8 Best Language Learning Apps You Should Try

If you’d like to be able to learn a language on the go, we’ve got a headache-saving shortcut for you — we have researched and tested the popular language learning apps currently to string together a list of the 8 most viable and credible options. Now read on to find out what are the 8 best language learning apps!

What We Look For in Language Apps

1. Language-specific curricula

A good program should have course plans that are unique to the languages. So make sure to compare their Korean curriculum with their, say, Spanish curriculum.

2. Audio quality

Does the program use text-to-speech audio or real recordings by native speakers? Needless to say, your goal is to speak like a real human, not a robot.

3. Contexts and explanations

Words are not like numbers that you can simply plug into any formula. A good course should explain when and how to use speech elements clearly.

4. Exercise design

Does the program prompt you to think and use what you’ve learned? Exercises that don’t test a skill strategically are ineffective.

5. Value

This is relatively subjective, but sort customer reviews by “most recent” to see if there are more warning signs.

Each app has its own perks and purpose, so take a look at the details for each app down below and see which you’d like to try out.


1. Duolingo: Largest Community for Language Learners

Duolingo: the best language learning app for casual learners

Memberships for Duolingo, the most popular language-learning app available, start from $0. That’s right — you can get started for free. The game-like experience and creative (sometimes threatening) notifications do a great job at motivating you to stay on track and maintain consistency.

Duolingo’s teaching method is a ‘laissez-faire’ system, meaning that users are expected to figure out the patterns and rules through repetitive translation exercises. Since its courses are created by volunteers who may or may not be trained in language pedagogy, the quality of the lessons is not guaranteed and will likely vary. Many complain that they come across bizarre sentences and/or ineffective exercises, while the robotic audio can prove rather unpleasant and demotivating. To summarize, Duolingo is best suited to casual learners who are looking for a free option and not in a hurry to progress.

2. LingoDeer – Best Standalone Language App

Best Language Learning Apps LingoDeer

LingoDeer is the nerdy cousin of Duolingo’s green owl mascot. His black-rim glasses give him the look of a shining GPA 4.0 student, which is reflected in the app’s incredibly high 4.8/5 user rating. Its logical curricula, effective exercises, clear audio and grammar explanations offer a new approach to language apps.

Each unit offers substantial “learning tips” with examples and explanations, which are crucial for learning languages that are very different from your own. For the Asian language courses, it even allows users to switch between writing systems. In every detail you can tell LingoDeer is very serious about teaching.

So, why isn’t LingoDeer more popular than Duolingo? The answer is simple: it isn’t free, and it’s fairly new. LingoDeer was introduced in 2017 and its memberships starts at $9-15/mo. However, the quality of language learning can be more accurately guaranteed than that of free providers, seeing as LingoDeer has been developed by qualified linguists.

Overall, LingoDeer is best for users who want to learn with a more logical, block-building approach and progress more efficiently. LingoDeer also provides a practice app LingoDeer Plus with which you can practice a variety of language skills intensively.

3. Anki: Best Free SRS Flashcard App

When it comes to memorizing new vocabulary, Anki is the specialist you should employ. The great benefits of using Anki are rooted in the use of SRS (Spaced Repetition System). Getting started with Anki does require a bit of patience, but there are plenty of pre-made vocabulary packs that you can import directly. So, Anki is recommended for those who are cramming for tests and hope to expand their word bank rapidly and strategically.

Anki: Best SRS Flashcard App

4. Drops: Best Vocabulary Game

Drops is the direct opposite of Anki – simple to use and visually engaging. New words slide down from the top of the screen like raindrops, and you get two options: discard them because you already know their meaning or add them into the little brain icon. For the words identified as new, you are then prompted to associate the words with the right illustrations, spell the words by ordering the syllables and repeat these small exercises a few times.

Unlike Anki, Drops does not give you the flexibility to create your own list or add any word to the lists curated by the Drops team. To make sure that you memorize them in the long run, you will also need to review the words on a regular basis. It is a suitable app for casual learners to pick up a few words every day, a learning style that resonates with the saying “many drops make an ocean.”

Drops screenshots

5. Babbel: Best European languages learning app

Babbel is also a language learning app that offers paid courses and, like LingoDeer, allows you to learn whenever and anywhere you like. Moreover, Babbel majors in offering more niche European languages such as Danish and Dutch. In addition, the internal game is somewhat motivating, as you can earn bonus time after meeting your daily goals!

