The world is a wondrous place with so many countries and cultures to explore, but much is off-limits if you can’t speak the language. Having a second language will open doors when traveling, meeting new people, or sourcing new business opportunities.
Whether you want an exciting and enriching hobby, or simply want to travel with confidence, learning a language on your terms and at the right speed is important.Language learning apps and websites allow you to build vocabulary, grammar, accent, and fluency – all from the comfort of your smartphone or laptop. So, if you don't know your ''holas'' from your ''bonjours’’, then stick with this article and learn how to choose the right language learning app for you.
Why learn a second language?
Most of the world's population is bilingual, and many are multilingual. For many people, a second language not only broadens horizons, but it keeps the mind active and neurons fizzing.
Mastering a second language or more can slow down cognitive decline, improve memory, and boost creativity and multi-tasking skills. And as the planet continues to become ever more connected, there's a high demand for bilingual candidates in the job world too.
And absolutely anyone can take up a new language from tiny tots to seniors. It's never too early – or too late – to get started.
What’s your learning style?
These days learning a language is less draconian than it used to be. Now it's more about authentic, student-centered learning, focusing less on memorization of rules and more on creating real-life scenarios. From solo sessions to language coaches and traditional classes, the best way to learn a language and choose a language course provider is to know how you learn best.
Want to speak like a local? Or just need conversational words and phrases to make the most out of a holiday? Find a language learning app and style of learning you enjoy and that keeps you engaged. Determine what level of fluency you are, and where you want to be and go from there.
There’s a vast array of apps, interactive online resources, and video tutoring out there to help you find the best way to learn a language. We’ve covered some of the different methods and options below.
Comprehensive language learning classes
If you're serious about learning, like the structure of a traditional class setting but with the flexibility to study at your own pace, then a language school like Babbel or Rosetta Stone might be for you. Written and conversational themes expand your vocabulary, perfect grammar, and improve reading and writing skills. With a focus on speaking from the first lesson, you’ll fine-tune pronunciation and be able to chat like a local in no time.
Babbel offers 40 free classes and includes step by step courses grounded in real-world conversations, adjusted to the student’s level of knowledge. Learn through quick lessons, live online classes, videos, podcasts & more. There's speech recognition to practice, grammatical pointers, and cultural notes to boot.
Prefer goal-orientated classes? You could try an app like Bussu, great for users who like hitting a target. Sessions are organized around topics, and you can engage with native speakers across the world in real-time to master words faster. The app is free but there are fees to unlock certain features.
Pimsleur could be a good bet if learning on-the-go is your thing. Using a repetition method, it’s audio-based with native speakers interacting in mini-stories and real-life situations. Get busy with core lessons in reading and digital flashcard games. The Pimsleur method is equally effective with advanced students as well as total beginners.
Learn from native speakers
Prefer practicing with a real person? Verbalplanet and Italki might be the path to choose if you’re a social butterfly who loves learning as part of a team. They’re ideal if you want to check pronunciation and grammar with an expert. Conversation is key to practicing and improving fluency, so what better way to do it than with a local?
Verbalplanet provides qualified native-speaking tutors. Learn when and where you want with the flexibility of one-to-one classes via Skype. Dip in and out of quick sessions to brush up on current skills or go all-in with a course from scratch. You’re able to tailor-make lessons to work for the goals you want to achieve.
With Italki you can master a language while connecting with people around the world. They offer one-on-one lessons in over 150 languages, and personalized sessions mean you learn about dialects as well as culture. The free practice sessions with the learning community are an exciting bonus and Language Challenges keep you motivated.
Casual and fun language learning
If you already have a good grounding in a second language, but want to improve your vocab then there are immersive and fun ways to do it. Apps like Lingopie use TV and movies to immerse the learner in a language. Choose from hundreds of shows where you can click on subtitled words to see the translations instantly. There are kids’ TV shows too, to help start them on their way to language fluency.
Grammar is easily absorbed via the gamified approach of Duolingo and Mondly. Bite-sized lessons with Duolingo earn you points, unlock new levels, and make learning a daily habit. Lessons are personalized to ensure you learn at the right level and pace.
Mondly has more than 1000 language options to choose from, 50 topics and 41 real conversations to kick off your practice. Quick, daily lessons mean you stay on top of grammar and there’s a new free lesson each day. There are even Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality training sessions.
Duolingo, Lingopie and Mondly all have language apps for kids too. Why not learn together as a family? Children reap multiple benefits from learning a second language early, like strengthened cognitive skills and improved academic performance. Children who grow up learning to speak two languages are better at switching between tasks and multi-tasking.
Consistency is key
It can be daunting to speak a new language, particularly for the first time. But the more you speak, the quicker you’ll become fluent. It takes passion, motivation, and dedication to learn, so finding the right language learning app is crucial. Consistency is key to seeing progression. Decide on an attainable goal, find a language learning habit that fits your lifestyle, immerse yourself in the culture, and practice, practice, practice.
The pleasure and opportunity a second or third language offers are vast. It can lead to understanding more of the world, its heritage, and cultural riches. There’s an exciting planet out there to discover!
Check out Trustpilot reviews of the best language learning apps around. If you’ve already fallen in love with a language learning app, leave a review yourself for other aspiring linguists.
Trustpilot is a review platform that is open to all. The companies and profile pages referenced in this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not recommended, endorsed by, or representative of the views of Trustpilot. The Trustpilot companies linked in this post are expected to abide by Trustpilot’s Guidelines, but have not been reviewed for compliance.