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Teaching Students a New Language? There are Great New Apps for That

6 Language Apps for learning foreign languages - TeacherCast Guest Blog

Instead of the old days of hunkering over textbooks and language translation dictionaries, today’s students can learn a language easier than ever before. Thanks to a number of mobile apps, you can take amazing resources and lessons with you wherever you go to master a new language on your own schedule. No matter if you prefer regimented flashcard learning or free-form conversation lessons, there’s a language learning app for you and your students. Here are six of the best language learning apps.

Memrise – Free

memriseThe Memrise app uses a unique system with memory-enhancing techniques to help you learn 44 words per hour while playing language games. Choose between visual learning, rapid recall, review and strengthen games, and more. The app makes it fun to learn any of its more than 100 languages. Memrise is one of the only apps that offers multiple dialects of Arabic, Icelandic, and even Dothraki (of Game of Thrones) and other fictional languages.

Many of the programs are created by users, providing a unique experience based on native speaker languages. Aside from the games, Memrise has something for everyone, with lessons featuring audio, video, and example sentences.

Available for iTunes and Android

Hello Talk – Free

hellotalkInstead of simply memorizing language tips and vocabulary, Hello Talk connects users with native speakers of more than 100 languages for conversational practice and learning. This unique method allows users to get a real-time correction for their grammar and pronunciation mistakes and hear vocabulary in real-world context. Hello Talk is communication-based instead of curriculum-based, so you get to immerse yourself in another culture as you learn at your own pace and share your success through the app’s social features.

There may be other apps that offer similar services, but Hello Talk stands out because of its reliable support system; it has teamed up with communications company Agora.io to access a global infrastructure with more than 70 data centers around the world. That means no matter if you’re talking to someone on a mountaintop or in a developing country with limited internet access, you can always get a clear connection without necessarily relying on a stable Internet connection. There’s no excuse to ever stop your language learning and conversations!

Available for iTunes and Android

Duolingo – Free

duolingoTurn your language learning quest into a fun competition with friends with Duolingo. The app offers short lessons for 10 different languages, meaning you can learn in manageable sections that fit into your schedule. Duolingo then tests your knowledge from each lesson, allowing you to score points, move to different levels, and earn virtual accomplishments. Duolingo isn’t as interactive as other apps, but it is very visual and fast-paced and is perfect for a quick break between activities or a full afternoon dedicated to language learning.

Available for iTunes and Android

Lingvist – Free

lingvistThis app says it only takes 200 hours to master a new language, and it tries to maximize your time with collections of vocabulary and grammar lessons and flashcards. With smart, practical content, the app remembers words you struggle with and adds them in the rotation more frequently while taking out words you quickly master. The algorithm even tracks your learning patterns to maximize your learning and get your speaking a new language in as little time as possible. You can review words in real-world context to truly get a sense of how to speak the language instead of memorizing random words. Right now the app is only in French and English, but many other popular languages will be added soon.

Available for iTunes and Android

Brainscape – Free

brainscapeIf you learn best from flashcards, Brainscape is the app for you. With a wide variety of useful vocabulary words, Brainscape drills the words into your memory. It even has an intelligent response feature that cycles words you are struggling with into the deck more frequently, so you get more practice until you have the word down. Brainscape also personalizes your allotted response time to the perfect amount of your brain, whether its five seconds or 10 seconds between cards. Brainscape isn’t as flashy as some of the other apps, but there’s no arguing with its effectiveness in teaching words in a new language. In fact, it’s been proven to increase learning speeds by up to two times, which means you’ll have that new language down in twice the time!

Available for iTunes

busuu – Free

busuubusuu was named one of the best new apps when it came out and for good reason. It uses a pool of 60 million native speakers to create lesson plans that work on vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, speaking, and listening. Go through the lessons on your own time—you don’t even need an Internet connection to use the app. After mastering basic interactive lessons on listening and understanding, you can test your written knowledge and conversation skills with native speakers around the world. If you’re in a hurry, stick to the app’s list of the 150 topics and 3000 words you need to know in each language. It’s not all classroom learning—you can even test your new language skills with fun games and puzzles to make sure you can take your new language skills and use them in real life.

With a multiple of free language-learning apps, there is something for every student and type of learner. It doesn’t take much time or effort to be conversing in a new language with these great technical advantages. What app will you try with your students?


JT Ripton is a freelance education, technology, and business writer out of Tampa. He loves to write to inform, educate and provoke minds. Follow him on twitter @JTRipton

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