Watch it on YouTube
Read the transcript
There are so many apps to learn a language, how do you choose the right one for you? Let’s talk about the top 5 foreign language apps in the industry and how to know which one to use.
1. Rosetta Stone
The first of the top 5 foreign language apps that I want to talk about in this video is Rosetta Stone. Now, when I surveyed you guys, I was really interested to see that literally none of you have tried and/or liked Rosetta Stone. So let’s talk about it.
Rosetta Stone is one of the OG language learning resources, and they are now completely online, completely digital. So you don’t have to spend like $500 for a CD set just to learn like beginner French. However, while the method of teaching you the languages has changed, the actual things that you’re learning have not changed. So what does that look like?
Rosetta Stone is really excellent at getting you to a tourist level of the language and a really confident tourist level, but a tourist level nonetheless. It keeps it pretty simple. But what I really like about Rosetta Stone is that it does not teach you through translations, it just teaches you meaning, which is really important, and what a lot of people do wrong in their language learning.
For example, if you’re learning Spanish and Rosetta Stone is teaching you “girl”, it’s not going to pair “la niña” with “the girl”, it’s just going to give you “la niña” and then a picture of a boy and a girl and hope that you can figure it out for yourself. I actually do really like Rosetta Stone for beginner language learners because you’re going to learn the language in all the different ways that you can. You’re going to learn to understand it, you’re going to learn to speak a little bit, you’re going to learn to write it a little bit, all of those skills all wrapped up into one.
However, you’re only going to get so far. Rosetta Stone is very, very slow. So if you try out Rosetta Stone and you get really bored just because it’s so repetitive, then it’s not going to be for you. But it is an excellent start.
The next of the top 5 foreign language apps I want to talk about is Babbel. The way that I like to describe Babbel, the app itself, is kind of like if you take a textbook, like a language learning textbook, and you make it more modern with an app because you’re going to get the same kind of information in very similar ways, but you’re not staring at a textbook. You’re interacting with your phone or whatever device you’re using.
But unlike using a textbook, Babbel also offers live coaching, and this is a separate payment structure and whatnot. But if you take advantage of Babbel Live and Babbel Live is supportive of the language that you’re learning, you have the chance to work with a professional tutor in group classes where you can talk about and practice the things that you’re using in the app.
Babbel Live is a pretty good segue into using the language in real life, but as opposed to something like Rosetta Stone, Babbel is much more focused on the grammar and the structure of the language. And Babbel is going to get you a lot farther, so it’s not going to stick you in beginner stuff and then just kind of keep you there. It’s going to really push you into more advanced use of the language. So if you want that, and you do like the textbook work, but you want it a little bit more modern and a little bit more engaging, then I recommend checking out Babbel.
The next app in the top 5 foreign language apps is Pimsleur. Pimsleur is similar to Rosetta Stone in that it’s been around forever and was first with, you know, CDs that you would listen to and you would repeat the words. It’s a technique called shadowing. But just like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur has also not changed its strategy at all. You literally just press play, and you listen, and you repeat what Pimsleur is telling you to say.
However, unlike Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur is full of English. There are a lot of English explanations. So if you want something a little bit more immersive, it’s not going to be beneficial for that. But regardless, Pimsleur is great for beginners and some people really like to just listen to Pimsleur kind of passively while they’re doing other things in life. They just kind of, like, passively repeat the phrases because even if it’s not active, it’s still beneficial, it’s still exposure. But there are no visuals, there’s no tactile anything. It’s pressing play and listening and repeating, and that is it. It’s very, very simple in that regard.
Number four of the top 5 foreign language apps is Busuu. Now Busuu is a kind of happy medium, in my opinion, between Babbel and Duolingo, which we haven’t even talked about yet. But just like Babbel, Busuu is pretty focused on grammar and pretty focused on like textbook knowledge, but with Busuu, you are encouraged to execute these lessons in more real-life situations using the Busuu community of other language learners.
For example, if your native language is English and you are learning German, it’s easy to find somebody in the community, find multiple somebodies in the community, whose native language is German, and they are trying to learn English. So the Busuu lessons and exercises themselves are pretty simple, like the actual learning of the concepts, it’s the execution of the concepts that Busuu is really great at because it uses all these real-life people to kind of give you a little bit of support.
And unlike Babbel, this level of support is included in a Busuu subscription because it’s using the community, it’s not using professional language teachers, it’s using other native speakers. And I mentioned it’s kind of like Duolingo because the exercises are very, very simple – the exercises when you’re learning the concepts, outside the Busuu community, is very pressing buttons, and that’s pretty much all you’re doing, which is fine as long as you’re also taking advantage of the community.
And as promised, the last of the top 5 foreign language apps to know is Duolingo. Now, when I polled you guys, I was not surprised at all to know that the vast majority of you are on Duolingo because it’s very easy, and it’s very addictive. It’s free, it’s accessible, it makes it easy for people to learn whatever languages they want.
However, this isn’t the first time that I’ve criticized Duolingo, and it’s definitely not going to be the last, but it relies too much on gamification. And I want to make sure that you are not stuck depending on it, because when we’re using Duolingo a lot, we really get addicted to maintaining our streak and to building up our XP and to winning competitions and all these little, little games that Duolingo has. It really keeps you addicted.
Now, this can be a useful tool for some, for sure, but I do want to make sure that you’re focused on the actual language and not just focused on the little games that Duolingo is playing because it is a tool to keep you motivated and supported in your language learning. But it’s just a simple tool, and many language learners find themselves stuck keeping up their streak, afraid of losing their streak full of anxiety and not actually learning anything in the language.
Of course, there are plenty of other apps that have similar gamification daily streaks, notifications, really fun, youthful graphics and colors, and all that kind of stuff that aren’t Duolingo. And if you visit my app search, then you can search for language apps that teach your language, that specifically have that level of – not that level of gamification – but have that gamification to give you reminders and keep you just a little bit more motivated and excited than you would be without it.
And that’s all I have to say about the top five foreign language apps. If you’re feeling a little bit better now about choosing the right foreign language app for you, again, I highly recommend using my app search, it’s totally free for anybody to use. It’s got all the apps mentioned in this video plus a whole bunch more.