Despite what you may think, learning a new language doesn’t have to be hard. Whether you want to learn a language for travel purposes, for school, to better converse with a romantic interest, because you want to improve your job or work prospects or for any other reason, just know that technology is making becoming bilingual (or even trilingual) not only easier but more fun and more effective than ever. And with the apps and services listed here, you can learn not only in-demand languages like English, Spanish or Chinese but more niche languages like Hebrew, Finnish or Greek (along with dozens more). I’m completely convinced that in today’s modern world, the best ways to learn new languages are right here in this article. Goodbye books. Later expensive software. Rosetta Stone, meet your alternatives.
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Lingvist has some serious Geeks behind it (and I mean that in a good way). People who helped discover the Higgs Boson particle at CERN and people who helped build Skype. And their scientific, technical, data-driven approach shows in this consumer-friendly, smart language learning tool. The big claim here is that you can learn a new language in 200 hours. It helps you learn words and phrases that are statistically relevant (see what I mean about that data), a smart algorithm tracks your progress and the system learns your learning style and adapts to it. Linguist is still new, though, so right now English and French are available with Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Swedish on the way soon.
Mondly’s motto is: Play Your Way to a New Language. It’s a picture-driven, visual approach to learning a new language that is smart enough to adapt it’s difficultly setting to your current learning level. Not only does it track your progress but it makes learning a fun game (there’s even a multiplayer mode, in a way, since you can compete against your friends). So: addictive gameplay weaved together with intelligent speech recognition and the voices of native speakers… what’s not to love here? Mondly current serves up over 20 languages too! While the big (popular) languages are there, you’ll also be able to learn languages like Hebrew, Romanian, Hungarian, Czech, Norwegian, Korean, Finnish, Greek, Indonesian and more.
Duolingo is so awesome I had to put it third, rather than first. What I mean is so many people have heard of it already (a good indicator of it’s effectiveness) I couldn’t lead off with it, but if you haven’t already heard of Duolingo you’re in for a really awesome surprise. Duolingo uses small, bite-size lessons combined with fun and addictive gasification (earning points for correct answers, racing against the clock, leveling up, etc.) to help you learn a new language quickly and effectively (and enjoyably). Each lesson provides immediate feedback via in-lesson grading and combines speaking, listening, translation and multiple-choice challenges. From learning Swedish to Turkish to Esperanto to Irish, and several other languages in-between, Duolingo is a great alternative to traditional language learning techniques and software.
Verbling doesn’t try to turn learning a language into a game and doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel. Instead this web app connects you straight to the source: native speakers. With Verbling you take online language lessons from native speaking tutors: anytime of any day. It works by pairing you with a language tutor over high-quality, two-way video chat. And the tutors you’ll connect with on Verbling aren’t just random people: they’re certified professional language teachers.
Drops is a language learning app that helps you learn a new language in just 5 minutes a day. In fact, it won’t let you learn longer than 5 minutes per day! Even aside from the time limit (which definitely seems like a great way to not get overwhelmed or overstimulated), everything about Drops is completely unique and well-executed. It’s a mobile-first, picture-driven (well illustration-driven if you want to be technical) approach that helps you learn a new language with your thumb (for real).
5 More Awesome Language Learning Apps
- CoffeeStrap – Meet real people to learn languages using real conversations.
- Easy Ten – Learn a new language by learning 10 words a day.
- Duolir – Learn a language by immersing in the culture via stories with subtitles.
- HiNative – Ask native speakers language and culture questions in this global Q&A.
- Smigin – Learn an language by building practical phrases.