5 Great Apps to Help You Learn the Language

27 September 2017

When starting your new life abroad, depending on your destination, one of the greatest challenges can be learning the language. Although many people in a variety of international destinations may speak excellent English, not speaking the native tongue can throw up significant barriers to proper integration. Expats need to create ties in their new homes to fully feel part of society, and not becoming integrated into the community could have real downsides for both your mental and physical wellbeing.


Thankfully, nowadays we don’t need to learn languages like we were taught back in school, with teachers listing down words and tenses on the blackboard for us to all copy down. The range of language learning apps that are available now is huge, and there are options to suit all types of budget and learning styles, whether you want to learn to speak fluently from scratch, or just need to touch up on your skills. This week, we’re taking a look through some of the best offerings currently out there, to give you an idea of what’s available and where to look.


Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is probably the best-known language learning program out there, and with good reason. With their fixed-length lessons, you always know how long the current session is going to take you, so it’s easy to schedule into your day and make sure you get the practice in. The super-slick system is easy to use and provides a great experience, with scoring and tracking to see how you’re improving and which areas you need to work harder on.


The one real downside of Rosetta Stone is that some people feel that the lessons are a bit boring and repetitive at times, although they are a little more involved, and therefore memorable than some of the other teaching methods out there. Reading, writing, speaking and listening are all covered equally throughout the courses, so you don’t have to worry about parts of your language skill getting neglected. There’s also the option to use the e-tutoring service with a real instructor through a video call, to get some real-world experience with one of the 29 languages offered before you move.



Duolingo has the best price-point possible: free. They currently offer both web and mobile applications and have courses available regardless of whether you have a bit of experience with a language or are a first timer. At the moment, they only have 15 languages available but have much more in the beta or development stages which you can begin to access and see as the courses are built.


This application is all about bite-size learning, with small and easy to remember lessons delivered in short sessions. You can set your own daily goals for learning, and get rewarded when you reach them with in-app rewards. As it’s free, Duolingo would make a great companion app to those completing a paid course.



Fluenz has one of the most thorough and comprehensive programs out there, but you’re going to pay for it with a relatively high price. Unfortunately, there are only six (seven if you count two types of Spanish) languages currently available on the platform, making it rather thin on the ground if you’re interested in learning more than one language at a time.


The courses consist of videos laying out the course groundwork for each session, followed by a variety of exercises to test what you’ve learned and help you remember. Although Rosetta Stone and Duolingo are great choices to be checked out, Fluenz should definitely be looked at if you didn’t like the styles of the previous two, as it’s rather different.



One of the cheaper paid apps out there, Babbel offers some great content for 13 languages. The courses are generally very high quality but can vary somewhat from language to language. Babbel has a stable course structure, which is easy to follow and great for such an inexpensive teaching program. It has a tendency to try and teach a lot of new words to new learners, although this might not be a problem for some.


If you’re already experienced in learning languages, Babbel might just be the ideal program for you, with its lower price point, and reduced hand-holding when compared to other offerings like Rosetta Stone. Learning with Babbel can definitely be a challenging experience, but if you don’t mind that, or actively are looking for a challenge, this could be a perfect choice.


Memrise is ideal for those out there who want to expand and practice their vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. Pulling on the gamification of everything these days, the app is basically making a game out of memorising words and phrases, with points being awarded for successful recollection. With well over 100 languages currently offered for free, it’s got the most comprehensive learning options out there at the moment. There is also a paid version which provides access to more games and the ability to learn offline.


At the end of the day, Memrise is just a sophisticated and slick system of flashcards, but many people find this long-term and gradual method of learning highly effective. The practices can be split up into tiny bursts throughout the day, meaning that you can do it on the bus or train to work, or even in the queue at the store. You’ll need to combine the program with some outside learning on grammar and conversational language, but Memrise will have to speaking, reading and writing words in no time.


All data was gathered from the relevant company websites.