The Best Apps for Learning a New Language

Technology has made it easier than ever to learn any language one desires. In the past, costly seminars and one-on-one teaching sessions were the only possible ways to become immersed in a foreign language while still living at home. Now, with the emergence of sophisticated language learning software, anyone with a computer or mobile device has the potential to become fluent in any language. As mobile apps increase in popularity, so do apps geared toward leaning a new language. Here are some of the best mobile apps to get started with a new language:

MindSnacks (iOS) – Free
Award-winning mobile app MindSnacks provides a fun way to learn a language. Colorful games are the primary asset on MindSnacks, which offers various apps to help learn seven different languages -- in addition to apps for SAT Vocab, Geography, Kids' Vocab, and Math. It's great for all ages, so it's definitely recommended for classroom learning as well. With a 1000+ word to learn, various levels, and 40+ hours of content for each language, MindSnacks is a proven way to hone your language skills, regardless of age.

Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese

Duolingo (iOS, Android) – Free
Duolingo may be the most well-reviewed language learning app for both Android and iPhone, and for good reason. The app’s strategy mimics very expensive programs like Rosetta Stone, in using picture association and voice repetition in addition to vocabulary learning and lesson quizzes. Many have even found the experience of Duolingo to be superior to the likes of Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur. Perhaps best of all, in addition to being called the best language learning app by the Wall Street Journal and PC Magazine, Duolingo is completely free.

Languages: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, English

Sonico GmbH Languages (iOS) – $2.99
While there are a variety of language dictionary apps that do the job, the translation dictionary from Sonico GmbH is one of the best. Very importantly, it works without an internet connection. The app serves greater purpose to those who already have learned a language or are in the midst of learning it, but there are few apps the match the convenience and simplicity as this one for learners of new languages.

Languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish

Busuu (iOS, Android) – Free
A common criticism of language learning software is that one can never become truly immersed in a language without interacting with native speakers. Just as you need to actually work on a car to get a feel for how to replace Mustang Axles, you need to interact using a foreign language to get a feel for it. Busuu makes it happen via your mobile device. The app has a 3000+ word vocabulary each for a dozen languages. Users learn that vocabulary, and then practice with native speakers. Busuu may not cover a language’s grammatical tendencies entirely, but for effective vocabulary learning there are few better mobile apps.

Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

iStart (iOS) – $4.99
If you’re looking to learn French, Spanish, or Japanese and own an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, then you should seriously look into iStart. The app was designed by Mirai Language Systems, and applies an engaging tutor-based approach. Users will be quizzed after a particular unit, have access to a variety of audio and pictures, flash cards, and a native narrator to help hone their dialect.
Languages: French, Spanish, Japanese


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