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10 Best Language-Learning Apps

March 04, 2021

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Today’s language apps may be the best way to learn a language. And apps during COVID are more indispensable than ever. But which should you choose? Let’s look at the top choices to see which language-learning app is right for you.

Duolingo for a Game Like Experience

One of the world's top language-learning apps is also one of the most colorful, with Duolingo's cheerful green owl leading you through learning exercises that are more like games than lessons. Earn points and virtual currency as you complete word matches and quizzes based on short stories. The free version has lots to keep you going, and there's an ad-free paid version that offers lessons offline.

Memrise for a Culture Trip

Most folks like Memrise for its short videos with native speakers in their native lands, giving you an authentic cultural experience and the benefit of hearing pronunciation from locals. Then the spoken words are repeated and put into a written transcript for you to type back. Traditional memorization techniques and an algorithm are used to guide and track your progress. Plus, you earn points that you can compare against other users.

Babbel Keeps it Bite-Sized

Babbel likes things short and to the point, with lessons running about ten to 15 minutes each. Begin with a three-minute test to gauge your current language level. Then it's on to quick conversation-based exercises that rely on repetition and focus on situations you might encounter while traveling. Babbel is less about getting the grammar perfect and more about giving you a way to navigate real-world situations.

Rosetta Stone: Old School for the Modern Age

A language app that predates the invention of the smartphone, Rosetta Stone has been helping people learn languages for nearly three decades. Their TruAccent speech recognition is great for perfecting pronunciation. And while Rosetta still features its trademark immersion, without the use of your native language, they've gone high-tech with their augmented reality Seek and Speak scavenger hunt—Pokémon GO-style with translations for the objects captured by your phone's camera.

Busuu for a Classroom Experience

This app feels close to what many of us would expect a language class at a university to be like. And Busuu claims that 22 hours using the app gives you the equivalent of one semester of language study at a college. Using Busuu's Study Plan you can set goals while learning vocabulary and grammar through writing, listening, and speaking exercises. Busuu also offers the chance to get feedback on what you've learned from native speakers.

Drops Goes for the Quick Fix

If you want your language lessons in small doses—like five-minutes small—Drops may be perfect for you. With a focus on short phrases and the aid of mnemonic imagery, lighting-fast rounds teach basics like nature, animals, food, and drinks. Use the offline Travel Talk feature to pick up phrases that could come in handy while traveling such as "Where is the bathroom?" The free version makes you wait ten hours between lessons, but there's a paid version for unlimited use.

Mondly to Go Global

It's no wonder why this app has more than 50 million users all across the globe; Mondly offers over 30 languages and the ability to learn from your native language instead of having to use English as a base. That makes it optimal for non-English speakers. Enjoy cutting-edge speech recognition as you go through interactive lessons and games designed to teach you thousands of words and phrases. Plus, there's a kids' version!

Pimsleur for Hands-Free Learning

Similar to a podcast, Pimsleur delivers 30-minute audio lessons. And adds in a Driving Mode that allows you to answer questions and practice vocabulary out loud without having to look at the screen. For on-screen learning, you can turn to Pimsleur's games, roleplaying exercises, and digital flashcards, all with a focus on conversational learning.

Tandem to Team Up with Others

More like a social network than a traditional app, Tandem takes an unconventional approach to language learning by partnering up different users. Partners, often in different countries, can then text, or record audio or video to send to each other, getting feedback on usage and pronunciation. Tandem also gives you the option to get one-on-one instruction from professionals.

Mango at Your Own Speed

Originally designed for businesses and libraries, Mango takes a foundational approach that focuses on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation with interactive reading and listening exercises. In 70 languages! And on your own schedule with Mango's Jump Back In feature that lets you put your lesson on pause and return to it later. Learn at your own pace with a review system that monitors your progress and engagement.

Online learning has never been easier. With today’s awesome apps, a great way to learn a new language is just a download away!

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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