Americans have a reputation for being culturally insular, but based on 2018 data from the US Census Bureau, over 67 million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home. If that inspires you to brush up on a new language for yourself, the good news is that it has never been easier. Gone are the days when you had to go to school to try to master French, Spanish or Russian; now you can use an app and have your pick from among dozens of languages.
The best language learning apps accommodate your personal learning style; some people are readers, while others prefer audio. Some folks enjoy games and drills. And for some people, speaking a language is more important than reading it. No matter what resonates with you, there’s an app to suit your needs. Most of these language apps are subscription based, so you only pay as long as you want to learn—or you can restart a subscription as needed to brush up before a trip abroad. (And don’t necessarily subscribe to any of these apps at full price. Language learning apps run deals on a regular basis, so you can usually find a discount, or wait and one will pop up. I’ve highlighted a few active deals below.)
We’ve rounded up the 10 best apps for learning a language. Read on for our recommendations to help you become fluent in your second or even third tongue.
- Best Language Learning App Overall: Babbel
- Best App for Learning a Language From Real Native Speakers: Memrise
- Best Free Language Lessons: Duolingo
- Best App Learning Accurate Pronunciation: Mondly
- Best Language Learning App for Mastering Real-Life Conversations: Speakly
- Best Language App for Learning Through Music: Lirica
- Best Language App for Learning on the Go: Pimsleur
- Best Language Learning App for Comparing Side-By-Side with Your Native Language: Beelinguapp
- Best Language App for Learning by Sound: Rosetta Stone
- Best Language App for Learning Through Games: QLango
Best Language Learning App Overall
We’re living in a golden age for language learning with so many online courses and mobile apps to choose from, but Babbel is the all-around best choice for many people. It breaks lessons into short, easily digestible chunks with interactive, quiz-like elements that keep you on your toes. There’s a modest selection of languages to choose from—13 in all—and you can get started for free if you don’t want to pay for a subscription (which ranges from $14 per month if you pay month-to-month to as little as $7 per month for an annual subscription).
Rather than offering cookie-cutter lessons that teach the same vocabulary and phrases regardless of language, Babbel customizes each set of lessons for the specifics of the language, country and culture. And in addition to the standard lessons you can take in a browser or in a mobile app, a paid subscription gives you access to live classes taught by real instructors as well.
Best Language App for Learning From Real Native Speakers
To help you master real-world scenarios, Memrise doesn’t limit you to flashcards, “click to hear” phrases and quizzes. Instead, Memrise lessons immerse you in videos that feature real-world situations with natives speakers using its “Learn with Locals” feature. This helps you understand words, phrases and sentences spoken by people with real accents, not speakers with flat or neutral emphasis. In addition, you’re evaluated on your own speaking skills with the Pronunciation Mode.
There are 23 languages to choose from with a free tier or a premium paid plan that’s $9 per month (or $7.50 per month for the annual plan). You can use Memrise online or using your phone’s mobile app.
Best Free Language Learning App
If your language needs go beyond the core set supported by most language app, you should investigate Duolingo. With 37 choices, the app includes some truly unusual options. If Polish isn’t exciting enough, try your hand at Navajo, Esperanto, or even Klingon (HIja’, teH.), and you can enroll in as many languages at once as you like. Within each languages there are lessons (which you can skip if you already know the material) and there’s a built-in game mechanic that encourages you go return to older content for practice and reinforcement.
But the wealth of content isn’t even Duolingo’s best feature; it’s also completely free, which is surprising given the volume of language and overall polish to the lessons. To remain free, the website and mobile apps are ad supported, though you can opt to pay $7 per month to remove the ads.
Best Language App for Learning Accurate Pronunciation
Mondly takes an innovative approach to language learning. Right from the start, the app’s lessons focus on phrases rather than individual words, which gives you practical tools for having conversations quickly. And if correct pronunciation is important, you’ll appreciate two aspects of the app: You get to heart native speakers, and you get to practice having real conversations with AI chatbots which use speech recognition to assess and coach your speech.
If English isn’t your first language, Mondly is particularly handy. Most language apps teach languages from English and possibly a small handful of other language options. But Mondly allows you to learn any of the languages from any of the other 33 languages in the app catalog. That can be pretty empowering.
You’ll need to sign up for Mondly’s subscription service to get more than a few free lessons, though. Pricing is $10 per month or a year for $48, however if you opt to purchase via StackSocial, there are some excellent deals you can snag now through February 23: A lifetime subscription to one language for $39.99 (usually $239); a lifetime subscription to three languages for $59.99 (normally $719); a lifetime subscription to five languages for $69.99 (normally $1,199); and a lifetime subscription to all languages offered by Mondly for $99.99 (normally $2,199).
