I know from experience – the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.
But immersion isn’t always possible, so many people rely on language learning apps for their study time.
The good news is that there are plenty of apps out there that can help you achieve your goals and stay motivated along the way. To find out which ones work best for different types of learners, I put them to the test! Here’s what I found.
Note: This article is based entirely on my personal research and experience. Your mileage may vary.
What are the best language learning apps?
There are a number of different language learning apps available, and it can be difficult to decide which one to choose. In short, how “good” a language app is going to be will depend greatly on your target language, your learning style, and how much time and dedication you put into practicing speaking the foreign language.
In general as I put this list together, here are the factors I considered
- Language options – Is the app built for just one language, or are multiple languages offered, and how many?
- Language support – Are there resources to support your language studies beyond the mobile apps?
- Interactive lessons – Good lessons should go beyond simply memorizing words and phrases, and should be able to give you feedback on your learning progress.
- Learning method – are the language lessons geared toward visual learners, auditory, verbal, social, etc.
- Cost – Options range from completely free to customized speaking practice with professional tutors
- Other unique features
Here are eleven of the best language learning apps arranged by learning style:
Best for Reading: Beelinguapp
Beelinguapp is unique because it emphasizes long-form reading. These aspects of learning a new language are often ignored in free software applications. The Beelinguapp filter is available for a user who has the ability to pick the best text that meets your skill set, if you are interested in the subject you really like. Beelinguapp also uses listening skills, since each book includes the audio files containing the text read by a native. If you get stumped, you can read the translated material. This is a great way to learn because you can read in your language, while being in another one.
Beelinguapp has a free version and a paid version. The free version offers a generous amount of content, enough that you can get a sense for how the app works and use it comfortably. There are a variety of paid options which eliminate ads and unlock more lessons and extra content – these include one-time purchase options for $20-25 or a monthly subscription at approximately $2/mo.
Beelinguapp focuses mainly on reading comprehension, but leans toward longer texts rather than a quick text snack or a snippet. It is useful but Beelinguapp is not a standalone app. This is no flashcard or drill tool that will teach your speech or corrections. This app will be useful unless you have already learned the language or use the other app (it pairs beautifully with apps like Babbel and Memrise, for example). It allows you to browse for texts of interest and displays that text on a separate display in a similar English text. You can read it while scanning your document.
Best for Listening through Music: Lirica
Want to learn vocabulary through song?
Lirica is a great app for learning foreign languages through music. It focuses on teaching Spanish, German, and English through songs, with each song assigned a level of difficulty and a specific learning goal. This software is surprisingly helpful in improving recall and comprehension, and you end up
Most people are naturally enthusiastic about music, so if you can tap into that enthusiasm for language learning you’ll have a powerful combo. But how can you learn languages musically using common music to learn vocabulary? This idea was created by Lirica and leveraged the fact that one can immerse themselves in good music, regardless of the language they are written in. Lirica exercises you using hits songs and helps you to learn cultural vocabulary and grammar along the way. The current Lirica content is from artists such as Enrique Iglesias or the Shakira. Content is added continually.
After the 7-day free trial, the price is on a subscription basis at $8.49/mo, 19.99/quarter, or 24.99/year.
Best for Gamification: Duolingo
It’s like a game. Think of the time you’ve spent playing video games and apply those skills to learning a language.
DuoLingo is free for all languages that support the core features. This app provides 37 choices and offers unique options. If Polish doesn’t seem interesting, get started on Navajo / Esperanto or even Klingons. There is an interactive lesson system that encourages the gamer to go back to older materials to practice and strengthen their skills. The design is as simple as can be, and users should no longer have any trouble learning words. The social aspect of competing with friends and the general public makes this app even more fun to use.
Duolingo focuses primarily on vocab and key phrases necessary to learn a language. You start by taking a placement test and then you continue by selecting new modules (free lessons) to “play”. Your overall progress and daily streak can be shared with friends on a leaderboard, which helps keep you engaged if you add friends.
