As the lockdown continues, many of us found ourselves having a lot of free time. Some even started to feel bored or restless. We know that many of you struggle in this situation. However, SOLVVE stays on the bright side and believes that the best way to fight these feelings is to focus your attention on something pleasant and useful.
How about learning a new language? In this article, we overview some of the language learning applications to help you choose the one that suits your needs the best. Before we do so, let’s talk about what language learning is and what to pay attention to when choosing an application.
Acquiring a new language
Adult learners acquire language differently compared to children. For one, most adult learners reside outside of the country and a family setting where the target language is a primary communication option. Secondly, as a result, there are fewer opportunities to actively consume and practice a language. Finally, often learning a new language is more of a hobby than an acute necessity, so it is easy to lose motivation and hard to figure out the best learning strategy. That is why it is challenging to fully immerse in studying and stay productive.
However, it is not impossible. It is important to remember that proficiency in each language consists of four core skills: reading, speaking, writing and listening comprehension. Each of these sections will require a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Each of these six aspects of the language should get enough of your focused attention. It is up to you if each of your learning sessions will include all of them or if you want to work on one of those at a time. Yet, regularity if the key. And this is where language learning applications come handy.
There are many specialized applications out there and it is easy to get lost in all the available options. Below you will find an overview of the apps, including which aspects of the language it helps to develop and what makes each particular app stand out from the rest.
SOLVVE’s pick of the language learning applications
It is a trendy language learning application that is especially good for beginners. Duolingo has predetermined courses for a variety of languages framed as fun exercises to develop your vocabulary using flashcards, listening and pronunciation checkups through mockups done by native speakers. Moreover, it has brief grammar introductions to support your learning of sentence structure and words’ declinations making it one of the very few applications that cover all six aspects of the learning process to a different degree.
You can set your learning goals and match them with how much effort you are ready to put in to receive a perfectly balanced custom program for you. Bonus point to this application for teaching you in your native language.
What we love about it: the best option for beginners since it covers all the aspects of language learning in one’s mother tongue.
It might be your number one choice when it comes to vocabulary acquisition at any level. Built around a spaced repetition method, Memrise is a booster not only for remembering meanings of the words but also for their spelling. Some of the exercises include writing down words or phrases while the platform can detect misspellings.
For each language, you will find multiple courses based on published books or created by other users. In such a way, you can choose one or multiple tracks to match and support your learning program. To keep your motivation up, invite friends and see how you compare on a leaderboard.
What we love about it: you can pick up new vocabulary really fast, even specialized ones, e.g. specific profession.
Focused on college-level English this application combines the best aspects of an eBook and audiobook. Simple in its design and navigation, WholeReader is a must-have for intermediate and advanced learners aiming to make a dash forward in their language skills. What makes this one special is its very narrow focus on reading skills and vocabulary acquisition.
With WholeReader you get access to a collection of acknowledged classics of world literature and can study the language while reading and listening to the recording at the same time. You can also easily navigate the text with a special bar to get precisely to a sentence or even a word that you need and the audio will adjust accordingly. A progress bar will let you know how much you have already mastered and how much is left to give you a clear perspective of your achievements.
What we love about it: boosting your reading and listening comprehension to a high level with sophisticated vocabulary.
The first port of call for those who focus on writing. Unlike the vast majority of applications, Lang-8 comes to the rescue with middle-to-long texts. Duolingo might prompt you to write and recognize short sentences, and then the system will assess the correctness of your answers. However, dealing with longer forms requires human input.
Also, let us not forget that written and spoken languages differ. Even if you are a proficient speaker, writing still might be a challenge.
Lang-8 allows you to connect with native speakers or proficient users of the target language who can check your texts, fix them and provide feedback. If you are really into examining minor differences in word meanings or specifics of grammar, you can also turn to Lang-8’s younger sibling HiNative to ask language-related questions.
What we love about it: focusing on writing skills in a native language environment.
That one application that will keep your speaking to an amazing level. Hello Talk looks similar to a messaging application making it easy and comfortable to start using it. At the same time, it is packed with language-learning tools, such as translations, transliterations, corrections and pronunciation audios to name a few.
You can start by chatting with a native speaker to move at a paced tempo that fits your level of knowledge and confidence in your skills. For those who feel comfortable enough to talk in a foraging language, Hello Talk offers video calls and voice recordings to communicate with your language exchange partner the way you would do in real life meeting them face-to-face. No pun intended.
What we love about it: focus on speaking skills with real people in real time.
As you can see there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to language learning applications, which in the end is a good thing. What you need as beginners will change once you’re at the intermediate or advanced level. Some skills will level up faster than the other. An even distribution of exercises among all aspects of the language might change in favor of a skill-focused language learning to bridge the gaps or keep you entertained and engaged for longer.
If you have ideas about how to help language-learners with your product, be sure to contact us. Let us make it happen!