Do you want to learn a second language? There is an app (actually several) for that. Whether you are planning an exciting trip abroad or want to spend your free time, a language app can help you build your vocabulary, develop proper grammar, and ultimately master fluency through lessons that are easy to digest, all from the comfort of your own. or .
The best language learning apps are inexpensive too, especially compared to formal education or tutoring with a language expert. Many have, which is key to ensuring proper pronunciation. Others offer multiple language options, which is ideal when you want to learn multiple languages.
Here are the top 10 language learning apps that make it easy for you to learn a language at your own pace. You’ll sound like a native speaker in no time!
Babbel / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
I found that Babbel is the closest thing to a foreign language course that you would see in an online school curriculum. The minimalist design of the Babbel app helps prevent a new language (French to me) from looking overwhelming, without making it boring. Each lesson takes you through the translations and includes variations of the word or phrase, pictures, and whether it is formal or informal. If you ask you to spell a phrase, the letters are included.
You can also see the new words you are learning used in common conversations, listen to them (if you choose to have audio turned on), repeat the phrases, and learn more about the verb groups. The 15-minute language lessons are easy to incorporate into your day, whether it’s on your daily commute, before bed, or during your lunch break. The My Activity module allows you to keep track of all your progress.
Babbel is free or you can subscribe to a package. A three-month subscription costs $ 27, six months costs $ 46, and a year costs $ 75.
Mondly / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
Like Drops, Mondly is a fun and colorful app that has multiple features to take advantage of even if you are not a Premium subscriber. I tried Hungarian for beginners in this app and liked how it offered to show you different conjugations if you tapped on the verbs. The app includes pictures, translations, and hearing aids to help with your specific learning style.
The instructor also pronounces the words and phrases in a rather melodic way that made it easy for me to remember them (even after trying different languages in different apps).
On top of that, Mondly is offering a huge discount on its Premium features for the next five days. Lifetime access to Premium (which includes all 41 languages) is typically $ 2,000 a year, but has been reduced to $ 90. If you subscribe to Premium, you will also have access to special lessons for children.
Duolingo / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
As a regular Duolingo user, I enjoy the app’s colorful interface and short game-like exercises. The app doesn’t restrict the number of languages you can try to learn at the same time (personally, I think two is a good maximum if you want to retain something). I use Duolingo to practice Spanish and German.
To make sure you don’t get rusty on the basics, even if you’ve “mastered” a skill upon reaching a higher level, the skill can still “break” if you don’t constantly review it. Practice the skill again and it will repair itself.
I like Duolingo’s easy-to-use design and “streak” feature, which motivates you to keep going by tracking the number of days you’ve reached your point goal. In the app, you can access resources like Duolingo Stories, which are short audio stories that allow you to check your comprehension skills as you go. I also subscribe to Premium for $ 7 a month, which includes an ad-free experience, downloadable lessons, and unlimited “health.”
Memrise / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
One of my favorite parts of Memrise is the app’s use of short videos to show how real locals express different phrases in conversation. I tried the French course, and the first lesson allowed me to listen to the tone of voice and casual pronunciation, as well as showing me the literal translation of the phrase and explaining its use of gender. The application also helps you to detect patterns in the language so that it is easier to improve your skills.
Some lessons are available for free every day, but you can tap Update in the app and choose between a monthly subscription ($ 9 / month), an annual subscription ($ 7.50 / month), or a one-time payment of $ 140 for lifetime access.
Busuu / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
When you register with Busuu, you select the language you want to learn, and the application helps you determine how advanced you are with it, why you want to learn it and at what level. From there, you set a daily study goal, and if you subscribe to the premium plan, create a study plan for you to reach your goal by a set date. For example, Busuu says that if I study three times a week for 10 minutes a day, I will be fairly fluent in my chosen language in about eight months.
The premium costs about $ 6 per month for a year. Even without premium, Busuu offered valuable tools if you want to learn a language. There is also a Premium Plus option for about $ 7 per month for additional features.
