Traditionally, learning a foreign language relied on textbooks, tutors and big commitments - but now all you need is your smartphone. There are many language teaching apps, ranging from those with a traditional method to learning, to other more unique approaches. There is something for everyone, allowing you to learn at your own pace and style.
Here are our top five picks for apps that will help you learn a new language:
Drops – available on IOS and Android – Free and Paid Versions
Drops is one of the more unique apps to learn with. It uses fast-paced word games with mnemonic images to help you learn new vocabulary. They offer over 30 different languages and most of the app features are free. The colourful and well-illustrated approach provides a more playful way to learn without compromising on content. After each session they provide a detailed report with your daily progress and all the words you've learned. This fun, free app might be just what you need to start your language journey.
Duolingo - available on IOS and Android – Free and Paid Versions
A crowd favourite, Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps you can download. The free version of the app is extensive, meaning even without a paid membership you can go a long way in your learning. The casual and playful approach allows you to relax and focus on learning. The variety of difficulty levels means there's something for everyone and the competitive aspect of the leader boards adds an extra challenge. They offer over 30 languages which you can learn simultaneously, allowing you to get stuck in and grow your repertoire.
Google Translate - available on IOS and Android – Free
Google Translate is a little different to others on this list as it isn't actually a teaching app. However, we have added it to the list because it is a useful tool to support your language learning. Google translate allows you to type in words and phrases, scan using your camera or even hold a bilingual conversation through the app. This app allows you to quickly check words you're unsure of and look up phrases you may need to help support your learning.
Tandem - available on IOS - Free and Paid Versions
Tandem works differently to the other apps on this list as it allows you to talk to real native speakers. You create a profile with some brief information about yourself and the language that you natively speak, then the app allows you to match with people who speak the language you're learning, who also want to learn your native language. You can message, call or video chat through the app so you don't need to talk to anyone via an outside social network. Within the chat you can correct words in messages to help teach your partner, and you can directly translate messages you don't understand through the app. With the paid version you can find other Tandem users near you and remove all ads; there is also the option to hire tutors. The best way to learn a language is immersion, and Tandem aims to provide that.
Busuu - available on IOS and Android – Free and Paid Versions
Busuu brings together aspects from all the apps we've seen so far. Each lesson is designed around a useful topic, and contains vocabulary, grammar, and practice exercises which gradually build conversational and writing skills. This app also encourages you to speak with native speakers and correct other people’s completed exercises. Each language course on Busuu is developed using the Common European Framework of Reference; an internationally recognised standard for creating language lessons. Busuu brings together a mix of traditional learning with a more casual approach, allowing you to work at your own pace towards your goals.
Have you tried any of our recommendations, or have any of your own? Get in touch via Twitter or Facebook and let us know what you thought!