As time passes, you have to replay the old modules and get correct answers to maintain your ranking. In this regard, Duolingo acts as a mini-SRS tool.
The grammar lessons are broken down into modules that each take just a few minutes to complete. The mobile app has a strong design focus and visually, is beautiful to look at. Though you won’t find as many comprehension exercises or practice your writing skills, this free option is one of the best free language learning apps to start with, and is approachable if you’re a complete beginner.
Best for Visual Learners: Memrise
Memrise is a platform that offers free language courses with a twist. The games and illustration sets will help the visual learner pick up on a new language faster. You can also learn languages via comic strips, memes, or focused lessons. This app comes in paid versions that have more backgrounds, points, and
Memrise is a language learning app that can help you learn new words quickly. The app has a lesson structure that makes it easy for you to learn and remember by associating words with visual aids, like pictures or memes. Some of the content is generated by other users so quality is not always guaranteed depending on the compilation you’ve selected.
Memrise is unique from the different apps in this list in that it is the closest to being a spaced repetition system (SRS). This means that the algorithm takes the info from when you’ve successfully given correct answers vs incorrect answers and estimates how long it will be before you are likely to forget that word. Then you will be quizzed on that word prior to that date to improve your recall ability. Multiple apps incorporate features that tests you on vocab that you’ve gotten wrong in the past, however Memrise focuses on improving your ability to recall from your long-term memory.
Memrise helps you understand real world scenarios without involving you with flashcards or questions. Instead, Memrise lessons focuses on video with real-world scenarios with native speakers by using “Learn with locals”. This helps understand the language spoken by the person speaking the spoken word, not just by the speaker. The speaker’s accent is flat or neutral. You can also assess your own speech ability using the Pronouncing Mode. There are 22 different languages available for a free plan. Memerise can be installed via the app on your smartphone.
Memrise has plans costing $8.49/mo, $59/year, or $119.99 for lifetime access.
Best Preparation Prior to Immersion: Rosetta Stone
If you are planning to move to Bolivia and need a program for learning Spanish before you leave, Rosetta Stone may just be the best language learning app for you.
Focusing on practical vocabulary and basic speaking ability, this app has all the features to get you a handle on the lifestyle language ability you will need to perform basic tasks in your new surroundings without being tied to Google Translate.
Although not quite as old as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone remains one of oldest and most popular language options for language learners. This longevity indicates its effectiveness. The new version has a number of different modes including an instructional style that mimics learning immersed in a foreign culture without a basic knowledge of English, such as by comparing spoken words with images on a screen on. After a certain level is achieved, you may be offered live streaming classes by tutors. These are rather expensive, though.
[I would add a little more information here, such as Rosetta Stone’s “Success in 3” approach and how their new program is going to be only online.]
Rosetta Stone offers translations of some words, but they’re limited. This isn’t a huge drawback since the app is designed for practical usage rather than vocabulary building. However, if you are more interested in the latter, check out Duolingo.
Rosetta Stone is available on PC in both online and downloadable format, or you can download the Rosetta Stone app on your mobile device.
The price for lifetime access to unlimited languages (they currently offer 25 languages), or the price for a 3-month subscription is $35.97 and for a 12-month subscription is $119.88.
Best for General Vocabulary: Busuuu
Busuu makes a good starting point for learning basic vocabulary in a structured way that isn’t boring. The free app has a course you can take to learn sequentially or repeat yourself in a different way. The exercise involves reading, listening to common words, then working on some exercise exercises so that you repeat the lessons learned. While there is plenty of content available to learners for free in the paid app, you can upgrade to a paid account if you want access to all languages.
This is another popular free language learning app that helps users learn both romance and non-romance languages. It has great lessons for beginners, and it also includes access to native speakers that can help learners practice their speaking skills. However, Duolingo is much more fun for advanced speakers to work through. So keep this in mind if you want to learn a second language or are simply reviewing flashcards.
There is a premium version available for Busuu that offers more features and access to all of the languages offered on the app. If you’re serious about learning a language, upgrading to the premium account is definitely worth it, as there’s a lot of content to go through. However, if you’re simply interested in learning a few words at a time and seeing what kinds of lessons are offered for free, Busuu is definitely the right choice.
