Remember your foreign language classes in school? You spent hours studying vocabulary flashcards, taking pop quizzes, and struggling through speaking tests, but what do you have to show for it? You might remember a few words or phrases, but for the most part, you probably didn’t become fluent from your time in the classroom. That might be because you didn’t use free language learning apps!

For most Americans, English is the only language we know – only around 20 percent are bilingual. However, around the country, there are millions of people who can speak two or more languages – and they’re rewarded for it. Bilingual and multilingual individuals are likely to make more money than someone who speaks only one language. Their brains process memories more efficiently than monolinguals’ brains and they may even be healthier!

So what’s the secret behind learning a new language? As with any learned skill, it’s all about practice. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best free language learning apps available. We also examine scientifically proven strategies for language learning as told by famous polyglots, expert linguistics, and even show you how to learn a new language through immersion without breaking the bank. Curious? Jump to it here.

Best Free Language Learning Apps 

chart that compares free language learning apps for price, platform, and language

We’ve rounded up the best free language learning apps available on Apple, Android, and the web. These apps leverage scientifically proven learning strategies to help you learn a new language at your own pace and with your unique learning style in mind. 

The following apps are completely free to download, making it easy to test out basic features, interface, and usability. Keep reading to find the perfect language learning app for you!

Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps available – it offers over 30 languages to learn. This app gamifies the language learning process through levels, points, and rewards, providing users with an enjoyable alternative to more traditional language learning techniques. 

After downloading the app, users are prompted to select their desired language, as well as the main reason for learning it. Users can then take a placement test to gauge their current knowledge before beginning. 

  • Download: Free
  • Subscription: $9.99 per month
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web 

Drops

Drops is a fun, visually based app with over 40 languages and new ones added regularly. The app focuses on building vocabulary through simple mnemonics, engaging users in fast-paced games that last just five minutes. Drops uses voice recordings from native speakers to supplement pronunciation and auditory learning. 

Drops is free to download and use, but makes users wait 10 hours between lessons. To skip the wait, subscribe to the premium version.   

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $9.99 per month
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web

LingoDeer Plus

LingoDeer Plus, the companion app to LingoDeer, engages users in fun games and activities to improve retention of vocabulary. It features seven games designed to help you improve specific language skills with help from native speaker recordings, culture-specific designs, and more. 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $8.99 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android

Babbel

Babbel offers a more traditional approach to language learning, structuring progressive lessons that expand slowly over time. The app employs cognitive learning techniques to help users improve their comprehension, using dialogue and real human speech in each lesson.  

First-time users can choose from 14 different languages and will be asked to select their native language and interests. 

  • Download: Free
  • Subscription: $15.99 per month
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web

Rosetta Stone 

Rosetta Stone is one of the most well-known language learning tools available. Based on the original Rosetta Stone software, the app takes users through 30-minute sessions designed around your target language. 

Rosetta Stone’s app offers 24 languages with unique pricing structures. Interested users can subscribe to either three-month or year-long plans.    

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: Varies by length of time 
    • 3 month: $44.99
    • 12 month: $109.99
    • Unlimited: $199.99
  • Platforms: iOS, Android

Busuu

Busuu is the perfect app for language learners who already have a bit of experience with their target language. Whether you know a few words or can hold a conversation, Busuu puts new users through a simple placement test to determine where you should start. 

Busuu is goal-oriented, putting together a customized plan for users with specific goals and schedules. Combining auditory and visual elements, Busuu offers 12 popular languages. 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $9.99 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web

HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a unique language learning app that pairs you with a native speaker, letting you chat with them via text, voice, or video. To help you learn, HelloTalk includes built-in correction tools, an integrated translation system, and even a drawing feature! 

With over 150 languages and 20 million users, you’ll have no problem pairing up with a native speaker in your target language! 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $8.99 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android

Tandem

Much like HelloTalk, Tandem is a language exchange app that lets you find and chat with native speakers from around the world. Once your profile is approved, you’ll be able to match with a partner based on language, location, and even your interests! 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $6.99 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android

Falou

Falou mimics immersion learning by giving real-life scenarios to help you understand language. Using artificial intelligence and native speaker recordings, the app encourages you to start speaking right away. Falou features over 4,000 lessons and 16 languages. 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: $9.99 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, web 

Pimsleur

Choose from 51 languages when you use Pimsleur. The app gives lessons in podcast form, using the importance of auditory comprehension to fuel learning. Each 30-minute auditory lesson is downloadable and compatible with Alexa. For added convenience, users can choose “car mode” to safely engage in lessons while driving. 

Pimsleur is free to download and provides new users with a seven-day free trial. After that, users choose from an audio-only subscription or a premium subscription which features more interactive content. 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: Varies 
    • Audio-only: $15.00 per month 
    • Premium: $20.00 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web

Memrise

Memrise focuses on teaching users to speak casually, much like a native speaker. Incorporating video clips of real conversations, the app uses auditory learning principles to help users pick up on the nuances of pronunciation and accent. With 16 languages to choose from, Memrise promises to make language acquisition fun and engaging for users. 

  • Download: Free 
  • Subscription: Varies 
    • Audio-only: $15.00 per month 
    • Premium: $20.00 per month 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, web

Other Ways to Learn a New Language 

Apps aren’t the only way to learn a language. There are many proven strategies and tricks you can use to develop your skills. Finding creative ways to “immerse” yourself in a new language is crucial, especially if you don’t have the time or money to pack your bags and travel

Free Language Learning Sites

A quick online search will pull up hundreds of free language learning sites you can use to practice and perfect your skills. Here are a few of our favorites: 

YouTube 

YouTube is a great source for supplemental learning, listening to native speakers, and getting advice from expert polyglots and linguists. Additionally, there are plenty of YouTube channels that focus on culture, geography, and politics, so you can get a fuller understanding of your target language. 

Check out these YouTube channels: 

  • Langfocus: Founded by Paul Jorgensen, Langfocus centers on foreign languages and how they work, taking a deep dive into the linguistics of hundreds of languages and dialects. 
  • Lingosteve: Lingosteve is founded by Steve Kaufmann, a Canadian polyglot with over 20 languages under his belt. His channel features multiple playlists, each dedicated to a specific language. 
  • Luca Lampariello: Italian polyglot Luca Lampariello’s YouTube channel focuses on language learning strategies and study tips for specific areas like vocabulary and pronunciation. 
  • Geography Now: With over two million subscribers, Geography Now is run by Paul Barbato and offers a fun overview of individual countries. Each video covers a county’s unique traits, including culture, language, politics, geography, and more. 
  • Drew Binsky: This YouTube channel follows Drew Binsky as he travels the world, documenting his experiences with different cultures. 

Proven Language Learning Strategies 

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new language or already know a bit, these language learning strategies will help you work your way towards fluency. 

Adding another language to your repertoire is a major undertaking, but offers incredible benefits for your career, personal development, and even your health. Whether you want to learn a foreign language for fun or for a specific reason, there are plenty of free language learning apps and other resources that will help you get started. 

Be sure to also check out our favorite free online writing courses for other learning opportunities!

Sources

ScienceDirect | BBC | FluentU | Mango Languages | Smart Language Learner | Expat Den | QZ | Singju Post | Salary.com 

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