Use One of These Apps to Help You Learn a New Language for Your Next Trip
Make Communicating That Much Easier
Learning a new language can be a daunting task, but even just learning a few words and phrases can greatly enrich your travel experience when visiting a new place. The following are some of the best language learning apps that will help you improve your language skills conveniently from your smart phone.
The language learning app I’ve personally used the most is Duolingo. It’s one of the most popular language learning apps out there and has been downloaded more than 100 million times. One of the aspects that helps Duolingo stand out above the rest is that there are courses available for those for whom English is not their first language, making the app accessible to even more people worldwide.
The app has many game-like features and awards users for logging in multiple days in a row. You can earn badges and compete for a spot on the leader board, helping you stay motivated to log in day after day and learn more language. The app is free, although there are some paid features.
It would be difficult to reach a high level of fluency with this app, but you can learn quite a lot — certainly plenty to help you along your way if you are just looking to pick up some new vocabulary for traveling.
Babbel is one of the best language learning apps out there, and as such to unlock most of the features you’ll have to pay. However, there’s a bit of free material for each of the 13 languages they offer, so you can give it a try before you buy.
The classes begin with a vocabulary lesson that includes pictures to help cement the words in your brain. From there, the words are presented in phrases and short, ability-appropriate dialogues to help you quickly gain skills needed for communication.
There are pop-ups to help you learn the finer points of grammar and even voice recognition software to help you really wow the locals with your pronunciation skills.
If you are looking to brush up on vocabulary while having fun, Memrise is a great option. They have courses based on almost any language you could hope to learn. You’ll even find several so-called languages that are completely invented by the community of Memrise users — a key into the fun-filled culture surrounding this app.
There are basic vocabulary lists and more exciting or unique ones. The fun of this app is that the developers have really done a nice job with the gamification aspects of the app. Students create funny memes to help you learn the vocabulary and everyone can take part in creating them.
The memes give you points in the app and help you advance through different levels in the hierarchy. Through a well-designed algorithm, you are introduced to new vocabulary and also repeat those you’ve already learned. The app uses the power of mnemonics to help you learn and many claim that these features as well as the fun ranking system help you really stay motivated to learn.
LinguaLift is for more serious language students who want to really focus on a language program with the help of a professional tutor. There’s something for every level of student with the focus being on beginners and intermediates.
There are grammar lessons, vocabulary, tools for learning new scripts and even interesting cultural insights. All along the way, the tutors help you with any questions you might have, provide extra resources and can even give graded assignments for those who want them. The course is conveniently broken up into small sections so you can study a little bit at a time and the lessons are tailored to your needs based on how you are progressing through the content.
While this is one of the more thorough language learning apps we’ve seen, the biggest downside is that the number of languages offered is quite small compared with other apps on our list. They currently offer Japanese, Russian and Hebrew, and plan to add French, Spanish and Mandarin soon.
Much of the thrill of learning a new language is being able to communicate with people from other cultures. If that’s what motivates you, then HelloTalk might be an app worth considering. It is designed to provide an opportunity for speaking practice between native speakers and language learners for various languages.
The interface is similar to popular messaging app WhatsApp, and uses both voice and text chat to communicate. There is a correction tool built in where you can correct each other’s messages turning the experience into something akin to a tutoring session.
There’s also a built-in translation tool if you are struggling with finding the right word. If you are really struggling to communicate, as a last-ditch effort you can even exchange doodles.
Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages
Stalwart of at-home language learning, Rosetta Stone also offers an app as part of their Dynamic Immersion method of teaching. The program has a variety of speaking-focused lessons and gets great ratings in the app store.
You can learn anywhere with short, 10-minute lessons that are available both on and offline. Expect to pay more for Rosetta Stone than the rest of the apps on the list, but you’ll have a robust language learning experience that exceeds many others.
A language learning app built with travelers in mind, TripLingo is a great app to download for use during your trip rather than just for learning before you go. The app was designed to teach you the language in the real way that people speak rather than a formal textbook way of speaking. Thus, the handy “slang slider” allows you to choose the level of formality you’d like to use.
You will find not only standard vocab practice and basic learning lessons, but also a built-in voice translator that will take your spoken English and translate it into the target language. If you really hit a wall, you can call a real human translator to help you out. These special features are only available in the paid version, but the free version still has some neat features that are worth spending time with.