Learn a Language Using Your iPhone Using 1 of These 5 Apps Duolingo vs Memrise vs Babbel ... and 2 more
Edited by Jasmin, Eng, Alma
Have you always wanted to learn another language but never had the proper time to commit? What if you could start learning new words and phrases in almost any language during your lunch break or daily commute? Well, as they say, there's an app for that! Learning a new language has never been easier, at least access wise, thanks to the increasing number of language-learning apps available for the iPhone. All you need to do is decide which style of learning works best for you and how much, if necessary, you're willing to pay to get this on-the-go education.
Personally, I've had some success with Duolingo. The games made it fun and it never truly felt like learning, which is what I was looking for at the time. A few years ago I also tried Rosetta Stone, though not in app format. If the app is anything like the computer program, and as far as I can tell, it is, it's the most comprehensive way to learn languages without going back to school. It's much cheaper than returning to school too, despite being the most expensive app on the list.
Method 1: Duolingo
- 1Overview. Duolingo is the app that makes learning languages as addictive as gaming can be. Earn XP for every completed lesson, but lose lives for each incorrect answer. Go a few days without playing, and your skill level goes down. This unique, rewards-based learning approach, highly encourages regular practice.Advertisement
- 2Payment/Upgrades. Everything is offered completely free of cost. No subscriptions. No required in-app purchases.Advertisement
- Uses all the key methods for comprehensive language instruction: speaking ability, translation, and listening comprehension.
- Over 20 languages to choose from.
- Short lessons that focus on very specific topics.
- Colorful, charming design.
- Lessons are based on intuitive learning; the same kind of learning that helps children absorb information without specific instruction.
- Tap words to reveal a dropdown menu with clues to its meaning, or to hear what it sounds like when a native speaker says it.
- Each exercise has a comments page where you can leave a question or complaint. You can also peruse other users inquiries to see if your concern has already been addressed.
- Placement tests are available at the very start of each language course, so you can skip the basics in a language you're already somewhat familiar with.
- Daily reminders help to motivate and make sure you don't lose your winning streak.
- Despite being free, the app is not full of ads.
- Many features are left unexplained and unidentified, making the experience
- Lack of overall instruction.
- 5Verdict. Duolingo makes for fun and simple language-learning. Its lack of structured education may be frustrating to some, especially if you're not a foreign language novice, but for certain types of learners, it can be a real advantage. At the very least, it's a highly productive way to procrastinate and pass the time. Download here.
Method 2: Memrise
- 1Overview. Using the science of how memory works, and what the team at Memrise refers to as Elaborate Encoding, this app helps you learn languages by creating memories that connect to new concepts. Then, through Choreographed Testing, Memrise tests your recall to help strengthen those memory connections. Your progress is measured by the number of words you can demonstrate to have successfully learned.Advertisement
- 2Payment/Upgrades. You can enjoy the large majority of what Memrise has to offer, the app itself included, for free. For access to additional games and an offline learning mode, you can opt for the Pro version. It's a subscription-based service offered in one, three, and twelve-month packages. Prices range from $11.99-$84.99.
- More than 200 languages to choose from.
- Memrise adapts to your personal learning style, so you learn in a way that works best for you.
- Uses flashcards to improve vocabulary retention, written communication, and listening skills.
- Uses mnemonic techniques, such as visual cues and written expressions in your own native language, to help you memorize new words and phrases.
- Courses are community-built, which means they're based on what's worked for other users.
- Provides short lessons that focus on repetitive drills, while introducing new vocabulary at a gradual pace.
- Provides videos with native speakers so you can hear the language.
- You can challenge and compete with friends who are learning the same language.
- Scheduled reminders are optional.
- Only provides training in vocabulary.
- 5Verdict. Memrise is the perfect app for people who enjoy memory-based games and learning. It's almost a two-in-one, in that it offers memory strengthening while teaching you a new language. Use Memrise if you're a highly visual learner. Download here.