Best Language Learning App for Mastering Real-Life Conversations
Looking for the ability to have conversations in a matter of months? You don’t have to jump into a crash course with immersion training; try Speakly instead. This app focuses on teaching you the 4,000 most statistically relevant words for common conversations in your target language—so the words will be different whether you choose French or German, for example. After you practice enough words, Speakly challenges you to interact with a pre-recorded native speaker and coaches you on your performance.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of languages available; English speakers can only choose from among eight languages, and Speakly itself is a European venture, so billing is in Euros, not dollars (though plans start at about $13 per month). But if you’re interested in the full language suite for a hefty discount, see StackSocial’s lifetime access deal for $70 (was $399).
Best Language App for Learning Through Music
Many people approach language learning with all the enthusiasm of going to the dentist. But what if you could learn a language musically, using popular music to learn vocabulary and grammar? That’s the idea behind Lirica, which leverages the fact that you tends to immerse yourself in great music, no matter what language it’s in.
Lirica drills you with exercises based on hit songs from popular artists and helps you master not vocabulary and grammar, but learn culture along the way. Currently, Lirica has content from artists like Shakira and Enrique Iglesias, and you can sign up for Spanish or German (with more languages coming). You can try it starting at $8 per month, or opt for StackSocial’s deals on longer subscriptions: $19.99 for 1 year (was $29); $34.99 for 3 years (was $89); or $49.99 for a lifetime subscription (was $149).
Best Language App for Learning on the Go
Pimsleur is one of the oldest language learning offerings available—these lessons date back to the days of cassette tapes and CDs. And indeed, Pimsleur is primarily an audio experience; you can think of it like learning a language by listening to a podcast. The experience has been modernized and you can now take Pimsleur lessons via mobile apps, but believe it or not, the audio CD version of the course is still available, if you want it.
The key to Pimsleur is following its instructions as closely as possible, which includes taking a lesson each day and repeating phrases when prompted by precise native speakers. There are some printed materials (in the form of PDFs) but virtually all of the Pimsleur coursework is audio, making it great to do while driving or otherwise on the go. Subscriptions start at $15 per month.
Best Language Learning App for Comparing Side-By-Side with Your Native Language
Beelinguapp does something few, if any, other language apps do: It focuses on reading and reading comprehension, and leans into longer texts rather than short text snacks and snippets. And while that’s handy, Beelinguapp isn’t really a standalone language app. It won’t do drills or flashcards, and won’t teach you to speak or correct your pronunciation. So this is an app best used if you’re already learning a language or in conjunction with another app (it pairs nicely with apps like Babbel or Memrise, for example).
The app lets you browse for texts that interests you and then shows it, split screen, with the same content in English. You can even have it read aloud as you scan it. You can do a lot with Beelinguapp for free, and there are a lot of paid and subscription tiers you can take advantage of as well—including a $39.99 lifetime subscription deal if you purchase via StackSocial (normally $100). There are a dozen languages to choose from for pairing with your English content.
Best Language App for Learning by Sound
While not quite as old as Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone is nonetheless among the oldest and best-known language learning systems still around. And its longevity is an indication of how well it works. Now fully modernized into a mobile app expereince, Rosetta Stone has a number of different modes, including a lesson style that mimics how you’d learn immersed in a foreign culture without access to English, such as by associating spoken words with images on-screen, without any direct “this is that” connective tissue. When you achieve a certain level, you can also sign up for live streamed classes with a tutor. The app also has an augmented reality mode that shows you the word for items it can see using the camera. That’s in addition to the usual drills and traditional lessons, of course.
Rosetta Stone offers about 23 languages in addition to English, and you can subscribe for $12 per month or $8 per month for an annual deal. You can also sign up for “lifetime” subscriptions, which pay for themselves if you use the service diligently for more than two years or so.
Best Language App for Learning Through Games
No matter how old you are, learning is often easier when it’s in the form of a game. Qlango leans into gamification by teaching you a new language through activities that feel more entertaining tan simple flashcards and drills. The app offers about 40 languages and each lesson is designed to be fast and snackable—no more than 5 minutes each.
Qlango tries to keep you focused on learning the rudiments in a number of ways. The app helps you set up a weekly learning plan to help you track your progress and stay on track, and once you’re in a lesson, for example, all your answers are in the language you’re learning, immersing you in your studies. The app also emphasizes vocabulary words that are most important to conversational speaking.
You can choose from among about 30 languages and learn any language from any other language—like Mondly, you don’t have to consider English your home base to master your new language. Unlike most other language apps, Qlango wants you to get a lifetime subscription rather than paying monthly, which you can do for $45 (normally $90).