This post originally appeared on the Drops blog.
With the holidays right around the corner, there’s a lot to prepare for. It’s a time when we reconnect with family, when gifts are exchanged, and sometimes even when we meet new family members for the very first time.
Perhaps this year is the year when you finally learn enough of your grandmother’s native language to surprise her. Or maybe it’s the reverse, and you’re about to fly out to meet your grandkids who are raised in another country, speaking another language. What about impressing your hard-to-please in-laws or your cousin’s new spouse?
Any one of these seven apps can help set you on the path to accomplishing just that. Plus, they make excellent gifts if you’re looking for something to give someone who loves languages.
Languages: 32 languages including French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Czech
Price: Free, $9.99/month for Duolingo Plus
You can’t have a post rounding up the language learning apps without mentioning Duolingo. With more than 100 million users, it’s certainly one of the most popular learning tools out there. Despite it’s often quirky practice sentences like “the snake drank the milk”, the app does a good job of teaching learners the basics of vocabulary and grammar. It features many gamified elements–everything from points to scoreboards to help keep learners motivated.
Languages: 9 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, German, French, and Korean
FluentU helps learners dive right in to native content like tv ads, music videos, and short films by offering interactive subtitles and exercises. They curate content from Youtube, adding interactive subtitles that allow you to look up words you don’t understand in real time. You can also do review sessions and exercises to better understand the language used in the videos you watch.
Languages: 150+ supported languages
If you would love to practice your new language, but have no one to speak with, HelloTalk has you covered. This app helps you connect with native speakers of the language you’re learning. You can chat with them via text, voice notes or even video calls. Plus, the app has a lot of built-in features that help you learn while chatting. There’s a translation, romanization, and several other options to help your conversations go smoothly.
The app also has a wide selection of filters, so you can make sure you’re connecting with the best partners. You can select gender, age range, location and more.
Languages: 59 languages including Afrikaans, Croatian, Breton, French, Italian, and Spanish
Price: Free, $8/month for Pro
Learn new vocabulary through context with Clozemaster. This app uses close, or fill-in-the-blank, to help you master words in your new language. The app has a retro video game aesthetic and is intended for students who already have some understanding of the language they’re learning.
Languages: 14 languages including Polish, Swedish, French, German, and English
Babbel is a language course. It teaches you the basics of a language by introducing both vocabulary and grammar. Its exercises combine listening, reading, and writing to help you get started with a new language. It also offers explanations for grammar points introduced in the app.
Languages: 14+ languages including French, Russian, Slovak, and Greek
Price: Free, $10/month for Premium
If you enjoy reading, LingQ is a useful way to do just that in your new language. This app is an assistive reader–that means you can dive right into reading with this tool. As you read, you can mark words as “known” or “unknown” and then any study new words with a variety of review exercises. It features a tagging system, integration with several online dictionaries, an import tool, and tons of user-generated content.
Price: Free, $11.99/month for ad-free Premium
This recommendation may feel out of place on this list, but with the YouTube app downloaded to your phone, you have instant access to hundreds if not thousands of lessons for almost every language.
Languages: 31 languages including French, Hungarian, Hawaiian, Icelandic, Korean, Japanese, and Thai
Price: Free, $9.99 month/Premium
This list wouldn’t feel complete, of course, without including Drops. With Drops, you can play your way to a new language with stunning visuals, engaging games, and short study sessions. Drops helps you build the 3 C’s of language learning–confidence, comprehension and commitment–by focusing on vocabulary.
What about you? What language apps do you recommend? Any you plan to gift the language lover in your life this holiday season?
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My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover, traveler, and foodie behind Eurolinguiste. I'm also the Resident Polyglot at Drops and the Head Coach of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.