Linguistics is a fascinating field where everyone wants to develop new language skills.
Some learn languages to improve their career, others for self-development.
But one thing is the same:
Free language learning apps and websites are must-haves for today’s learner.
In this blog post, we’ll share our experience with learning apps, covering such characteristics as:
✓ Foreign language variety
✓ iPhone/iPad, Android compatibility
✓ Free perks
✓ Regular updates
✓ Paid functions & more
There’s also a bonus for polyglots at the end of the post!
Free Language Learning Apps
Meet the most popular mobile app for language learning in the world!
Duo has 200 million active users, 62 courses, and 100 million downloads. It’s remarkable due to the user-friendly interface and cute mascot.
But let’s discuss the details not everyone knows:
- Health indicator—one of the last updates made it a lot more challenging to pass sessions. During the lesson, you can lose hearts that can be recovered within the time or revision sessions.
- Duo for schools—the most effective way to keep students interested in a language even in their free time. There are 100,000 teachers using Duo to track their class’ progress and develop lessons based on its analytics.
- Clubs—special communities to share your progress and practice speaking skills. Track who gained more experience during the last week, and who kept up their streak.
- Compete with friends—even if you don’t belong to any clubs, you can still add friends and see their results compared to yours. It’s a great motivational tool and a reason to have a small competition (for example, let the one who gains more experience per week have a free coffee).
What to learn: 29 languages including less popular languages like Swahili, Vietnamese, Romanian, Hungarian, and fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian.
In-app purchases: Ad-free account for offline learning starting at $6.67/month.
Best app 2017 according to Google Play Awards.
In comparison with other language learning apps, this one is the most effective and creatively designed. It’s completely based on mnemonics and other learning techniques.
Here are some interesting features of this top-rated app:
- Have fun listening to natives speaking your target language. It’s a helpful feature that not every app has—videos where smiling natives pronounce phrases you learn.
- Mnemonic techniques—many packs contain specific clues when you can’t remember some words. They are based on puns and, this way, are easy to store in your memory.
- Game elements—flashcards learning in Memrise is presented as a journey through space. During the game, you develop your own alien whose evolutions depend on your experience. This approach turns learning into a fun game for children and adults.
- Explore function—capture the object and learn what the word is for it in your target language.
- Cute mascot—as long as you gain experience, your little alien evolves and changes forms. Why play Pokémon, when you can boost your pocket monster with your knowledge?
What to learn: 21 languages including Korean, Portuguese, Norwegian, Arabic, Mongolian, Danish, and more.
In-app purchases: Pro account starting at $4.90/month. Pro allows you to see statistics, watch educational videos, use Grammarbot and chats, and more.
90% of the information our brain gets is visual.
That means, if you learn a new language, visual elements are a must. And for this purpose, this study app is a perfect solution.
The point is:
You should play this app for five minutes every day to learn new vocabulary.
When you download this app, you can choose any language among the numerous variety of choices. You’ll get access to a lot of fields to improve your knowledge:
- Body and more.
The app is super colorful and is pleasant to use with its mini-games and cute images. Combine letters, guess pictures, and match words to remember more elements.
What to learn: 28 languages including Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, and more.
In-app purchases: Starting at $2.99/month allowing you to learn more than five minutes per day and open more languages.
Why Innovative 101 is nice software to install?
First, it offers hundreds of helpful podcasts on various topics followed by excellent exercises, questions, and tests.
Second, in these podcasts, you always learn not only from professional educators but also from native speakers!
Innovative 101 has wonderful videos on their website and YouTube from those guests, so you can practice any language you pick.
Although this app offers a lot of plans, every student can find dozens of interesting lessons that are free to use.
A couple of helpful features:
- You choose one of five levels when you sign up, which you can always change during the course.
- From podcasts with natives, you won’t only learn grammar and vocabulary, but also cultural characteristics!
What to learn: 34 languages including Finnish, Thai, Cantonese, Czech, Afrikaans, and more.
In-app purchases: Starting at $7.99 unlocking access to more lessons, podcasts, progress statistics, 1-to-1 meetings with teachers, and more.
Language exchange is a significant element of learning. Especially when it brings you a lot of fun and friends!
Join Tandem to learn and teach languages through communication.
In this app, you can use text or video chats to enhance formal and non-literature vocabulary, improve grammar, and practice pronunciation.
Tandem has several functions to make your experience even better:
- 1-to-1 lessons with professional tutors.
- You can enable safe search. That means, your profile is visible only for users of the same sex.
- No need to use Skype—Tandem has its own video and voice chat software.
What to learn: 30+ languages including Mandarin, Dutch, Esperanto, Greek, and more.
In-app purchases: Starting at $2.91/month allowing pro features like games, verified profile, statistics, and more. Also, by paying $20/hour you get lessons with experts.
Made by the creators of Duolingo, Tinycards is a perfect app for learning anything: dog breeds, famous painters, dinosaurs, anatomy, pop culture artwork, and, of course, languages.
