Five free* apps for language learning

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German (general) By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: German » German (general)
Last updated: 30/04/2017
Tags: anytime - anywhere - however long, apps, fun, language aquisition, mobile phone

(*most free apps try to introduce you to products that come at a price)

Here I introduce five free apps for language learning, and two personal favourites.

It does not require expensive research to know that everyone’s learning is in many ways similar but might require different ways/strategies, and that variety increases enjoyment and therefore (hopefully) success in language acquisition. Undoubtedly, immersion into a foreign language and explanation of patterns is the best way to learn a language. However, not everyone is in the position to travel and there is surely also a place for independent/self-study. Books used to play an important role, but more and more the internet and mobile phone apps seem to be replacing the printed word. Websites and apps have ‘come a long way’ and are becoming more and more interactive, supporting and challenging individuals’ learning. “Anytime, anywhere”, for however long, come into their own!

A short internet search reveals the latest reviews and recommendation, but obviously it depends on the learner and what is good for one might be useless for others. Here are a few apps recommended by many authors, such as Marta Krzemińska (www.lingualift.com), which she refers to as “Best free language learning apps“.

The following five apps seem particularly popular:

1. Memrise offers many different languages learners can either tap into or spend time to achieve a certain proficiency level. Based on textbooks and vocabulary lists, as well as more ‘unusual’ content, Memrise is trying to utilise repetition, mnemonics and humorous associations (memes) to support learning and especially recall. The competitive element to outscore others might just add the possibly needed extra motivation to persist.

The following reviews will give a first insight:

http://skillcookbook.com/memrise-review

https://www.g2crowd.com/products/memrise/reviews

https://www.thebalance.com/memrise-review-1357058

http://languagetsar.com/memrise-review-2

www.highya.com/memrise-reviews

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-using-Memrise-Duolingo-for-language-learning

So, next

2. Duolingo makes the learner use all four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). It tries to combine fun with drill and is currently available for Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Irish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish and Swedish.

The following sites are some of the many that offer reviews:

https://www.fluentin3months.com/duolingo

http://fluentlanguage.co.uk/blog/duolingo-review-fluentlanguage

http://uk.pcmag.com/duolingo-for-iphone/4912/review/duolingo-for-iphone

http://skillcookbook.com/duolingo-review

http://snarkynomad.com/a-thorough-duolingo-review-after-finishing-all-of-french

https://www.lingholic.com/duolingo-review

3. Mindsnacks aims to pair language learning and gaming, using cute animations. Each of the nine different languages is structured into nine games and focus on practising listening skills, vocabulary and grammar. Learners can monitor how they are progressing, aiming to achieve proficiency. Certainly a fun way of learning the basics and a timer can add to the thrill.

Here are again a few sites that offer reviews:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/learn-spanish-mindsnacks

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/learn-french-by-mindsnacks

http://powlyglot.com/mindsnacks-review

https://www.wired.com/2012/10/reviews-language-learning-apps

https://thepolyglotblog.wordpress.com/.../review-mind-snacks-french-app-for-iphone

https://edshelf.com/tool/mindsnacks-learn-spanish

4. Busuu is exploring 12 different languages to learn and supports learners exploring word, phrases and sentences, even short conversations, supported by audio clips. The short “travel course” offers an effective way into language acquisition.

The reviews vary a lot:

https://www.fluentin3months.com/busuu-livemocha-review

http://languagetsar.com/busuu-review

http://kokothepolyglot.net/2013/08/22/should-you-consider-busuu-when-learning-languages-review

https://www.thebalance.com/busuu-review-1357040

http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/site-reviews/busuu.shtml

5. MosaLingua provides the usual lessons with the standard topics for beginners. Learners can listen to specific conversations in situations tourists are likely to find themselves. Based on flashcard drill, the app encourages learners to listen, repeat, record, spell and memorise.

At the end, it is down to the individual learner to decide which app, if any, suits them best, and it might even be a good idea to refer back to good old-fashioned CD-ROMs. The EuroTalk’ Talk Now series (NB: The CD-ROMs come at a reasonable price, if bought second hand!) is one of many, but very engaging, entertaining and certainly appeals to some learners’ competitiveness.

Follow the hyperlinks to access a couple of reviews:

http://www.toptenreviews.com/software/education/best-learn-french-software/talk-now-review

http://www.largerfamilylife.com/2015/08/18/we-review-eurotalk-language-learning-apps

Last but certainly not least – an absolute must for sessions on mobile devices ‘on the go’ and longer sessions at home:

Quizlet!

The URLs below can provide a brief insight:

https://quizlet.com/36198661/aqa-german-gcse-unit-2-reading-higher-june-2013-flash-cards/

https://quizlet.com/12466395/avoir-etre-faire-et-aller-flash-cards/

If stuck, just refer to the YouTube tutorial, such as “How to use Quizlet”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ6EXXRv8oU.

Again, learners just need to have a go and decide whether this one is ‘the one’.

 

Most importantly, all learners ought to enjoy their learning, using whatever strategy and resources and focus on the fun that can be had learning new languages!

  

Sources:

https://www.lingualift.com/blog/best-language-learning-apps/ (20/04/2017)

http://www.fodors.com/news/7-outstanding-language-learning-apps-and-websites-11121 (20/04/2017)

 

Further reading:

“THESE LANGUAGE APPS ARE ALMOST AS GOOD AS HAVING A BABELFISH IN YOUR EAR” by Simon Hill, http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-apps-for-learning-a-foreign-language/ (20/04/2017).

“10 Great iPhone Apps You Can Use To Learn A Foreign Language” by Tiffaney Matheus, https://www.igeeksblog.com/5-great-apps-you-can-use-to-learn-a-foreign-language/ (20/04/2017)

“The 5 Best Apps for Learning Spanish as a Beginner” by Kaytie Norman, https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2015/06/best-beginner-apps-for-learning-spanish/ (20/04/2017)


Sönke Beyer German (general) Tutor (Torquay)

About The Author

I cannot guarantee that you will reach native speaker-like proficiency, but I know that you will enjoy learning German, using a mixture of digital and analogue resources with a focus on having fun.




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