I tried the Italian with Busuu and liked the clean and bright design of the app. Busuu also offers helpful reminders: the second time I logged in, it reminded me of “weak words” that I needed to brush up on to improve my vocabulary. In addition to hearing a phrase along with a photo of the corresponding action, Busuu included helpful vocabulary tips (like “ciao” can mean “hello” or “goodbye”).
Lyric / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
If you listen to a song long enough, you will learn all the words through repetition, even if they are in a different language. But how do you find out what they mean? This is where the Lirica app comes in. This app is unique in the way it approaches the teaching of Spanish and German. Instead of traditional teaching methods for learning a language, Lirica uses popular music from Latin and reggaeton artists to help you learn the language and grammar. In addition to learning the language, you also immerse yourself in the culture behind it. The app also includes data about the artist as you learn.
Lirica has a one-week free trial and then costs around $ 4 per month. For now, the app only offers Spanish and German, but its website says it plans to add more languages in the future.
Drops / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
Tried Greek in the Drops app. The fun and colorful design of the app definitely made the language (which has its own alphabet) less intimidating. The app shows users every word in the Greek alphabet and the English alphabet, and it says the word and displays a picture of it. Drops is constantly adding new languages, most recently the app brought Ainu, an indigenous Japanese language.
If you don’t subscribe to the $ 10 per month premium, you have to wait 10 hours to access another lesson, but you can check your stats after completing the lesson (correct answers, incorrect answers, and words learned) and tap on the words. you have learned to hear them pronounced again (and see them written in the Greek alphabet). This can give you a head start when your next lesson begins.
Netflix / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
Although not technically an app, the free Language Learning with Netflix Chrome extension can come in handy on your way to becoming multilingual. Install the extension and click the icon to launch the Movie & TV Show Options Catalog. However, you do need a Netflix subscription.
Once you start the catalog, you can choose from hundreds of titles that use movies on Netflix to help teach different languages. For example, if you want to work in your Spanish, select the language from the drop-down menu, along with the country where you are using Netflix. If you are looking in the US, the extension generates 306 titles. To watch one of the movies, just click the red “Watch on Netflix” button. Depending on the language you want to learn, you may have fewer titles to choose from.
As the series or movie plays, two sets of subtitles are displayed at the bottom of the screen. One group is your mother tongue and the other is the one you want to learn. The words pop out as they are spoken, like a long song at karaoke. You can listen to dialogue phrase-by-phrase, pause and play as needed, access a built-in dictionary, and more.
Pimsleur is an application that offers 51 languages to learn, but delivers the information in what is basically the form of a podcast. Basically, you will choose the language you want to learn and start a 30 minute listening lesson (downloadable and compatible with Alexa). The app also has a driving mode, so you can improve your language skills during long trips without looking at a screen.
You get a free seven-day trial. An audio-only subscription costs $ 15 a month, while a Premium subscription, which includes the 12 best-selling languages, costs $ 20 a month. Features include reading lessons, role-play challenges, and digital cards.
Rosetta Stone / Screenshot by Shelby Brown / CNET
Perhaps the best-known language learning service, Rosetta Stone has come a long way since it began in the 90’s. My parents still have a box of discs for learning Spanish somewhere in their house. Now it’s a lot easier with the Rosetta Stone app, but you still need at least 30 minutes to complete a core lesson.
I tried Rosetta Stone’s first Irish lesson, which was primarily aural with pictures, although there are ways to customize the app based on your learning preferences. The lesson started off quite challenging, especially since I was completely new to the Irish language. But it got easier as it went on.
The iOS app received an update last year that brought augmented reality into the mix. This allows for searching and talking, which is challenging scavenger hunt style. Point your phone’s camera at an object and get a translation in the language you are learning.
Rosetta Stone has a variety of subscription options, depending on the language; for example, Spanish costs $ 36 for three months, $ 96 for one year, or $ 179 for unlimited lifetime access to all of your languages.