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Want to Learn a New Language? Check Out These Tools and Apps

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As a result of more people staying at home this spring, many have taken up new hobbies or other activities. Some have taken this time to learn a new skill or language. If you would like to learn a new language this summer, you should consider a language learning app to help you accomplish your goals. There are many different methods of learning. Especially with language, no one style of learning works best for everyone. Whether you’re more of an auditory, visual or goals-based learner, there are plenty of language learning apps that can help you. Here are a few broken down by their best use.

Best Apps for Auditory Learners

Rosetta Stone for Complete Language Learning

Rosetta Stone is probably the most like a traditional foreign language class that you would take in high school or college. It’s more expensive than most language learning apps, but also more extensive. The app and website include complete dictionaries, audio libraries to help with listening, phrase books (common greetings, phrases, etc. that you’d use when you were immersed in a culture), and pronunciation listening to correct pronunciation. The subscription service also includes access to a community of other speakers of the language you’re traying to learn, whether native speakers or students like you, so you can engage with others and test your progress.

Lirica for Spanish Language Learning through Reggaeton and Latin Songs

The Lirica app takes popular Spanish-language songs and dissects the words in them so you can learn their meaning and also learn Spanish along the way. If you’re a more auditory learner who has always wanted to know the meanings of Spanish songs, this app is for you! Lirica also gives you cultural and historical context for each song and artist, so you can feel you’re learning Spanish and also immersing yourself in a small part of Latin American culture. Your first week is free and then there is a subscription fee if you’d like to continue with the app.

Best for a Practical Knowledge Before Travelling

Babbel for Learning Everyday Phrases and Communication with Locals

Babbel is a little less expensive than Rosetta Stone, but gets right down to what you’d need to learn if you were travelling somewhere and needed to communicate quickly (if not 100% grammatically correct). The app focuses on real-world applications rather than the most grammatical forms of conjugations or verb sets. After a short, optional placement test, each lesson only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

Memrise for Native Speaker Video Clips and Questions

Memrise includes short clips of locals saying words and everyday phrases that you’d encounter on the street. Then, you are asked a series of questions about these phrases for a more immersive learning process. On Memrise, you also get points for right answers and can set daily goals for learning. Memrise is great for brushing up right before you travel to get the feeling of what talking to a local would be like. A few lessons a day are free, but you have to subscribe if you want to access more content.

Best for Visual Learning

Drops for Visual Vocabulary Learning

This app is the modern version of vocabulary flash cards. Drops is an extremely interactive, digital flash card game that moves quickly with an image of the word and the word printed out, written phonetically and also pronounced with sound. The game moves quickly, repeating through different words and gives points and progress for each new word you learn. If you are looking to brush up on your vocabulary before going on a trip, this would be a great bet. However, this is just for vocabulary and not for phrases or complete grammar.  The free app includes one 5-minute (timed) lesson per day (for the free app) on which you can choose from 35 different languages. If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in a language and get the grammar correct, you might want to add another app to your repertoire.

Mondly for Visual Language Learning Games

Mondly is a lot like Drops but includes more phrases and full sentence learning than Drops, which is basically just vocabulary. The app also allows you to click on verbs to see conjugations. If you like making language into a fun game, Mondly could be for you. The app includes visual, audio and video games and recordings so that you can feel like you’re memorizing new phrases in the way that’s best for your language learning habits. Some lessons per day are free, but there is also a subscription option.

Best for Setting and Sticking to Language Learning Goals

Duolingo for Cost Effective but Comprehensive Language Learning

Duolingo includes short, accessible lessons that are straightforward and easy to keep up with. The app combines listening, speaking, and reading exercises – both for everyday words and phrases and more in-depth verb conjugation and translation.The app is formatted in a way that allows you to “gamify” the language learning experience by earning points when you complete lessons and losing “hearts” or game life when you make errors – forcing you to go back through and learn the lesson more thoroughly The base version of Duolingo is totally free – you can access all lessons and content without charge but have premium option to do away with ads.

Busuu for Learning Specifically Tailored to Your Goals

Busuu’s thorough placement test allows the app to create a personalized lesson plan for you. The app includes lessons that are tailored to your future use of the language (for work, for travel, etc.) and based on your desired lesson frequency and length. Much of Busuu’s language learning content is free. However, in terms of the goal and lesson plan creation, you’ll have to subscribe to gain access. You can also set a “learn by” date so you can reach your goals in your desired amount of time. The app will tailor both the lessons and the duration and frequency to you so that, for example, if you can commit 10 minutes every 3 or 4 days, you can become fluent in a language in about three quarters of a year

Best for Film and Culture Buffs

Language Learning with Netflix for Using Movies to Learn a Language

Language Learning with Netflix is a chrome browser extension that is free when used with an existing Netflix subscription. This extension allows you to watch Netflix movies on your computer with two sets of subtitles – your language and native language, with highlights to what is being spoken at the time. It also includes functionality for replay, pause and a built-in language dictionary for a word or phrase you don’t understand. Understanding the emotions that go along with the phrases and words can help you better remember the language and feel more immersed in the culture portrayed.

If your goal is to learn a new language this summer, these websites and tools have you covered. You can find the best app for your learning style and get to learning.

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