Method 3: Babbel
- 1Overview. Babbel wants to make sure you sound confident when speaking a new language. In addition to learning vocabulary and phrases, it offers a key focus on the conversational aspect of becoming familiar with the sounds of a new language.
- Created by expert linguists.
- Progress is synced across devices, and Apple Watch is supported.
- Downloadable courses for offline use.
- Lessons only last about 15 minutes, which means you can learn a ton of content on even the busiest schedule.
- Content is more advanced than game and vocabulary based apps.
- Choose courses based on the subject matter that's relevant to you.
- Set custom learning goals.
- Uses speech recognition to help with pronunciation.
- Only 14 languages are currently available.
- Unpolished interface leaves a lot to be desired from a paid app.
Method 4: Rosetta Stone
- 1Overview. Often touted as the world's #1 language-learning software, Rosetta Stone offers an intensive immersion approach to learning new languages. Its availability in mobile form has given other language apps a run for their money.
- 2Payment/Upgrades. The app and the first lesson are free. To get the full experience, which is three to five levels of lessons depending on the language, it will cost you anywhere from $179.99-$279.99.
- Over 20 languages available.
- Uses immersion and intuition based education. It mimics how children learn languages or the education offered inside immersion-based schools.
- No spoon-feeding; you work for your education. The photos provided encourage you to look for clues to determine correct answers. Making activities both stimulating and highly rewarding.
- Lessons are based on everyday scenarios and teach all the essentials: speaking, reading, and writing.
- Pacing of lessons allows you to slowly, but thoroughly, build on top of what you've already learned so you can feel the progression.
- Clear instructions and approach.
- Offers a wide variety of games and challenges.
- If you're stuck on something, you can obtain the help of a native speaker.
- Uses photos to teach words relevant to the larger lesson at hand.
- Adjustable speech recognition, so that if there's an aspect of the new language you haven't quite mastered, you can tweak the device to suit your current needs.
- Allows syncing across multiple devices.
- Downloadable lessons for offline use.
- It's costly.
- No placement tests for people with previous education.
- 5Verdict. Rosetta Stone is for anyone who is highly dedicated to learning a new language. The financial investment alone should be enough motivation to keep you on track, which makes for a greater success rate. It provides a superior interface, and a practical yet pleasant learning experience, not to mention it's award winning. If you're serious about languages, look no further than the Rosetta Stone app. Download here.
Method 5: HelloTalk
- 1Overview. The language and culture exchange app. HelloTalk connects you with speakers of various languages from all over the world. This is not a lesson-based learning approach; it's all real-world practice using text or video chat.
- 2Payment/Upgrades. There are some optional in-app purchases, but you can take advantage of all HelloTalk's key features for free.
- Connect with native speakers of more than 100 languages.
- Clean design and easy to use interface.
- Offers a tutorial that can be revisited at anytime.
- Text-to-voice and voice-to-text features, allow you to hear the native pronunciation of messages you receive and help you evaluate and improve your own pronunciation. Plus, it means you can practice speaking without anyone having to hear you and build confidence at your own speed.
- Send photos, draw pictures, and use Emoji to enhance the experience by using them for another level of comprehension.
- You'll need a basic understanding of a foreign language before you can truly engage with others.
- Because the community of users is so large, the number of messages you receive can get a little out of hand.
- 5Verdict. If you're ready to put your skills to use and start chatting, HelloTalk is your best bet. It's especially nice for introverted people, who may not want to seek out folks in the real world, but want experience with conversing in a new language. This would be the perfect app to pair with something like Duolingo. Download here.
Once you've decided on an app that works for you, be sure to make using it a daily routine. Sticking to a set schedule will eventually turn your lessons into a habit that you won't even have to think about. Once you've gotten into a groove and you're feeling more confident about your skills, there are some other activities you can engage in to further your knowledge. To improve reading comprehension, look for articles or basic reading level books in your new language. For better listening skills, look for podcasts, and TV shows or movies and try not to use subtitles! The best thing to do, in addition to your daily app routine, is to wholly immerse yourself in your new language whenever it's possible. Happy learning!