The 7 Best Language Learning Software and Apps (Our 2019 Review)
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Do you want to learn a new language?
Perhaps you want to be fluent in a foreign language because it’ll help with your career. Or maybe you want to develop a deeper appreciation for the music and literature of a particular culture. Or perhaps you’d just like to talk to locals while traveling.
Regardless of your why, becoming fluent in Spanish, Greek, Chinese, or Hebrew is now more accessible and convenient—all because there is an abundance of language learning apps and software available.
Learning a foreign language through these tools is quite helpful. The lessons are literally right at your fingertips most of the time, which means that even a few minutes of waiting for your turn at the doctor’s office or while on your commute home can be sufficient time to learn something or complete a lesson.
When choosing the best language learning tool, you must consider the app or software that lets you learn at your own pace and accommodates your learning style.
In this article, we’ve reviewed the seven best language software and apps, categorized according to their purpose of language learning.
Some of these tools are readily available to download for free, while others require you to purchase the product. Regardless, they are all designed to help you become fluent in the language you wish to learn.
Before we present the best language learning software and apps, let’s first discuss the importance of learning a foreign language. Moreover, we will provide you with some tips to truly get the most out of your language lessons.
Don't have the time read the entire review?
Here's a quick look at our top choices for the best Language Learning Software and Apps:
Why Is It Important to Learn a Foreign Language?
There are both personal and professional reasons why it is beneficial to learn a new language. First, it can help improve your career prospects and enhance your work experience. In our increasingly globalized world, companies often expand overseas and work with clients all around the world.
If a job opening comes down to two candidates with the same skills and professional experience, the person who speaks more than one language will be the better prospect. Studies even show that knowledge of a second language can boost one's salary up to 2% annually.
Learning another language can also help improve your cognitive abilities. Research has shown that studying other languages can increase the grey matter in your brain, which is the part of the brain that processes information.
Learning another language can improve your ability to concentrate, and your memory. It can even improve your ability to speak your native language because it helps you understand the mechanics and structure behind all languages, not just the one you are learning.
While you may rarely consider the grammatical structures of your native language, when you're learning a second language, you have to pay attention to the order of your words, your verb tenses, and the parts of speech. This can help you become more aware of how words are arranged in your first language, and take a more conscious approach to cleaning up your speech and writing.
Studying a second language also gives you another perspective about the world and life in general. Language and culture are very closely linked, so as you learn a new language, you will be learning about that culture as well. If you choose to explore the world and other cultures, you will have a much easier time traveling if you are able to speak the local language.
Being able to speak the language of the people around you will help you break down cultural barriers and meet new and interesting people. Knowing more than one language can open up a lot of new opportunities for traveling. You don't even have to be completely fluent in the second language—locals anywhere will appreciate the knowledge you have of their language.
Attempting to speak someone else's language shows more respect for their culture and is an easy way to meet people you would not otherwise be able to communicate with.
If you want to try your hand at learning a new language, what is the most efficient way of going about it? Let's look at how you can make the most of your time learning the language.
How Can I Get the Most Out of Language Learning Software and Apps?
Know your motivation for learning the language.
When you have identified the reason for learning a language, your commitment is important. One way to lose momentum when learning a new language is getting caught up in the small details and losing sight of your larger goals and motivations.
To keep your eye on the prize, take time to remind yourself of your reasons for learning a language, and to visualize yourself meeting your goal. The important thing is to stay in touch with your motivation to learn the language.
Use the app or software every day.
Some apps have lessons that run 15 minutes or less. Using the app every day keeps your new knowledge fresh in your mind. If you make it a habit to study your language every day rather than something you do only when you feel up to it, your learning will stay consistent.
Also, tying your learning into your daily routine will make it easier to get through those times you don't necessarily feel like studying. Try sticking to the same learning time each day so it becomes second nature.
Listening helps your brain become familiar with the strange new words. The more you listen, the more they will become familiar to you. A great way to do this is to find media that is in your language of choice.
Consuming media only available in your new language gives you a chance to work on your language while doing an activity you enjoy. It also helps you contextualize the words more easily.
When learning new words, make sure to say the words out loud. This gives you a feel for a word and improves your memorization. Using the words you’ve already learned is important because learning a language is a gradual process that improves over time.
It’s important to use what you already know and build on that. This will also help you quiet any internal voices that may be telling you that you’re not making progress. Instead, remind yourself of how far you’ve come to keep yourself motivated.
Find opportunities for real-life practice.
Seek out ways to use your new craft! Even though an app provides you with practice opportunities, it is also good to use the language in real-life settings. Aside from talking to other people in your new language, keep a journal, write a song, or make up a short story. You can even treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant where they serve the food of the culture and speak the language.
So, how exactly should you go about learning your new language?
How Do I Choose the Best Language Learning Software or App?
Make sure that the software or app provides comprehensive lessons on the language you want to learn.
Not only do you want to learn the vocabulary, you also want to become proficient in the grammar, as well as oral and written practices. It is great if you know a lot of words in a new language, but they won't do you much good if you don't know how to put them together. This practical knowledge is essential when learning a new language.
Consider the app that allows you to learn at your own pace.
You don't want to use an app that is going to get ahead of your knowledge way too quickly. After all, this is your goal, so you want an app that works at your pace. However, you also don't want to use an app that moves so slowly that you begin to get bored.
Choose the software that provides interactive lessons so you don’t lose interest.
Look for apps that provide you with games to play, or even allow you to interact with other people who are also using the app. This will make learning fun, and perhaps even slightly competitive. It also helps you learn the language in a new way that triggers other areas of your brain through mnemonics and funny associations.
Choose the app or software that provides lessons applicable in real-life scenarios.