Similarly, Babbel has its own drawbacks, such as the absence of popular Asian languages like Japanese and Chinese. Meanwhile, although Babbel offers systematic grammar teaching, the lessons are less articulated and less suitable for beginners. Another big flaw is its price. While LingoDeer costs $119 to buy the lifetime membership, Babbel costs $388 to unlock for only a single year, which many users find prohibitively expensive.


6. LingQ: Best for Immersive Learning

LingQ’s motto is “Nobody can teach you a language, you have to learn it yourself”, implying that anyone learning a language is the utmost expert in what they know or do not. The lesson begins with a text of your choice. Words that are supposedly unfamiliar are highlighted in blue. Then, you link these blue words to the translations submitted by the LingQ user community (hence the name of the app, which is actually pronounced “link”). The blue words then turn into yellow and reappear in following lessons. As you get more and more familiar with the words, you can then mark the words as known.

LingQ’s method requires a complete beginner to work through texts with plenty of new words independently. For this reason, LingQ is better suited for intermediate students who already know the basics of the language.


7. HelloTalk: Best Language Buddy Finder

HelloTalk is one of the best tools out there to feel like the whole world fits in the palm of your hand. The idea behind the app is a very simple concept: chat with natives and exchange feedback. It is a WhatsApp look-alike tool just for the language learning community.

HelloTalk screenshots

What makes it really interesting are the features that instantly translate, look up words or correct mistakes in the messages you exchange. And it also has a news feed like Facebook’s where you can read short posts shared by your language buddies and get corrections and comments. For intermediate or advanced students, it is a virtual immersion program at your fingertips.

8. Memrise: Best learning in real situations.

The most significant advantage of Memrise is that it offers many recorded videos of native speakers. This helps you to experience and quickly master each phrase through real situations. Also, Memrise contains built-in incentives, such as setting memorization as planting the flowers and setting review as watering. Furthermore, Memrise pushes you to think deeply rather than simply memorize. In the few minutes of each learning, you need to be 100% committed to grasping a new foreign language’s idea.

Unfortunately, although Memrise boasts of being a course designed by linguists, many learners still point out faults during learning. Simultaneously, the courses for some languages lack systematization, such as Arabic, where words are not marked in singular and plural. It requires a certain level of identification on learners. Likewise, there is no practice for French verb conjugations, as long as learners memorize them according to sentences. For example, “Je parle l’anglais.” is studied without mentioning that the original form of parle is parler.

Final Thoughts on Learning Languages with Apps

On both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, there are hundreds of language learning apps to choose from. However, it is really time-consuming to download each one of them and test them out. As app developers ourselves, we can tell the developers of these eight apps genuinely understand the true needs of language learners, as is reflected in the effectiveness of their applications.

We hope our review has helped you to understand their unique specialties and how to make most out of apps in general when learning a new language.


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3 years ago

Hey you missed to include MEMRISE app. It’s one of the best app for leraners.. It’s a must to be here

3 years ago

A membership to LingoDeer is not $3-4/mo, I was interested when I read that but when I went to the membership screen to buy it was listed at $11.99 a month, not $3-4 a month 🙁

Alvin B
Alvin B
3 years ago

Important to note Lingodeer teaches Spanish as it is spoken in Spain, not Latin America. The accent is way off to anyone in the Americas and there are vocabulary and even grammar differences. Advanced students will recognize that but for beginners it should be noted up front as it can leave you sounding like a fake European.

3 years ago
Reply to  Alvin B

Thanks for the info

3 years ago

Hello there, thanks for the suggestions and the nice little overview for each of these apps. I have to admit I haven’t heard of most of these apps. I’m especially interested in the language exchange apps to practice my Japanese. I despirately need to practice speaking aster years of self learning…
I just heard about Lingodeer last year, but I got lucky and got a special promotion. I got a one year membership for only about 20USD and for that price… well it’s just amazing. It makes it around $1.67 per month.
Honestly I feel like Duolingo just isn’t worth the money. The grammar side of Lingodeer is great and a big step up in comparison to Duolingo too.

3 years ago
Reply to  Monsier

Almost same here!

3 years ago

I use italki for my tutoring platform. Preply is good but their prices are generally much higher. One thing italki has is to different categories of teachers Informal Tutors and Professional Teachers. If you are just looking for speaking practice the informal Tutors are native speakers that cost less than Professional Teachers. However, for those beginning in a language, Professional Teachers are much more knowledgeable.

3 years ago

I feel like it’s important to note that a lot of people on HelloTalk don’t use it as intended and can be frustrating for people who are new to the app. They also added some language lessons on the app now.

I personally like Tandem because they are more strict with the users and they offer an in app tutoring system for the language you’re learning.