Learning a new language can be rewarding and challenging at any juncture in life. The five apps below can make the time you spend on language acquisition more engaging, productive and fun.
Busuu has over 40 million users, many of whom also function as teachers for their peers on the site. Users put their native language skills to use by correcting input from those learning a language. For beginners, flash-card-type exercises are available and for more advanced learners, topical lessons with writing, dialogue, and recorded audio activities are introduced. As you learn, you can submit and answer questions with native speakers.
The basic app is free but to unlock the more interactive features costs r$17 per month. This gives you access to PDFs and videos. With Busuu, you can learn French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic and Chinese. Busuu also produces mini travel courses that are very helpful if you are planning a trip and don’t have a lot of time to prepare.
Duolingo is a very interactive app that is highly popular with over 100 million users. It successfully merges the worlds of online school and game as it drills users in writing, reading, speaking and listening. Duolingo offers charming graphics, helpful color photos, optional reminders to study, a point and bonus system and a social feature that allows you to connect with an online community while you progress.
“An ‘immersion’ section allows you to read real-world articles while helping to translate them,” the Huffington Post reported. Many of Duolingo’s courses were designed by native speakers and it caters to users of all first languages (not only English). Duolingo offers 81 courses, including in Spanish, French, Dutch, Irish, Danish, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Swedish.
Babbel offers language lessons in digestible but rich 10 to 15-minute lessons. The first lesson is free but subsequent learning content costs between $5 and $10 a month. In this app, you will be introduced to useful words and phrases and asked to place them in sentences, speak them and spell them. Lessons in grammar range from beginning to advanced and are reinforced in mock conversations. Digital Trends explained, “the nice thing with Babbel is that it focuses on conversational learning and it explains grammar rules as you progress.” If you have a paid membership, you can download lessons to work on offline. You can learn English, German, Italian, Polish, Indonesian, Dutch, Brazilian Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian on Babbel.
“aimed to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the potential stress of real-time conversation. Learners can find native speakers and converse with them using a WhatsApp-like chat with voice and text messages.”
Practicing engaging in actual, live conversation is a powerful way to become acquainted with and more comfortable with using a new language. To make the speaking or texting process easier, HelloTalk offers an integrated translation and text-to-voice option, which can help with difficult pronunciation and spelling challenges.
Native speakers can correct the messages of their partner as the interaction occurs. If you link up with a user who also wants to learn your native language as well, the exchange can be particularly useful. You can seek out a conversation based on you preferred language and duration.
HelloTalk is free and is available in over 100 languages and you can save and return to your favorite interactions. A doodling feature is available for those with an artistic leaning or for those moments when you really can’t find the right word in your new language.
Living Language is an online learning tool and app that produces a wide variety of educational options, including puzzles, quizzes, interactive games, flash cards and native speaker e-tutoring, focusing on audio conversations, vocabulary and grammar lessons, and cultural knowledge. The Living Language website describes their programs as “effective, flexible and affordable.” Course length and cost vary and they teach English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi and many other languages. Living Language also includes instruction in American Sign Language and offers courses with real-world, day-to-day applications like “Spanish on the Job.” The Huffington Post explained that Living Language also offers a “free resources section” with a “variety of language-specific PDFs that are useful to travelers or anyone looking to build vocabulary in a language they’ve already studied.”
Good Luck! Buena suerte! Zorte on! Mafuna abwino! Succes! Bonne chance! Viel Glück!
Written by Julia Travers
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