakers. You can also connect your Duolingo account to Facebook and find your fellow language learner friends.
Duolingo’s new releases include Super Duolingo, a premium version of Regular Duolingo without the ads and other possible interruptions in the learning process. Duolingo Max, on the other hand, is an AI-driven product that “provide language learners with conversation practice and in-depth explanations,” which comes in the form of roleplay to help learners practice conversation skills.
Type of app: Free (with available subscriptions)
Named after the monumental artifact that allowed scholars to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, Rosetta Stone aims to “tap into your brain’s innate ability to learn language” and turn it into your second nature. It is available for individuals, enterprises, schools, and is currently used by thousands of organizations and corporations worldwide.
Rosetta Stone is ideal for users who want to practice their speaking comprehension. Its speech recognition technology helps users perfect their accent, which is helpful when preparing for traveling or studying abroad. This unique feature, called TruAccent, is at the center of Rosetta Stone’s speaking-focused lessons and features. Its Dynamic Immersion method uses interactive and contextual lessons that helps learners speak confidently and go beyond memorization.
Rosetta Stone offers various levels of subscription, including a Lifetime tier that includes all courses of all 25 languages available.
Type of app: Paid
Mondly by educational publisher Pearson offers more than 30 language courses designed by experts and educators. It offers personalized review lessons, monthly challenges, and global rankings for more competitive users.
To keep track of progress, Mondly also provides users with statistics on how many hours they’ve spent on the application and their vocabulary level. For those who want to learn on the go, Mondly’s hands-free lessons use voice recognition so learners can go about shopping, exercising, or relaxing without touching their devices. Mondly also provides additional resources like grammar features and conjugation tables, which are aspects learners can find difficult to fully grasp, to speed up their learning progress
Aside from their Kids Version for language learning, Mondly also takes advantage of technology with Mondly AR and Mondly VR, which take digital language learning to the next level and provide a different kind of immersive learning experience, especially for those more inclined with using the latest developments in learning.
Type of app: Freemium
Walk the Talk
These are just a couple of language learning apps available online. There are dozens of other applications, offline materials, human tutors, and schools out there that can provide you with lessons and help you speak a new language. At the end of the day, however, the results of your language learning depend on you. There are many factors for choosing a language learning app, but once you find the perfect platform and medium, find ample time each day, preferably the same time, to learn your target language. Be consistent and create a study plan that will help you track your progress and your learning goals, which is especially important if you are about to study or work abroad.
It is never too late to learn a new language, especially when you take your classes seriously. With the right amount of studying and practicing, you will eventually be able to speak to other natives like you grew up in the same town.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.