Pocket-sized language lessons to prepare you for your next destination.
Whether you’re a veteran globe trotter or a first time traveler, setting your sights on any destination means research (we’ve got travel guides that can help). Preparation is the name of the travel game, from landscape to social environment to cultural hallmarks––one of which is language. The language barrier is a hurdle many a traveler have faced and overcome, and with the aid of smartphones, we have a number of tools at our fingertips to help bridge the gap. If you’re looking for more than translation, however, language learning has become more accessible than ever, particularly through apps. Below are four of the top ready-to-download language learning apps on the market, to have you at the top of your travel game before you arrive at your next destination.
Perhaps the most well-known language learning app on the market for both its social media presence and trademark owl mascot, Duolingo is one of the prominent leaders of the language education app sphere. Offering over 40 different languages for native English speakers to choose from, Duolingo’s bite-sized lessons and encouraging game-like format help those seeking language education to practice their target language in different formats, from reading, to listening, to speaking. Duolingo focuses on topic-based modules in order to arm language learners with both the basics of their target language, and the social contexts in which these basics may be needed. Duolingo is constantly updating and expanding its language educating premises, recently having introduced podcasts and stories to better shape the language learner’s experience. While Duolingo isn’t a straight path to fluency, it’s an incredibly helpful and thoughtful tool in language learning. There are both free and paid versions of the app.
2. Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is a popular language learning app for the proficiency and professionalism of its design. Rather than focus on outright translations, Rosetta Stone dives straight into the language learner’s target language, using photo association and progressing from basic vocabulary to common conversational language. Like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone offers stories in the user’s target language, but also offers private tutoring, situational phrase-guides and a heavy focus on grammar and punctuation. While the app does require a paid subscription beyond the initial trial lesson, Rosetta Stone offers 25 different languages to learn from the comfort of your own home or on the go.
Offering 14 languages and tailored programs based on the native language of the user, Babbel is a language learning app that focuses on grammar from the get-go. Users are taught particular pronunciation, special vowels and consonants, and grammar rules that guide them throughout their lessons, eventually evolving to conversational language. Babbel allows users to chart their own courses through topic selection, ensuring that their courses work best for your needs. Babbel also provides insight into cultural and local jargon, and like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, offers multiple learning formats to serve the user’s learning styles most effectively. The app provides a limited free trial, but a subscription is required for the full service.
Memrise is a unique language learning app in that its central focus is on the conversational aspects of the user’s target language. Between speech recognition, grammar lessons, and familiar learning formats like virtual index cards, Memrise approaches language learning through a combination of essential vocabulary and immersive conversational components that reflect real world language application. The app also offers “Learning With Locals” video clips that allow the user to ‘converse’ and practice the conversational language they’ve learned in real-world-adjacent contexts. Memrise comes in both a free and paid format based on the user’s needs and goals.