Learning a new language is an exciting hobby to pick up. Whether it be for travel or just for your own knowledge, it’s super important as global citizens to know at least some of our neighbours’ languages. But with so many language learning apps available nowadays, how do you decide which is the best for you?
From Japanese to French, from Afrikaans to Wiradjuri, here are ten of the best apps, games and courses for learning a language that you can access right from your phone or tablet.
Learn Indigenous languages
The Wiradjuri Dictionary was developed by the Wiradjuri Study Centre and RegenR8, an NGO focused on protecting language and culture through technology.
This app explores the language and culture of the Wiradjuri people and contains common phrases and words with a dictionary for easy reference.
You can search in Wiradjuri and English or use the traditional search of images.
The Dharawal Language and Culture App was launched just last year by the Gujaga Foundation through its Dharawal Language Program.
The app seeks to further enhance the progress made to reclaim the Dharawal language and share their cultural knowledge with broader society. It also serves as an important touchpoint for future Dharawal generations so they can readily access knowledge about their culture.
Dharawal language, according to the app, spreads from coastal Sydney to the Illawarra. It was also the first known language name identified in the greater Sydney area.
This app educates you on the different Indigenous cultures and heritage protocols right across Australia.
Welcome to Country gives the user a greater appreciation of the many cultures and language groups that exist in Indigenous Australia.
The language app also teaches users some simple, relevant information about Indigenous cultures and the customs of the tribe within that country.
Language apps for beginners
This language app lets you explore over 100 languages and hop on board a learning journey like no other app offers.
With Memrise you actually learn through video examples of the language being used in real life so it’s a great way to quickly pick up local quirks if you’re travelling abroad.
Memrise uses a technique called language acquisition which ensures you’re learning and retaining your new language skills in the most effective way possible.
If you’ve been wanting to learn a new language, you probably didn’t immediately think of a podcast.
But iTunes has a whole bunch of learning podcasts that you can check out to help you build up your confidence in learning a different language.
A language podcast is also a great way to build on your skills if you’ve already learnt bits and pieces of a language because it can be like you’re having a conversation with the podcaster.
For the same reasons listed above, learning a language through a podcast is a great way for beginners to start their journey.
Audible have over 15,166 titles so there is more than enough choice and plenty of languages you can start learning.
You can also see what the most popular audiobooks are in the language learning section so you know what’s worked for others and what hasn’t.
We can’t have a list of language learning apps and not include the iconic green bird app, Duolingo.
The app is great for language learning beginners because of its bite-sized lessons in a wide variety of languages, including some endangered native languages.
Duolingo is great for those wanting to build up their knowledge and simple sentence structures. You can compete against other people on the app too, so it’s a good way to stay on top of your lessons and climb the leaderboard.
Language apps for advanced learners
While the other apps provide a more holistic learning approach, Innovative Language 101 focuses on lesser-known dialects like Afrikaans and Swahili.
It teaches 34 languages with personalised video and audio lessons made by real teachers.
This is a great way to get to know a language more intimately than the other beginner apps.
The reason we put Babbel in the advanced learner’s section is that you have to pay to access different subscription tiers. I don’t know many beginner language learners who would pay for an app.
Like Innovative Language 101, Babbel has video and podcast lessons built into the app.
Interestingly, Babbel was the world’s first language-learning app and is also the best-selling (according to them, at least).
Babbel also teaches you a language by building on the foundation you’ve already learned.
Probably one of the lesser-known language learning apps, Busuu creates personalised study plans in a wide variety of languages. By using smart technology, Busuu highlights what areas you need to build on and when.
The best part about the app is that you are in control of your study plan and isn’t as demanding as other apps might be which is great for people who are already confident in a language and don’t need daily lessons.
There’s also access to over 10,000 qualified teachers who can give you a 1:1 lesson or group classes.