You want to actually be able to use your language in everyday life. Scenario-based learning helps you develop critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. This puts emphasis on the context of the words you are using, and helps you apply your new skill to the real world, where you will ultimately be using it.
So, where can you find a tool that has these important characteristics? Let's take a look at the best language learning apps so you can find the one that is right for you.
7 Best Language Learning Software and Apps
Babbel is a language learning app that allows users to choose up to 14 new languages to learn anywhere, anytime. It can be used on a variety of mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers. This is the best overall app for learning a new language. It provides good value for the money, with courses that are comprehensive and self-paced, and lessons that are based on and applicable to real-life scenarios.
Utilizing an empirically proven method to improve language learning, Babbel offers well-developed courses to teach:
The language-learning software in this app comes with a speech recognition tool that analyzes the user's pronunciation. It also has a review manager that will remind you when words and phrases need to be reviewed, from 1 to 60 days, based on your spaced repetition.
This is the best software for learning French. It provides comprehensive lessons covering many aspects of the French language. The lessons offered in Fluenz progress with each step, becoming increasingly comprehensive as the lessons build upon each other.
Each lesson is introduced by a virtual tutor, who explains the focus of the lesson before introducing you to a practice conversation that serves as the basis for the remainder of the activities. Some activities included in this program include matching, conversation practice, and dictation. You don't have to do each lesson in order—you can pick which parts of each unit you want to work on at any point.
Fluenz keeps track of your progress, so you can stop a lesson and pick up right where you paused later on a different device. One unique feature that this software has to offer is the ability for you to record yourself speaking French and then listen to a recording of a native French speaker and compare your accent to theirs.
Fluenz offers a diverse selection of installation options. You can purchase the installation disc for the program or you can download the desktop application. Either of these options allows you to access to the mobile app with identical content. You also have access to downloadable features such as flashcards and comprehension and pronunciation files.
This is the best app for the wide variety of languages you can learn. The program uses an immersion-based learning method to teach each language, which is an effective way of teaching language acquisition. After each lesson, you are given an opportunity to have a 50-minute, live consult with a teacher who speaks the language that you are learning.
Rosetta Stone uses a variety of learning methods to enhance users' learning process. The courses are divided into five levels that each have varying content, depending on the material. Some of the content includes voice recognition software, online coaches, mobile apps, CDs, online group and solo games, and digital downloads. The program comes equipped with a headset and microphone to help users learn more efficiently.
Rosetta Stone is perfect for entry-level learners, as learning is largely achieved through images, games, and flashcards. The methodology of the program encourages users to discover patterns by helping them develop a simple vocabulary that progresses into phrases. The courses are highly structured and designed to teach through this pattern of learning. While some critics believe that this approach to learning is too elementary, this is actually the best language learning method for people of any age.
This is the best software for learning Spanish. It provides options that allow users to take control of their learning, making it very customizable. For example, users can adjust the difficulty of the lessons, the speed of audio playback, the number of lesson repetitions, and the order in which they want to complete the lessons. If you are unsure about how to customize the material, Ouino will recommend a path for you.
This 5-in-1 version includes lessons surrounding pronunciation, conversation, grammar, vocab, and verbs. Each lesson is user-friendly with clear instructions, and has content that caters to various learning styles. It is also a very simple program to download and install.
Ouino’s mobile app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, and it syncs to save your progress, so you can start a lesson on your desktop computer and finish it on your smartphone.
The vocabulary section offers flashcards and several games. It also has timed activities that force you to recall words or phrases right away, which is a useful skill to have in everyday conversations.
Memrise offers a free language-learning software with which users are able to work together to improve each other's knowledge of a new language. Users are able to learn polite conversational phrases from each other, sharpen their vocabulary skills, and practice the writing systems of several languages with this program. This is the best app for learning languages on the go.
Memrise uses audio, imagery, and memory techniques to help users create associations with words for easier recall. As you use the program, you can help fellow learners by submitting your own mnemonics and word associations. This helps the service continue to grow and the material to stay fresh. It also provides regular tests to ensure you're keeping up with the concepts.
This program uses "spaced repetition" to review users on a regular basis. These automatic, precisely-spaced reviews ensure that you keep learning, but you do so at a pace that is conducive to learning, without overdoing it.
This is the best app for learning English as a second language (ESL). It provides very responsive features to the user’s study habits. The unique feature about this software is that, rather than focusing on teaching the foundations of a language, it focuses on quickly getting users to a point where they can comfortably travel through an English-speaking country without speaking much English.
Mango Languages also helps learners understand cultural differences and customs along the way, which makes learning a lot more fun because you are able to picture yourself experiencing these things while using your new language skills. Mango can also help you understand how to pronounce a word using a transliteration that puts an emphasis on the correct parts of each word. There’s also a speech comparison tool to help you analyze your pronunciation.
This is the best app to use if you need a quick translation. It has translations available for 90 different languages. The app offers a text translator, text-recognition features, and audio recordings of translations. Google Translate is a perfect tool to take with you while you travel because it has many useful features that can be used offline.
A recently added feature called "conversation mode" lets you have a free-flowing conversation with another person while the app listens and translates. The app will recognize when someone is talking, translate the words, say it out loud, and then listen out for the next phrase. It's similar to having your own human translator with you.
When using this app, it is important to remember that you are getting a literal translation of the words, so the translation might not be exactly what you are intending to say. However, most of the time, the person you are talking to will be able to figure out what you're trying to communicate.
All the software and apps reviewed today are the top choices when it comes to the best language learning software and apps.
But the winner in today’s review is Babbel, for its good value for money, comprehensive courses, option to self-pace, and applicable lessons that are based on real-life scenarios.