Tinycards is a user-friendly flashcards app where you can learn and test your knowledge. Decks are free and uploaded by users for users.
Learn new words by scrolling through cards, using learning mode, or taking a quiz. Quizzes give you statistics that you can share with friends or check your progress against later.
An interesting detail:
You can find many languages, including the dead ones. Always wanted to learn Latin? Or understand Egyptian hieroglyphs? Or learn the mysterious meanings of runes?
Tinycards has it all and many more!
What to learn: Any language you want—the variety of decks is extensive, and there are daily updates with new packs.
In-app purchases: No.
Busuu gives you a chance to participate in grammar units made by professionals.
It has flashcards on dozens of topics to help form your lexicon of family, business, food, animals, and many other topics.
By joining the pro account, you get vocabulary trainer, audio exercises, and conversations with natives.
What to learn: 12 languages: Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, French, and more.
In-app purchases: Pro plan starting at $5.41/month to get access to all 12 languages, lessons with native tutors, offline mode, and grammar materials.
Vivid and curious flashcards are all in one place for you to use absolutely free.
Every session usually takes up to two minutes so that you can learn languages anywhere—in school, at home, at a bus stop.
Once you train, you get full statistics on the session including reviews per day, grade change progress, and your score percent.
By learning with these highly efficient flashcards online, you increase your vocabulary every day. You can even form your own decks.
What to learn: More than 80 million flashcards in various languages.
In-app purchases: No.
Another social app to communicate worldwide. You can learn and teach other people using this helpful software.
Have you imagined learning a language by chatting?
Well, now it’s possible!
This app isn’t only equipped with live-speaking tools but also built-in aids to translate words, listen to pronunciation, and add to favorites.
Can’t read kanji?
Use the transliteration tool.
Whether you learn English, French, Italian, or maybe some rare language, your partner can always use corrections to show you the mistakes in the form of track changes.
What to learn: HelloTalk supports 150+ languages.
In-app purchases: Starting at $2.99 to save chat history, and enable unlimited translation, transcription, transliteration, and more.
An app developed by language professionals and suitable for both beginners and advanced learners.
Babbel contains innovative exercises like real-life conversation imitation where you put in suitable words.
The vast list of exercises made with care and humor will help you to start speaking any language in weeks.
Bite-sized lessons are easy to learn anywhere, although many of them require audio, so keep earbuds in your pocket!
What to learn: 14 languages including Spanish, Indonesian, Russian, Polish, Norwegian, and more.
In-app purchases: Starting at $6.95/month for more content and exercises.
Elevate is a perfect app to practice English for fluent and native speakers. Its primary goal is to train your brain with the help of dozens of wonderful and beautifully designed games.
Play to improve in five categories: writing, listening, reading, speaking, and math.
For example, to enhance your reading skills, there are games with speed reading, comprehension of the text, or knowledge of synonyms.
The best part of this app:
Not every online course or tutorial can help fluent speakers to improve their skills, but Elevate can. It has an enormous database of synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms, many of which even natives don’t know.
There are games to train syntax, punctuation, memory, text analysis, and much more.
What to learn: English language only.
In-app purchases: Starting at $1.83/month to unlock two additional learning sessions, 17 pro-only games, unlimited access to games.
If you need to learn a new language, what approach should you choose?
There are many methods, but direct language exchange is still one of the most effective.
Find a teacher among native speakers of your target language for terrific results.
How to use the app?
The most popular way is to use it as Q&A—explain any problematic issue and publish it. Soon, you’ll get comments from one or several natives.
Want to check your grammar or pronunciation?
Publish your text or audio online and get reviews of your mistakes.
What to learn: Any language.
In-app purchases: $9.99/month for 10 Premium tickets which you can use to lock your tickets and get extra reviews; the opportunity to listen to all voice answers including ones given to other users; bookmarks to keep in your account, and more.
It may be obvious, but YouTube is a source of e-learning knowledge.
If you are used to watching lifehacks videos or those with cute kittens, you definitely should try YouTube to learn something new as well.
And if you already use it for e-learning, this short list of helpful channels can be useful:
Remember earlier when we discussed the app and website Innovative 101?
Well, they also regularly update YouTube channels for every language they have on the website!
In their videos, hosts explain simple and tricky issues in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. You can find topics with grammar basics descriptions in 30 minutes, 25 must-know adjectives, and Internet slang guides.
James is a professional teacher from Canada with 10+ years’ experience. Along with English, he taught martial arts to kids. He also has unique experience teaching children with autism.
On his channel, James makes videos of up to 20 minutes where he explains vocabulary and grammar units like the use of “do” and “make,” when to use the phrasal verb “down,” how to talk to police, what are 3-word phrasal verbs, and so on.
For those who are learning English as a second language, Rachel’s English is a free and simple way to improve pronunciation and learn to sound like a native speaker.
