Not long ago, learning a new language required enrolling in a class or listening to repeat-after-me tapes of foreign sentences. However, all that has changed. Now, aspiring polyglots have a wide range of apps at their disposal for improving their language skills. If gaining fluency in a new tongue is on your to-do list this year, check out these top apps for learning a new language.
Most linguists agree that immersion is the fastest way to learn a new language, and Mondly does an excellent job of replicating the type of experience language-learners might have while interacting in a foreign country. The app’s “Conversational Chatbot” features speech and object recognition across 33 languages. Plus, games and visual tools make the app one of the most fun options out there.
One of the oldest and most popular apps for language learning, Babbel features short lessons (each lasting around 10 to 15 minutes) and offers cross-platform functionality, so that you can use the app across multiple devices. The app also features speech recognition, which helps users perfect their pronunciation. Best of all, it is designed for people coming from multiple mother tongues. For example, it can recognize that a native French speaker and a native English speaker might have different approaches and grammatical strengths and weaknesses when learning Spanish.
Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur Unlimited app is a good option for serious students willing to pay a little for the tried-and-trusted Pimsleur method, which has been used for over 50 years. Lessons are broken down into 30-minute segments designed for daily study. They also offer digital flash cards, matching games, and role-playing conversational tools, all of which sync across multiple devices.
Duolingo is a super-popular free app with game-like language learning lessons that are split into grammatical and themed categories, from prepositions and adjectives to transportation and nature. It’s among the best free options out there, and offers a wide range of languages, including some not commonly found in other language-learning programs, such as Irish and Esperanto.
Rosetta Stone has long been a favorite among language learners for its language-learning software that eschews translation in favor of spaced repetition and immersion. While people have been using the software for decades, the newer app makes the program more accessible, with 24 languages and special tools such as a recording system that provides feedback using the app’s proprietary TruAccent technology.
HiNative works on the principles of shared economy (if you scratch my language-learning back, I’ll scratch yours). The app connects users from around the world who want to improve their language skills and pronunciation with native speakers who can answer questions and give pointers. It’s not only used by language students, but also by translators and proficient bilinguals who want to make sure what they’re saying or writing sounds appropriate to native ears.
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