5 apps for learning a foreign language

Duolingo, Babbel, Fluentify, Tandem Exchange and Lingua.ly – these websites and apps will turn you into a polyglot quickly and without stress. Here’s how they work and how much they cost.Private lessons, study travel, foreign stays: the traditional ways of learning a foreign language have seen the arrival of other new and free methods on the web. Social networks, platforms and apps are now offering big help free of charge or at very low cost to anyone who wants to learn or improve their knowledge of a foreign language.

Duolingo is available for iOS, Android and Windows phones. With 80 million users, it has become one of the world’s most popular language-learning platforms in just two years. The site offers free courses in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian for English-speakers and in English for Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Hungarian, Rumanian, Japanese, Hindi and Indonesian speakers. Duolingo turns language learning almost into a game with scores, ratings and lives, like in videogames. Just like in a videogame, you lose points if you make a mistake, you have to race against the clock and you increase your level. Lessons are organised in small blocks. Once you’ve finished a session, you can move on to the next one or go back to work on your weaknesses with new exercises.

Available on the web in tablet and mobile versions, Babbel offers courses and exercises depending on your level of knowledge. Essentially, it records what you learn and the problems you have before suggesting relevant revision exercises. Registering for Babbel is free and you can take the first lesson in each course in every language free of charge. For full access to all courses however, you have to buy a subscription. Babbel’s online courses cover 14 languages (Danish, French, Indonesian, English, Norwegian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Brazilian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, German and Turkish) and include thousands of hours of teaching materials that are being constantly updated.

Dreamt up by four young people from Turin, registering with Fluentify puts you in contact with native English-speaking teachers for reasonably priced conversation classes without being tied to a subscription. The system is very simple. Each tutor has a profile that shows his/her country of origin and accent (British, American, South African etc.) along with a user rating and cost per lesson. To book a session, you just check the tutor’s schedule and make a payment. Sessions last half an hour and the cost varies from €7 for a test lesson to a maximum of €15. Tutors decide themselves what they want to charge.

Tandem Exchange is a free website that puts people who want to learn a language in contact with a native speaker. The aim is to let you talk and chat online or face to face. All you have to do is sign up and select the language you are offering and the language you want to learn. If there’s already a match on the site, you can contact them directly. Otherwise, you’ll be sent an e-mail when a possible partner presents. This creates a tandem: two people who meet to learn the other’s language. Contact is not required to be face-to-face as conversations can be by telephone, Skype, e-mail or chat.

Lingua.ly ( http://lingua.ly ) is a free system, also available as an app, for gaining familiarity with foreign words when surfing the web. Lingua.ly turns the web into a language-learning platform. While you’re surfing you can highlight words you don’t understand and add them to a sort of personal dictionary that you can change. Every word can be personalised with images or explanations. Lingua.ly can help you learn a language while you’re working and lets you greatly expand your vocabulary.

Did you already try other app to learn foreign languages or did you already use one those? Tell us what you think by commenting this post!

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