In her video, Rachel teaches you what syllables to emphasize, how to pronounce diphthongs, and which homophones to use in particular situations.
Holly will teach you from scratch!
Grammar units, vocabulary picks, difficult words to understand, slang phrases, and many more.
She also shares her daily routine in Spanish so that you can enhance your listening skills.
Marina is a study abroad Russian polyglot who knows various languages, and also teaches some of them!
On her channel, you can learn popular topics like common phrases, brand name pronunciation, idioms to use to sound like a native, tips to eliminate the fear of speaking, TOEFL tricks, and more.
What to learn: Any language.
In-app purchases: $10/month for YouTube Red. With YouTube Red, you can enjoy a no-ad account with uninterrupted music and unique shows available only here.
Then, you might like Brainscape. This app is designed to learn elements quickly in various subjects by reviewing them regularly.
The flashcards are vivid and often contain images. The process of learning is the following:
- Choose a card set.
- Answer if you know every card from the set.
- Rate each component’s knowledge on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Get the results on your newly learned cards.
You can also make your own card sets and share them with your friends.
What to learn: Anything including Spanish, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Italian, and more. Also, there are millions of non-linguistic subjects such as programming, anatomy, history, world geography, and so on.
In-app purchases: Starting at $2.99 to unlock more sets and topics.
ChineseSkill is the best app for iPad or smartphone to learn Chinese as a beginner. Start with the basic vocabulary like food, nature, family, numbers and learn more than one thousand words!
Repeat after the native speaker to improve your pronunciation. The app has a speech recognition tool to help you enhance your skills.
Draw hieroglyphs online to remember characters quickly and learn to read pinyin.
This app doesn’t need Wi-Fi once you download the data. Use this feature to learn offline!
What to learn: Chinese language.
In-app purchases: No.
Free Language Learning Websites
Computer-assisted learning is a popular option for students around the world. You may not have a professional tutor, helpful guidelines, or even modern technologies, but you, for sure, have access to the internet.
Here you’ll find the list of free websites to learn English and other languages.
BBC is an excellent source of knowledge for adults and children.
It transmits news, leads magazines, writes articles on the environment, history, culture, and more, and develops awe-inspiring documental films.
But it also has a project for language learning.
BBC offers a lot of materials in dozens of languages, including MP3 records, crosswords, games for kids, news, radio channels, slang picks, and vocabulary lists.
What to learn: 41 languages including rare languages like Flemish, Albanian, Basque, Lithuanian, Maltese, Croatian, and others.
Use this helpful educational website to learn German, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, and many more languages.
First, choose the language you’re going to learn. Then, you’ll be linked to a source where all units are kept.
Here you’ll learn how to pronounce consonants and vowels, build conversations, use vocabulary, and make grammar constructions.
With its variety of levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced, grammar, etc.), you can enhance many aspects of your target language.
What to learn: 13 languages + separate topics with quizzes, verb trainers, games, and dictionaries.
This online learning website is a useful tool for those who like fun games and interesting lessons. It has dozens of topics with vocabulary sets—weather, work, family, animals, tools, time, sport, plants, professions, and many more.
For each word, you can listen to its pronunciation, read transliterations, and look at a picture.
Internet Polyglot is easy to use and has five games to play for vocabulary review. For example, you can search the words by combining letters or connect words with its correct translation.
What to learn: 39 languages including Polish, Swedish, Russian, Chinese, Hungarian, Latin, and Hebrew.
4. 123 Teach Me
This website is the easiest way to learn or teach Spanish. Download a variety of PDF materials to improve your knowledge: fill in the blanks, sentence matcher, spelling, and word match worksheets in dozens of categories.
Read the top 100 Spanish words with translation to start your studies and take part in listening quizzes. Listening is divided into four levels: novice, intermediate, advanced, and superior. Every record has its own vocabulary for a better understanding of the topic.
123 Teach Me also has a Word of the Day rubric. Follow them on Twitter to get a new word every day!
What to learn: Spanish language
On Forvo, you’ll find a collection of word pronunciations in different categories. Categories are made in dozens of languages and usually contain 2,000 or more words.
Forvo also has a ton of guides—specific picks of useful phrases on greetings, transportation, fashion, weather, the human body, drinks, places, and more.
This website is excellent to find the vocabulary for your studies and listen to native speakers’ pronunciations.
What to learn: 126 languages including Mongolian, Sicilian, Galician, Esperanto, Marathi, Icelandic, Ancient Greek, Tatar.
Language learning for free is possible for everyone!
All you need is to use the right websites and mobile apps.
With this excellent list, you’ll find ways to:
- improve listening skills
- build grammar constructions
- enhance reading comprehension
- study writing techniques
- get vocabulary picks
- play linguistic games
- train your memory and much more.
The majority of listed sources are available to download on both iTunes and Google Play. Many of them have offline lessons to use without Wi-Fi.
But one thing remains the same:
All these apps are extremely helpful and absolutely free.