It makes it easy to get into flashcard-style language learning apps that can offer the basics without being overwhelming. Although there’s a free version of the app, it’s a good idea to upgrade to a paid plan to get access to all of Busuu’s features. This way you can use the lessons available and not feel limited by how much progress you make.
Busuu is owned by Chegg and the language instruction has been developed by McGraw-Hill, so you know you’re getting quality lessons. If you want to plunge into learning a language and want a bit more depth than Duolingo offers, Busuu is the right choice for you.
There are two tiers of premium memberships. You can subscribe monthly for about $12/mo or annually for about $90.
Best for Statistically-Relevant Vocab: Speakly
Prices are based on lifetime availability in e.g. Spanish, English, French, Italian, French and Estonian. There are no prerequisites for a crash course in immersion; try speaking instead. The app aims to educate you on about 4,000 statistically useful words in common conversations with a target audience — therefore, the words will vary depending upon whether you use English or French. Speakly challenges you to talk to an onsite native speaker and coach you in your performance once you’re good at the language. This is the same way you learned your native language, so give it a try.
Speakly provides thorough vocab lessons, tests and games. Speakly conveniently offers a look at how much time you spend learning per day on this app as well as your progress on several other metrics.
Best for Speaking: Pimsleur
One of my favorite tools, this is a popular paid language learning app that focuses on audio lessons. Pimsleur offers a variety of languages, and it also includes useful tips for learners who want to improve their pronunciation skills.
Pimsleur is the largest language learning program on the market – lessons date back to cassettes and cds. It is in fact primarily a listening experience, you could consider that learning languages is like listening to an interview. The experience has been modernized, enabling you to take Pimsleur lessons via smartphones. In Pimsleur you should follow instructions very carefully, including taking lessons every day and repeating the phrase in response to the prompt from precise native speakers.
Pricing is on a month-by-month subscription basis. When you sign up, you pick a target language to focus on however you are allowed to learn unlimited languages from those that are offered.
The app teaches conversation skills and comprehension skills by having you audibly respond to the audio lessons of common conversations. Words are deconstructed and played back to you from the last syllable to the first, so that your ear learns the sounds of the language, and you are then able to self-correct pronunciation and develop a native speaker accent.
Pimsleur costs $14.95/mo.
Best for Interactivity: HelloTalk
Occasionally when learning a language the user must interact with a real language. HelloTalk will allow this.
HelloTalk is a free language exchange where you can interact with native speakers. This app solves the problem of not having access to native speakers of foreign languages for people who aren’t immersed.
The mobile app will ask you what language is being studied and what language you speak. Then there are suggestions of others who use the app who might be good companions for chatting. The feed has a Facebook-like format for other people posting status updates, photos etc. So you can learn a few ways to communicate with real people. If you are not comfortable talking to anyone individually, you can always look at the feed. The application also contains a language section in which you learn what you understand using interactive games and exercises.
HelloTalk is a very active and dynamic app where many cultures can interact with each other and practice their languages.
Cost: App is free and then a VIP membership is $13/mo or $80/yr. You can also opt to make a one-time purchase of $160 for lifetime access.
Best for Custom Study Sets: Quizlet
Some learners have to use language in some way to do a particular job like in a business. You may need to focus if you learn something that helps your language. Quizzlet is a good app. Quizlet is not technically an educational application, but is primarily a flash-card application. You can make a vocabulary list with translations in your native language. Many people use Quizlet to learn a few languages, however there are built in.
Best for Drilling: 50 languages
Learning new alphabets and numbers is repeated. The 50 languages app is the easiest way to do your research. Within this app you’ll find dozens of other features including vocabulary sets about animals, sports, restraining, body parts, etc. It lets you learn with the help of a flashcard, a quiz or an interactive exercise. You will also receive written vocabulary images as well as audio files for your learning. The app has no specific learning paths you can follow or methods to track words you know or words you do not know. It is surprisingly accurate if it was a free app. But there’s advertising in this case.
