Tech

What are the best apps for learning foreign languages?

Hola, hei, hi: do you want to know how to say “hello” and a whole bunch of other words in a foreign language? Until talking about it to travel more comfortably when the pandemic is behind us? To become multilingual, take out your phone: here is our selection of applications to start or improve your level.

Whether you are going on vacation soon outside of France, or if you dream of becoming a multilingual without having to travel a kilometer, the applications for learning a foreign language are now legion. However, this diversity of offer probably complicates the choice of someone who hopes to perfect their Chinese, Polish or Turkish through a smartphone.

This guide will try to help you in this process. All the applications that you will find selected are free (possibly supplemented by a premium version for some). Without ignoring the best known and recognized, we also offer you some discoveries to quench your thirst for learning different idioms.

Duolingo

Do we still need to present Duolingo? Launched in 2011, the service today prides itself on being ” the world’s most popular language learning platform “. The application encourages its 200 million users to earn points as lessons learned and exercises performed. The learning method is simple, but effective: it relies on tick cards, and the technique of spaced repetition – the cards you know less will be presented to you more often.

From the app configured in French, you can learn German, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. If you have a good foundation in English, more courses are available to you in this language: Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Esperanto, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Welsh, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Hungarian, Swahili and Romanian.

Every day, Duolingo invites you to set a goal, quantified in terms of time: you can spend between 5 and 20 minutes a day learning new words in the language or languages ​​of your choice.

Duolingo is available on iOS and Android.

Duolingo

Babbel

Perhaps a little more austere than the previous app, Babbel is nonetheless a reference for learning a foreign language. If you have kept the school habit of expressing your language level according to the Common European Framework of Reference (A1, A2, B1, B2, etc.), know that the application also refers to it.

Again, Babbel works on the principle of repetition: in lessons, the app first presents you with vocabulary words, which you must then write correctly. In the free version you can access every first lesson of the different courses; for the following ones, a subscription of one to 12 months is required (between € 12.99 and € 6.50).

On Babbel you can learn the following languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Polish, Dutch, Indonesian, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian and Russian.

Babbel is available on iOS and Android.

Babbel

Speekoo

On Speekoo, no blank text, images to select or summary to write. The application scrupulously prefers to respect one principle: each card you have learned allows you to understand the next one presented to you. Little by little, the words that you learn separately then make it possible to form sentences, always according to the good old technique of repetition.

Along with English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek, the app teaches Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic keeping the alphabet you already know. Over the course of the lessons, you can unlock cultural anecdotes.

A “In your bag” tab groups together vocabulary words, grammar concepts and the pronunciation of crosswords already on the app. At present, more than 12,000 “speekers” have registered on the app.

Speekoo is available on iOS and Android.

Speekoo

Busuu

The free version of Busuu allows you to take courses in one of the languages ​​available on the app: English, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Russian, Chinese , Portuguese, Turkish or Arabic. Each lesson begins with a set of cards to acquire vocabulary on a different theme (say hello, number and colors, food…). Depending on the themes chosen, a dialogue puts the learned words back into a context, or a memorization exercise is offered.

Tests and conversations for some lessons are only accessible on the premium version of the app. Busuu gives you the option to test her for seven days before eventually taking the leap. A “Revise” tab allows you to listen to the vocabulary words already crossed when you wish.

Busuu claims to date more than 80 million users worldwide. The app also offers the possibility of training with other Internet users whose mother tongue you are learning.

Busuu is available on iOS and Android.

Busuu

Tandem

The founding principle of Tandem is a little different from its counterparts. In this app, priority is given to the exchanges that you will have with other users. You are there in order to ” find a language exchange partner With whom to converse in a multitude of languages.

Tandem is probably the app of our selection that offers the most choices; a diversity which is probably explained by the presence of 3 million members on its service. Since you are not on the app to take lessons but to chat with other people, registering takes a little more time.

After answering a series of questions (about your interests and goals), you must wait to be put in touch with other users. It may take up to seven days, but for us the procedure only took a few minutes.

Tandem is available on iOS and Android.

Tandem

Memrise

Memrise seeks to bring a more playful dimension to learning a foreign language, by making the linguistic skills of its user “superpowers” ​​to obtain. In operation, it is similar to its predecessors with a check card operation.

Its particularity is to integrate short videos shot by natives to the questions: then it’s up to you to recognize the words they use. Memrise offers a similar offer to its competitors, with lessons in English (British and American), Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Japanese (without writing), Chinese (simplified ) and Russian.

Your mission, assuming you accept it, is to learn five new words every day through Memrise.

Memrise is available on iOS and Android.

Memrise

Article originally published on February 25, 2018 and updated on September 19, 2021

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