Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language!

Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new language!

Whether you're learning a language for the very first time or just want to brush up, these are the very best language learning apps for iPhone and iPad!

Looking for the best iPhone apps and Best iPad apps to help you learn a new language? No matter what language you want to learn, there are hundreds of options available in the App Store. Whether you're getting ready to travel the world or just feel it's important to know another language, it's never too late to learn. Luckily, the days of having to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for online or tape courses are long gone. However, that doesn't mean all language learning apps are created equal. These are the language learning apps for iPhone and iPad that we think are the absolute best!


Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language: Duolingo

Duolingo turns learning a foreign language into a game. The more answers you get correct, the more XP and Lingots, a form of in-game currency, you'll earn. You can also duel against friends if you choose. The main way Duolingo aims to teach you a foreign language is by repetition, conversation, and audibly speaking. If you go several days without completing any lessons, your skill level will fall and you'll have to go back and strengthen those skills again. This method means you stay motivated to practice regularly. Currently Duolingo offers free courses in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English and can sync your progress between both iPhone and iPad.

For a completely awesome, completely free way to start learning a new language, Duolingo is what you want.


Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language: Memrise

Memrise currently supports Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish completely for free. For those that are visual learners, Memrise should be right up your alley since it uses visual cues and puns to help you learn phrases and words. Each word or phrase is paired with memorable cartoons, sentences, or phrases that should help you remember what that particular phrase means. Typically each one has multiples so you can choose the one that sticks in your mind the best. Each time you've learned a few new words, Memrise then quizzes you on what you've covered to keep everything fresh in your mind.

Memrise is an excellent option for anyone who learns better through visual cues.

Learn Languages with Babbel

Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language: Babbel

Babbel offers a series of different apps that let you learn many different languages including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and more. Much like Duolingo, Babbel uses a combination of repetition, completing phrases, and repeating back phrases. You can set custom learning goals as well so you can stay on track. All your progress will also be synced between iPhone, iPad, and on the web so you can pick up where you left off from anywhere. To use Babbel to its full potential, you'll need a subscription which starts at around $11 a month for each language.

Babbel costs more than other options but offers a great way to learn and lots more advanced content.

Note: Not all languages are included in the Learn Languages app. Many other languages are also available as standalone apps. You can view all languages available by Babbel on their developer page.

Living Language courses

Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language: Living Language Series

The Living Language series by Random House offers many apps covering many languages spanning from Italian and English to Hindi and Korean. All courses have the same main interface and focus on completing sentences, learning new words, and testing your skills periodically. What I like about the Living Language series is that you can purchase a full course or individual sections. For example, perhaps you know enough of a language to bypass introductory courses. You can just buy the ones you need instead and save yourself a little money. The Living Language series is one of the only ones I could find that supported Arabic as well.

If you're just brushing up on a language or want more control over what you're paying for, the Living Language series of apps is a great choice.

Note: Not all languages are included in the course pack above. You can view all the language apps in the Living Language series via their developer page.

Learn Chinese by Brainscape

Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new foreign language: Learn Chinese by Brainscape

Learn Chinese (Mandarin) by Brainscape is not only beautifully designed, the layout makes it a lot easier to write and draw symbols. The hardest part of learning a language that requires you to draw symbols is having enough space on the screen that you don't feel awkward. This is something Brainscape has nailed rather well. There are also immensely helpful stroke order lessons that show you the most efficient and effective ways to draw symbols. There are also basic word and grammar lessons along with 5,500 flashcards. You can try Learn Chinese for 3 days and then you have the option to unlock all content for a $19.99 one-time purchase.

If you are trying to learn Mandarin Chinese, then Learn Chinese by Brainscape is an absolute must-have app.

Your favorite language learning apps for iPhone and iPad?

If you're currently learning a new language or you're brushing up on one you perhaps started to learn in school, what apps have you found helpful? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

More Posts



← Previously

How to quickly access your camera from Control Center on iPhone or iPad

Next up →

The Angry Birds pack their bags for a season in South HAMerica

Reader comments

Best iPhone and iPad apps to help you learn a new language!


I really appreciate this list! I'll be traveling again for the Coast Guard, so it'll be nice to learn a new language or two while I'm away from home. I had no idea these apps even existed for iOS, but I'll be sure to give them a try!!! Thanks, Ally!!!!

Great idea. I've been meaning to "re-learn" French after the 5 years I took in middle/high school. All I really remember is "Je m'appelle Guy, ça va?" - even though my name is not Guy (or, as it was pronounced, Gee).

And that was day one of 7th grade...

Plus, thinking globally, won't hurt to learn Spanish and Chinese.

Sent from the iMore App

Yeah I took 6 years of French between HS and college - when we were in France over the holidays it was apparent how much I forgot - so i'm current brushing up and re-learning things too!

I was showing my mom (who grew up in an equally French-Canadian/English speaking house) today. She was laughing at me talking to my phone. Duolingo is pretty good. Chinese (in Memrise) is going to prove difficult...

I've tried Duolingo quite a bit and wouldn't recommend it. It suffers from a problem many language learning apps do, in that it doesn't teach grammar or explain anything, it's really just for learning vocab. It also relies on crude speech synthesis rather than actual recordings, so if you're basing your pronunciation in how Duolingo says things, well. good luck with that.

A better flashcard type app is Living Language (they have variants for many languages). The Mind Snacks apps are also quite fun for a more game like vocab booster.

If you really want to learn a new language, try podcasts, or podcasts with accompanying apps, such as Innovative Language Learning. (this one of course, is far from free)

I love the Innovative Languages 101 app that goes with their courses. You will need a subscription to the online site, but if you are serious about learning a new language then it's worth it. The app let you download any course materials including the audio for learning on the go. It syncs back with the online site (and other devices including Android). The courses rock and they offer at the moment something like 33 different languages you can choose to learn. Compared to the cost of Rosetta Stone courses the monthly subscription can be a steal and they offer sales all the time (I have yet to pay for premium access at the full price and I'm paid through next year with the deals they have offered lately.

This is a great topic. I appreciate the all the options from the article and the comments. I need to brush up on my broken Spanish,, and take it a lot farther in my ability. Thanks!

Sent from the iMore App

For learning Chinese characters, there's nothing better than Skritter. But you have to have a subscription to use the service.

Best Chinese dictionary app, by far, is Pleco.

I use ThaiPod 101 to learn Thai and their companion Innovative app is pretty good but you need a subscription. Talking Word Search is helping me to memorise pronunciations and spellings and it's free to use . I'll try a few on this list out too, but finding good apps that support Thai is quite difficult.