Are alternatives worth considering?
This article compares 10 language learning apps that have become popular among users in the market. Each of them offers its own way of learning languages. Excellent feedback by users. This list of 10 certainly doesn’t represent all of them, and a variety of other apps can also be considered. Other common language-learning apps include: Mondly: unlike many apps, Mondly allows for native use. TripLingo : It’s a great travel app. Tell the app what you want. It’ll help you find what you need.
Why is there no single-language app included?
I only considered apps that have more than one language. This makes the advice more general and relevant to many users. If we included single-language apps we could get hundreds of suggestions. JapanesePod101 comes to mind. This free program can be purchased for a fee, but only teaches Japanese language. Chinese language learning users swear by ChinaSkill, an interactive game aimed largely on beginners. In the past few years we have seen few good, free learning tools such as Lifeprint.com or ASLU.
Why use a language app?
There are many reasons why you might want to pick up another language. Maybe you’re planning on traveling to a foreign country, or maybe you just want to be able to communicate with more people. Whatever your reason may be, using a language learning app can be a great way to improve your language skills.
Language learning apps are convenient and portable, which makes them perfect for busy people who don’t have time to go to classes or meet with a tutor. They also tend to be affordable, and many of them offer free trial periods so you can test them out before you decide whether or not to buy them.
Finally, language learning apps are fun and engaging, which means you’ll be more likely to stick with them and improve your skills. Here are some of the best language learning apps on the market, so you can improve your language skills no matter what your reason for wanting to learn is.
The pros and cons of using an app for language learning
When it comes to language learning, there are a few different options available to you. You can attend a class at a language school, take private lessons, or use an app on your phone or computer. Each of these options has its own pros and cons.
Attending a class at a language school is a great way to learn another language. You will have the opportunity to learn from a professional teacher, and you will be able to practice your new skills with other people in the class. However, classes can be expensive, and you may not have enough time to attend all of the classes you want.
Taking private lessons is another option for learning a language. This option is more expensive than attending a class, but it also has more advantages. For example, you can learn any time that fits into your schedule, and you won’t have to wait for the next class in order to practice your skills. On the other hand, private lessons are usually even more expensive than attending a class at a language school.
An app on your phone or computer is another option for learning a new language. These apps are convenient and easy to use, but they don’t usually offer much support. For example, you may not be able to ask questions or interact with other users in any way. This ultimately means that the app won’t teach you anything beyond basic vocabulary.
Do language apps really work?
In short, the language app provides a perfect starting point for learning a language, mainly those that are far more diverse than the language learner is familiar with. For languages with different writing systems such as Japanese, Russian, or Korea, applications may be a good way to start learning.
Tips on what not to do when trying to learn a new language with an app or program (e.g., don’t just listen passively)
When you’re using an app or program, it’s important to be mindful of how you’re using it. Here are some tips on what not to do:
- Don’t just listen passively – you need to be actively engaged in the learning process if you want to see results.
- Don’t use the app or program as a substitute for actually speaking with people in the language you’re learning.
- Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see results immediately – give yourself time and be persistent.
- Don’t limit your learning to the app or program – make use of other resources, such as textbooks, audio recordings, and native speakers.
- Best Final Final Final Final Last Tip – Don’t get so hung up on what you’re not learning that you forget all the things you are! Use your time effectively instead of dwelling on wasted time, and keep focused on what you can do now and in the future.
An app or program can be a great resource for learning a new language, but it’s important that you use them as such. The best language learning apps are those that offer a personalized approach, meaning they grow with you and your skill level. They’re also ones that don’t just teach vocabulary words but phrases as well. For the most part though, these types of programs will only be useful if you use them regularly so it’s important to commit to using one on a regular basis or risk wasting time and money by abandoning it after a few days. It may take some trial and error before finding an app or program that is perfect for you but we’ve given plenty of tips in this post about what not to do when trying to learn a new language with an app or program (e.g., don’t just listen passively) so you can save yourself time and energy.