Most of the non-English speaking world will agree: learning a foreign language is essential.
Over here however, most school children will struggle to find the motivation for their Spanish classes, and once we realise we’d actually like to be able to say more than ‘me llamo George’, it’s often too late.
It doesn’t have to be that way: learning a new language as an adult is tricky, but it isn’t impossible. Night classes, adult learning centres, books and CDs, there are many options available.
But what about apps? Usually free, easy to use on the go, they are a fantastic way to teach yourself a new language without wasting too much time or money. Here’s our favourite apps for this.
Like the name suggests, Memrise is all about memory. With an emphasis on fun, it’s an all-round very enjoyable app to use, especially for visual learners.
Somewhat reminiscent of flashcards, the app teaches you new words with the help of visual clues - and delivers on its promise: you do end up memorising vocabulary quickly and easily. It also automatically monitors your performance with graphs.
Memrise is free and available for iPhone and Android.
Duolingo is free to download for iOS, Windows Phone and Android, and was crowned Best App in 2013 by the Apple App Store.
It’s ideal for complete beginners, as it focuses on games and repetition to allow users to pick up basic vocabulary easily. The difficulty increases as the user’s level progresses, and it can become quite addictive - which is perfect to keep you motivated.
One little drawback may be the absence of grammar lessons, which may still be needed on the side if you are learning a rule-heavy language like French or German.
This app is part of a course available in print, online and on mobile, and is free to download for Android and iOS. However, once the first few lessons are done you will be asked to pay a fee to access the next ones.
Living Language encompasses everything from grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and conversation. The lessons are very well put together and engaging, and each game adapts to your progress as you go.
This is one of our favourite apps, and the most complete. It’s definitely worth paying to keep learning with Living Language.
Drops aims to teach you a language in five minutes per day, no more. It evens sets a time limit. It’s a picture-based vocabulary learning tool that helps you learn the most used 460 words in any language from Spanish, French, Italian, German and English quickly and easily.
The games are fun and just the right amount of challenging! You might be a little frustrated when you hit the time limit, but it’s a good thing - it’s highly motivating, and you’re sure to want more the next day.
Drops is free to download from the Apple App Store only.
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