Like everything else on your To-Do list, there’s an app for learning foreign languages. We sorted through the top language apps to help you find the one that best matches your style of learning, time constraints and budget. Et voila!
BABBEL claims to be the world’s first language learning app. Featuring 14 languages, it provides audio and dialogues with native speakers, with no ads and a straight-forward subscription plan. Babbel has a “method,” each lesson builds upon the next. The emphasis is on everyday conversation. The first lesson is free. After that, costs range from $6.95 to $12.95 per month, with a 20-day money back guarantee.
BUSUU is the app equivalent of pen pals. A native speaker will evaluate your speaking exercises in exchange for you evaluating their English. With 70 million users around the world, you will easily find a partner. However, they only provide courses in 12 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic. If you want to learn Hebrew, Greek, Dutch or Swedish you’ll have to look elsewhere.
There’s added value in learning from a native speaker. They will clue you into pronunciations and usage not found in classroom learning. Some content is free, but unlimited exchanges with foreign students is by subscription. $8 a month or $45 a year. C’mon. You spend more than that on your nails.
DUOLINGO is rated the best free language app. It is the only one without a premium subscription model, leaving you free to learn 23 languages at your own pace, including Hebrew, Greek, Swedish and Dutch. You learn vocabulary, grammar, and usage simultaneously, with illustrated flashcards and fill-in-the-blank exercises. Did we mention it is FREE?
LINGOCI is not an actual app and it’s pricey. Think of it as Match.com for meeting native speakers. It’s designed for people who prefer to learn through an immersive experience rather than repetition and lessons. They offer a free 30-minute trial but packages of ten 55-minute lessons are $240. This is a good deal for serious participants who have the time, dedication and budget to invest in weekly sessions.
MEMRISE is all about fun and gamification. Think of it as online flashcards designed to challenge your foreign language vocabulary. Earning, revising and creating memes is a source of points that help you advance in the Memrise hierarchy of other users. The spaced repetition algorithm calculates when and how often you should review each word and the app will send you reminders. You can get in the door for free, but the Premium Plan costs $9 per month or $59 per year. Not a gamer? Move on.
HELLO TALK dubs itself the first Language Exchange Social Networking App in the world. You communicate via text, voice or video with your international language mates. Their voice-to-text and text-to-voice option circumvents the difficulty of making yourself understood and vice versa. It’s also a translator. It converts your English sentence into the language you wish to learn.
Just one problem. There is no structure. Great if you already know the basics and want to improve your accent but not for the beginner. They claim to support 150 languages. Urdu and Albanian spoken here!
As the saying goes, talk is cheap. There’s no charge for gabbing with native speakers. But that freebie comes with annoying ads. To get rid of the ads, you need a VIP membership, which costs $6.99 per month, or $45.99 per year. There’s also a lifetime membership for $175.00. VIP membership includes unlimited translation which will be helpful when you’re bargain hunting in Kuala Lumpur.
DROPS aims to help you learn one of 19 languages in five minute blocks per day. This can be liberating for multi-taskers and/or frustrating for those who prefer larger chunks of practice. The emphasis is on building vocabulary, skipping grammar, pronunciation and usage. No quizzes or opportunities to improve your speaking ability. Unlimited time is only $48 per year, but it doesn’t increase the pace of those five-minute mini lessons.
Rosetta Stone is the motherlode of online language learning. There is no real-life interaction with native speakers, but it’s a great resource to compliment any app you may use. It costs around $200 per year, but if you’ve got a library card, you may be able to access it for free via your library’s online portal.
Before signing up, make sure the app offers the language(or two) you wish to learn. Then try the free introductory offer to see which app matches your learning style, time schedule and budget.