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!
- Babbel – Learn 14 languages
- Learn Chinese by Brainscape
- Tandem — Language Exchange
- Chineasy Cards
- Busuu Language Learning
- Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages
- HelloTalk Learn Languages Fast
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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 with 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, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Norwegian, Polish, Hebrew, Esperanto, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Welsh, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, and Swahili. Oh, and English.
Duolingo can sync your progress between both iPhone and iPad as well, so you can start from one device and pick up where you left off on another. There is also the Duolingo Plus subscription that starts at $10 a month, which removes ads and includes other helpful features.
For a completely awesome, completely free way to start learning a new language, Duolingo is what you want.
Memrise currently supports Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Turkish or Danish, 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.
Babbel – Learn 14 languages
Babbel offers a series of different apps that let you learn many different languages including: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Polish, English, Indonesian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian. 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.
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.
Tandem — Language Exchange
One of the best ways to learn a language is conversational, which means, you need to converse with people, ask questions, and hear the language be spoken a lot. Tandem aims to help you learn a new language by teaching a language to someone else.
When you sign up for Tandem you can pick almost any language you want and set yourself some goals, the app will then match you with people that can help you learn your select language and achieve your goals. Here's the catch, you also have to help them learn the language they want and accomplish their goals. It's like a social networking platform for individuals who want to learn from each other.
You can send messages to each other, challenge each other to language test, and even video chat so you can both learn from each other in real-time.
You can download Tandem for free and get started, but there is a limit on when and how you can message your matched buddies. There are in-app purchases for a Tandem Pro subscription, starting at $10 a month, which get you unlimited translations, members near me, profile visitor insights, no ads, and more.
Do you prefer learning by visuals? Then Chineasy Cards is for you. With Chineasy, you'll get plenty of bright and colorful illustrations and associative learning to help you connect words to their meanings easier than in other apps. To make things easier to learn on the go, Chineasy's levels cover four to six words at a time, so it's not overwhelming and you can learn anywhere, anytime. After completing a lesson, you'll take a quiz to see how much you've retained and what you need to work on. Chineasy also has a Word of the Day, so you're always guaranteed to learn at least one new word daily.
While Chineasy Cards is free to download and use, you can also subscribe to Chineasy Cards Premium, starting at $2 a month or $20 a year, for new monthly levels, and over 1000 new words.
Busuu Language Learning
Want to learn a new language in just minutes each day? Then Busuu is designed for you. With Busuu, you get access to simple and effective language learning, while also having some fun. Busuu supports Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, Chinese and 6 other languages. There are preset study plans that will fit into anyone's busy schedule, and you'll be speaking like a local in no time. The lessons are fun and never overwhelming, and placement tests at the end will see how much you've learned. There is also a Travel Language Course, which is particularly helpful if you are planning on traveling to a foreign country soon and need to get the basics down beforehand.
Busuu Language Learning is free to download and use, but you do need a subscription (starting at $10 a month) to get access to all features.
Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages
Rosetta Stone is probably the biggest and most trusted name when it comes to learning a new language. What sets Rosetta Stone apart from other apps are these features: TruAccent speech recognition technology and the Rosetta Stone immersion method. With Rosetta Stone's immersion method, it's much easier to move from words to phrases to entire conversations in a seamless manner. Rosetta Stone also works offline, so you don't even need a data connection to keep learning.
Rosetta Stone is free to download and you can use it free for three days. After the trial, you will need to subscribe if you want to continue using it. Their subscription model starts at about $20 a month and goes up from there.
HelloTalk Learn Languages Fast
When you want access to the most languages available to learn, you should check out HelloTalk. It has over 100 languages available, so you can take your pick! With HelloTalk, you can learn by practicing the language with native speakers via text or audio messages. By putting you in contact with native speakers, they can help you learn the language the best way because they can correct your accent or grammar, and it's a great new way of seeing the world.
HelloTalk is free to download and use, but there is a VIP and Pro membership available for more features and benefits.
Beelinguapp is not your typical language learning app. With this one, you learn a new language through read-along audiobooks. That's right — just pick your language and choose your favorite short stories, children's stories, novels, or whatever else. You'll get the text in two different languages side-by-side, so there's no need to memorize languages and vocabulary, just your favorite text in an entirely new perspective. Sometimes all you need is a good read-along in order to learn a new language.
Beelinguapp is free to download and use. You'll get a handful of text to read for free, but more can be purchased through in-app purchases.
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!
August 2019: Added Chineasy Cards, Busuu, Rosetta Stone, HelloTalk, and Beelinguapp to the list. These are the best apps for learning a new language on your iOS device!
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.