A fun fact is that 75% of Americans do not have a second language, and only 20% of adults feel them fluent in any foreign language, according to YouGov. Yet, the majority of those polyglots know Spanish only — the most obvious second language for Americans. Barack Obama admitted that knowing languages is quite important, although he knows only English.
If you belong to 43% — less than half! — of Americans who believe that learning languages is important, Nerdify sent its best Nerds to find apps for learning languages that work. We took the most demanded choice.
- 🇩🇪 Best App for Learning German
- 🇫🇷 Best App for Learning French
- 🇯🇵 Best App for Learning Japanese
- 🇰🇷 Best App for Learning Korean
Nerdify values your time, so only one app is found in one category. That is how the best apps should be organized.
Why Do Nerds Think that Apps for Learning Languages Are Important
Apps are not the only way to learn a language, even if you prefer technology, but our Finance, Psychology and Finance Nerds stand for apps as the preferable way for the beginner. There are some aspects you should know before continuing.
Apps Are Cheaper than Alternatives but Have Good Value
Because bucks are the first concern we had, as students never have enough of them. As a complete beginner, you’ll be able to use everything you need in the majority of apps for free.
However, every app has paid functionality — like additional exercises, more tools, or customization. In some apps, you can disregard premium stuff (in this article, we’ll point out what you don’t need). In other cases, where features worth the money, app subscription will cost $10 per month on average.
The app costs $4–12 per month, if you need paid features, and are packed with the methodology. A student tutors without any valid experience charge $10–15 per hour.
Ten bucks are still money. However, if you check Preply in Jersey City (our random pick), you won’t find a German tutor for less than $12 per hour. Should you pick any less Western language like Japanese, you will find students who will be happy with $10 as they are still learning English, but services of someone experience will start from $20 per hour.
At the same time, there is no guarantee that these tutors will use a good teaching method — which is the correct utilization of your learning abilities and peculiarities. That’s the point of our second argument in app’s favor.
Apps Are Based on Verified Methods of Learning
Millions of dollars are spent yearly on educational research, and a good share of funds is dedicated to languages. The truth is that learning a language can be easy if the sequence of actions, workload, and exercises are selected correctly.
Moreover, they should be tested before passing them to actual students like you are going to be.
Here, apps for learning languages take a good share of praise in academic research. Back in 2011, the study pursued at Virginia University proved that apps make languages accessible as they eliminate the need for the excessive toolkit, such as books and dictionaries.
At the same, applications for languages easily include gamification and role-playing. The study by Berns et al. proved that these two elements provide motivation and interest for learners via small awards for challenges. As EUROCALL project states, the language app moves learners deeply into the language, so studying becomes effective even for those who don’t have a tutor and live classes.
Right what we need, isn’t it?
Best Apps for Learning German — Poly Lingual
Straight to the point — it’s Poly Lingual. It started years ago as Wie Geht’s, which is How It’s Going if you translate from German in English. Now it supports a variety of languages, but Nerds recommend German only.
You may have difficulties to google it (like we did), it’s currently the best German app on the market. Unlike big and renowned apps or services, it has a lot to offer.
First of all, it takes a very practical approach. Instead of burying students into grammar and rules right off the bat, Poly Lingual gives something you really want when you learn languages — competency. If you are a complete beginner, the app for learning German will guide you through greetings, etiquette, and introductions — the first thing you’ll do in any language.
Remarkably, Poly Lingual provides accurate pronunciations from the very beginning, so you won’t need to re-learn and waste time like it often happens with textbooks. Most importantly, it will help real Germans to understand you.
Gamification — although simplistic — is the best part of Poly Lingual.
When Nerds valued the most in Poly Lingual is gamification. Each lesson is very short and straight to the point, and then you can test yourself with a quiz. Also, it has a hangman game — you will need to spell phrases from lessons, and each time you make a mistake, an extra part of a hangman will be drawn!
Poly Lingual is on Android, iOS and also available is a website. All of them have free trials for first lessons — on the website, you don’t even need to leave your email to give a try! The website and apps synchronize if you have an account. So, it’s easy to start lessons on the road to classes and finish them in the evening, after work.
On top of that, the sweetest part is the price. For $2.99 per month or $9.99 per year, you gain access to ad-free experience and all lessons — in all languages. Currently, that’s the cheapest product among good apps for learning German. Moreover, the app is non-intrusive with its premium features — you may start learning for free, free from distraction too.
Warning — Poly Lingual will try to push its live tutoring service, called “Polly Ambassadors.” They are cheaper than usual tutors and are mostly staffed with native speakers. However, as a beginner, you don’t need them at all.
Best Apps for Learning French — Rosetta Stone
Just like Poly Lingual, Rosetta Stone supports more languages than French — it’s Spanish, Italian, German and English too. Moreover, it’s one of the most hardcore and comprehensive apps for languages ever seen.
That’s why we did not recommend Rosetta Stone for German — there are cheaper and better alternatives for beginners.
That’s not the case of French, however.
The point is that English and German are sibling languages in the Germanic family — they have similar words and logic. That is not the case of French, however, which is Romance family language. Pronunciation, grammar and spelling here are much more different, even though a vast share of modern English words is from French.
However, let us get straight to the point…
ROSETTA STONE AS AUTOMATIC ACCENT TRAINER, SO YOU WON’T NEED A TUTOR TO LEARN SPEAKING FRENCH!
