What better way to spend some free time during quarantine than by learning a language? Learning a language is scientifically proven to lower your chances of dementia and Alzheimers, increase your intelligence, and improve your concentration. It also opens up your range of outreach and communication to a much wider, more global scale, making the skill very appealing to employers and job-seekers alike. In this article, we will list the top ten best smartphone applications to utilize in your language learning endeavors, as well as list the languages that they offer.
- Languages Offered: Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin), Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Dutch, Swedish, Latin, Greek, Irish, Polish, Norwegian, Hebrew, High Valyrian, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, Danish, Romanian, Indonesian, Welsh, Czech, Swahili, Scottish Gaelic, Hungarian, Ukranian, Klingon, Esperanto, Navajo
Duolingo is the first app on this list. Through this app, the user gets a well-rounded experience of grammar, vocabulary, interesting practice exercises, as well as listening and speaking practice. Duolingo offers thirty-five languages for English speakers (ranging from modern, to ancient, to fictional!), and many more courses for users who want to learn in a different main language.
- Languages Offered: Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Italian
LingoDeer is an exceptional phone application, minimalist in design but maximalist in content. Located in Hong Kong, LingoDeer specializes in high-quality Asian language learning courses, but they have recently extended to Romantic, Germanic, and Slavic languages. At the end of every grammar lesson, you can be prepared to put your skills into action by translating videos of native speakers using them in everyday-esque situations.
- Languages Offered: English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Cantonese, Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, and 150+ more
HelloTalk is a virtual pen pal app that lets you connect with native speakers of more languages than you can think of. Using its interesting moments and search features, you can find native speakers to talk to based on interests and hobbies, as well as their level of fluency in the target language. With the ‘learn’ feature, you can look at posts made in your target language and click on any word to see its definition, which can be very helpful when you are trying to practice literacy and not be stopped every few minutes to look up a specific word.
- Languages Offered: Dutch, Danish, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish
Babbel offers fourteen languages on their app, with lessons ranging from your traditional grammar and sentence translation exercises to interesting conversations that have native speakers speaking at the beginning of your lesson. Babbel is one of the most popular language learning apps, and not without good reason. They’ve truly taken over the mobile language learning scene with the functionality and ability to formulate real progress through their app.
- Languages Offered: German, French, Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain)
Having trouble with vocabulary? Lingvist, an adaptive language learning application, will help you learn some of the most important vocabulary in your target language through repetition and allowing you to see its use in a sentence. That feature would be especially helpful if you were to learn one of the languages with cases that they offer (German and Russian), but it is also a helpful feature in general to help you with sentence fluency. As you progress through the multiple levels of the app, you’ll find that the gap between your passive and active vocabulary will shrink significantly.
- Languages Offered: Spanish (Mexico), French, Arabic, German, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Spain), Turkish, Chinese (Mandarin, Simplified), Korean, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese (European), Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Russian, Japanese (without script).
Memrise, an app somewhat akin to Duolingo, is unique it its feature that users are able to create their own language courses through the software, meaning that you virtually are able to learn any language. One of the user-created langauges that I was able to access through the app was Yup’ik. The company has also extended past being a solely second language education program, and also has courses for subjects such as arts and literature, maths and science, the natural world, history, geography, memory training, standardized testing, and entertainment.
- Languages Offered: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese (Mandarin), Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Swedish, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Greek, Finnish, Norwegian, Czech, Arabic, Hebrew, Turksih, Latin, Romanian, Esperanto, Ukranian
LingQ takes a unique approach in comparison with the other apps on this list, as the founders, Mark and Steve Kaufmann, wish for you to learn a second language by reading rather than other methods. Literature is a very useful tool when learning languages, as you will be able to expose yourself to grammar and vocabulary used in-action, and not just from the safety of a beginner’s textbook. They’ve also recently added audial lessons to pair with your reading!
- Languages Offered: N/A
Anki is a spaced-repetition flashcard software that can be downloaded onto your computer or onto your phone. You can upload your own language flashcards or utilize another user’s, and practice vocabulary in a way that uses scientific memorization patterns to help you get the most out of each practice session. Some of the pre-existing flashcard bundles on Anki include: every Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi level’s vocabulary, as well as vocab for every JLPT level, TOPIK level, and certain language’s CEFR scale.
9. Rosetta Stone
- Languages Offered: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, English (American), English (British), Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin*, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Turksih, Vietnamese
Founded in 1992, Rosetta Stone is one of the most prolific language learning companies named after one of the most prolific linguistic archaeological discoveries, the Rosetta Stone, which helped scholars translate from hieroglyphics, to Ancient Egyptian demotic, to Ancient Greek and vice versa. It was key in unlocking the secrets of the pyramids. The Rosetta Stone, respective to its name, will teach you how to translate from English to another language and back again. Using traditionally successful second-language teaching techniques such as repetitive vocabulary and grammar exercises paired with listening and speaking practice, this app will help you achieve proficiency in no time.
*Latin is only available on the web version, not mobile.
- Languages Offered: N/A
If you are thinking of learning a language that utilizes a non-Latin based script, the application Scripts can help you study until you’re completely literate in that alphabet. Scripts, created, has courses for ASL, Chinese Hanzi, the English alphabet, Hebrew, Devangari, Kana, Hangul, and Russian Cyrillic.
- Languages Offered: 100+
Okay, so this website technically counts as a bonus addition because it isn’t an app, but it’s an important resource that every language learner and lover alike should know about. The German image-based dictionary offers you the most clean-cut way to pound the most common 1,000+ vocabulary words in your target language. With more than one hundred languages, you can learn the core vocab easily and categorically, building your proficiency up more quickly than you could ever imagine.
Extraclass. January 7th, 2017. “The Brain Benefits of Learning a Second Language”. Extra Class Italia. http://www.extraclass.it/2017/01/07/the-brain-benefits-of-learning-a-second-language/
Alban, Deane. February 3rd, 2020. “The Brain Benefits of Learning a Second Language”. Be Brain Fit. https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-learning-second-language/
Nix, Elizabeth. November 5th, 2019. “What Is the Rosetta Stone?”. History. https://www.history.com/news/what-is-the-rosetta-stone
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