Best Apps for Learning a Foreign language

By  //  November 13, 2020

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With the advent of the internet and mobile technology, language learners have found themselves with more study options than ever before.

No longer are you limited to the language books on the local library shelf, or a university course. Now with mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to start learning a foreign language. Here are five of the most effective and innovative ways to learn a language on a mobile app. 

1) Duolingo

Founded in 2009, Duolingo has become a household name when it comes to language learning. Despite its humble beginnings as a small tech startup in Pittsburgh, the app has grown to have over 300 million users learning 20 different languages.

The app features a gamified approach to language learning. Users are required to translate, speak, listen, and write sentences in their target language. Duolingo has proven to be an effective tool for learning the basics of a foreign language.

However the effectiveness of the app will depend on the language you’re studying. An independent study found that after completing Duolingo’s Spanish course, users obtained a level of proficiency in the language comparable to four semesters of a college foreign language study.

Users learning languages that are linguistically far removed from English, will find the app and its method less effective, though still beneficial.

2) ltalki

Italki is the natural extension of traditional language learning coupled with 21st century technology. The app is essentially a global marketplace for online language teachers and tutors.

The app allows you to search for teachers based on their native language, the languages they teach, and the country where they are from. The app provides various community features like a public language journal, a language learning blog, and help forums.

3) HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a worldwide language exchange in the form of a mobile app. Users can search and connect with each other from across the globe. With Hellotalk you can practice with your language partners via video, audio, or text chat. There are also in-app features like translation and pronunciation help to aid in the language learning process.

4) Anki

Unlike the other apps on this list, Anki wasn’t created by a language tech company. Anki is a free and largely open sourced spaced repetition platform, where users can create and edit personal flashcard decks. Anki wasn’t created as a language learning app per se.

It was designed as a way for users to review large amounts of information in the most efficient way possible (hence the spaced repetition aspect).

The app is a great way to review and retain any information you can fit onto a digital flashcard, and it really shines when it comes to language learning.

Users can pull audio files, images, and translations from across the internet and compile them into Anki decks for vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and reading review. While Anki is probably the least user friendly entry on this list, it is also the most powerful.

5) Pimsleur

The Pimsleur method is the brainchild of the late Dr Paul Pimsleur, created all the way back to the 1960’s. Dr Pimsleur specialized in the fields of linguistics and psychology, and he sought to use his experience to create an effective and efficient way for learning a foreign language.

Fast forward to today, and the Pimsleur courses have been revamped for the mobile platform. In addition to the classic audio based prompt and response technique featured in the original courses, there is also an added reading section where users learn how to read their language phonetically.

Pimsleur is a great way to learn a language conversationally. Short of speaking with real native speakers, you won’t find another way to approximate daily conversations and train your brain to think and respond in a second language.

The Pimsleur method carries over to languages that differ from English (unlike Duolingo). In fact the team at www.livefluent.com/best-way-learn-japanese say it’s one of the best ways to learn Japanese, Mandarin, or other asian languages.

Conclusion

Any one of these unique and innovative apps affords the opportunity to learn a foreign language at the flick of a finger. No matter your target language or learning style, there is likely an app that will meet your learning needs.

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