As we don’t get any money for this review, we can be genuinely ecstatic about killer features.
When you train speaking via Rosetta Stone, it compares your voice with recordings of native speakers and then provides recommendations for improvements. It repeats until you learn to speak correctly.
Warning — there are some reviews about this feature is not working correctly with some iPhone models and Android phones. Check the compatibility of your device before any purchases.
On top of that, the French part of Rosetta Stone is filled with everything you need to get the language correctly from the beginning. Unlike other apps for learning French, Rosetta assumes a from-scratch approach. Hence, unlike in other best apps for learning languages, which teach you to translate from English to French, Rosetta Stone you will learn how to speak.
Which is, name objects, greet people, express your wishes and emotions, talk about arts and your job. And more.
That’s a bit uncommon, but as you pass the first steps, you will get accustomed to it. There is a lot of academic articles that tested Rosetta Stone, and they all conclude that its adaptive learning technique is effective — unlike in highly-marketed Duolingo. Also, apps and desktop version of Rosetta Stone synchronize, your learning can never stop.
Rosetta Stone has some shortcomings — price & credit card trial. Still, you can find your ways around.
The most intricate part of Rosetta Stone is pricing — it’s one of the most expensive apps to learn languages in this review. While the majority of apps allow 1-month subscriptions to try, Rosetta starts only with three months packet for $11.99 per one month. Should you seek a longer term, say one year, the price drops to $9.99 per month — but you still need to pay the whole sum ahead.
Even with 30 days money guarantee is it not the kind of freedom Nerds would want from an educational app.
Same applied with mobile apps — if you sign up for trial, Rosetta will automatically reserve $35.97 for three months of subscriptions, which are charged automatically when the trial ends.
Luckily, on Rosetta Stone’s demo page, you can interactively check all features of the app for free.
Luckily, if you are a student, you can opt for a student discount on Rosetta’s website. Also, active duty, reserve, guard and veteran members of the armed forces of the U.S. can get a Military discount. Nerds managed to find 20% off by simply googling “rosetta stone promo,” so you should try this way too.
Best Apps for Learning Japanese — LingoDeer
You may have noticed already that apps reviewed above Japanese — Poly Lingual has full compatibility, and Rosetta Stone supports some features. However, the best app for learning Japanese is LingoDeer — a project that focuses solely on Asian languages.
The best part of LingoDeer is that it understands all the difficulties that Americans and Europeans face learning Asian languages. It starts from an alphabet to make sure you read and understand hieroglyphs correctly — moreover, this app teaches you to write them. Together with a dictionary in your pocket, you can train drawing them as native Japanese do right on your phone screen.
You can learn to draw Japanese hieroglyphs, train pronunciation, pass visual novels. Level up as you continue, earn badges for streaks.
Training of words and phrases is also made intuitive and convenient. While there is a dictionary you can use (by drawing hieroglyphs you see with finger taps!), the majority of words are expressed by vivid cards — which are pronounced with a native speaker when you press them. When you level up, exercises become even more interesting.
For instance, take a look at a visual novel, which you can read further by completing exercises for vocabulary and grammar correctly.
As for price, you can complete the first introductory lesson in each language for free — with no ads, popups, or any other distractions. Should you want to continue, you can pay $9.99 for one month, $6.66 per month in 3-months packet, and $4.99/month if you are opt-in for an annual package.
If you complete your first lesson, you can also earn a discount — up to 30% upon occasion.
Hold On, LingoDeer is the Best App for Learning Korean Too
This application started as an Asian-focused alternative to Duolingo and TenguGo — and now LingoDeer nails them, like Nerdify nails education technology today. As you already know about its basic features, we may continue to explore this app in depth.
The pitfall is that Duolingo has no website version — for now, it’s limited to iOS and Android apps.
However, the strongest point of LingoDeer is gamification — the best implementation in this review.
The organization of topics in LingoDeer sways from the traditional approach in apps for learning languages, where you complete unit by unit and separate grammar from the vocabulary. Instead, each lesson contains multiple challenges, where you gain skills. This can be to ask the question or refer to different parts of the text. The latter is very useful when you read a Korean menu and want to ask about clarification!
LingoDeer remembers about what you passed already, and which difficulties you had. So, when you enter your “Review” section, the app will offer you a variety of exercises to refresh what you have learned.
This app for learning Korean can also be very motivating — your performance is tracked, and you level up and earn achievement like in a role-playing game. Nerds believe that the most valuable rewards are gained when you work in a streak by opening the app and practicing daily.
Adding a Korean course to LingoDeer is quite easy — and does not require additional charges.
As Nerd’s research was long, and this article is even longer, let us brush up what we’ve learned about apps for learning languages.
✅ Best German app — Poly Lingual. It’s cheap, offers proper pronunciation training, has engaging games. Avoid its paid tutoring feature.
✅ Best French app — Rosetta Stone. It has an interesting method and the coolest pronunciation training toolkit. It can be pricy, but you should try for a discount first.
✅ Best Japanese and Korean app — LingoDeer. Has interesting arrangements of lessons, perfectly manages difficulties of Asian languages, and provides the best gamification. The price tag is moderate, and there is a good discount upon the end of the trial.
Stay tuned and clap hard for this review!
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