Learning a new Language Doesn’t Have to be a Challenge with These Apps
Language learning is a process that can stymie even the most dedicated student, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are many applications that make this frustrating process a lot easier for students of all ages and skill levels.
These new applications run on all types of devices, from the iPad to the iPhone, and most can also run on Android phones and tablets. This means your students can improve their language skills no matter where they are, even if they only have a few minutes to spare.
Students will only get something out of apps that are fun and easy to use and that offer a real benefit. Here are the top five apps we found that offer the most engaging, interactive, educational experience for students.
1. Hello Talk (Free)
Hello Talk is one of the most interesting apps on this list, simply because it truly makes learning a new language fun. Instead of asking you to sort through flashcards, Hello Talk allows you to connect with someone who actually speaks the language you are trying to learn and have a conversation with them!
This “novel” way of language learning is actually how people have been learning languages for centuries, and Hello Talk backs up this model by integrating premium features like:
- Speech to text—Easily follow someone who is talking
- Grammar correction—Get real-time changes made while you are speaking
- Transliteration—Simplifies learning non-Roman based languages (Chinese/Japanese) that use symbols instead of Roman based characters
What makes Hello Talk stand out from similar apps is that it’s based on a proprietary global infrastructure of over 70 data centers set up by communications company Agora.io. This means that instead of relying on the general internet, which can be unreliable at times, especially if you’re learning from someone in a country with sub-par network stability, Hello Talk uses its global network to route data from data centers that are at capacity to those with bandwidth to spare, all while smoothing any dropped audio or video data, making for clear and reliable HD calls to your fellow language learners without worry or dropped calls, no matter where you are around the world.
2. Brainscape (Free, iOS Only)
Brainscape is a great app for one reason and one reason only: it does flashcards right. Instead of helping you learn through a number of half-baked features, Brainscape bets big on flashcards and offers a lot of features to help you more easily train with flashcards over time.
One of the best features is the idea of intelligent spaced repetition, which reintroduces flashcards you got right on the first try over a longer period of time than it waits for flashcards you got wrong. This way you spend more time going over the flashcards you got wrong and helps you better remember them, but you still get a refresher on the words you already know, so you don’t lose the information you’ve already committed to memory.
While many students won’t love the idea of looking at more flashcards, the way that Brainscape helps you remember what you’ve learned is above what most flashcards can do, which is one of the reasons this application is so popular in education today (better retention = less time using flashcards).
3. Duolingo (Free)
Duolingo was one of the first language learning mobile apps, and it has only gotten better since its initial introduction. Just like many applications on this list, the core focus of Duolingo is learning languages by presenting information in bite-sized chunks and asking you to repeat the answer to a question back or to use games to do something like match the right word to an object.
It was also one of the first applications to successfully use the “leveling-up” system, which makes it more rewarding to progress through its language learning “levels.” Unlike some of the other applications (like Hello Talk), Duolingo does not give you an opportunity to talk with people in other countries who actually know the language, which can sometimes make it feel harder to make substantial progress than you do when using some of the more interactive programs.
4. MindSnacks (Free, iOS only)
Similarly to Brainscape, MindSnacks goes all-in on a key feature, but that feature is games. It has built the entire application to highlight different games for learning each language it offers. Unlike applications like Memrise, MindSnacks develops each game with an expert team that uses proven learning techniques to teach you everything from vocabulary to context and even grammar.
While the games do look very good, there is a clear focus on young language learners. You may not see the same level of follow-through with older students simply because the games are a bit too simplistic for an older age group.
5. Memrise (Free, $59/year Pro Version)
The Memrise application is focused on helping you remember words by turning the process of remembering into a game. Its goal is to help you learn 44 new words per hour, but regardless of whether or not you hit that mark, you’ll likely be blown away by the sheer number of language options presented to you.
Because Memrise is an application built around courses created by users, you are able to find a number of courses that cover over 100 languages, giving you almost limitless options when it comes to figuring out what to learn.
With these apps, learning a new language has never been easier or more fun. From the ability to actually talk to people who speak the language in real time to flashcards finally done right, to simple yet effective language learning games that may make you forget you’re learning a new language in the first place. Have you or your students given any of these new language learning apps a try? What are your thoughts on them?