Apps & Online Learning
Interactive Programs, Social Networks, and Sites
Apps and websites make learning languages fun and can help supplement classroom experiences or introduce you to languages not offered in your area. The tools below are often offered on multiple platforms and many are free to use. They can also connect you to tutors, teachers, and a global community of fellow language learners. Why wait? You could get started today!
AnkiApp is a free mobile and desktop flashcard app that produces quick quizzes and tracks information the user already knows to save time.
An online subscription that saves lessons on the cloud, Babbel employs voice-recognition technology and real-life dialogue situations to get users talking right away.
BBC Languages (free)
BBC Languages is a website that aggregates vocabulary and grammar lessons, puzzles, quizzes, videos, news, and radio all into one handy location, organized by language.
This BBC course for absolute beginners is currently available in ten languages. The book or newly enhanced eBook can be accompanied by audio features on CD or DVD.
Brainscape (basic service is free)
A free online program, Brainscape allows users to find, create, and share flashcards in thousands of subjects; purchasing a “pro” subscription provides additional features and access.
Busuu (basic service is free)
Busuu offers a free basic level of instruction, as well as a “premium” online subscription that packs a college semester of language instruction into 22.5 hours—all in 10-minute bites.
Duolingo is a free online program that makes language learning a game: users earn points, race the clock, and track consecutive days of study. Duolingo Clubs, available on the iOS and Android apps, allow learners to join a team and compete with friends.
Available for download to use across devices or by CD, Fluenz incorporates videos, MP3s, and flashcards into language lessons; unlike full-immersion programs, Fluenz uses some English to help guide adult learners.
LingQ (free to start)
Based on the Linguist Method, LinkQ “links” users to an online community of language learners, incorporating written vocabulary, live interactions, and downloadable audio lessons; for unlimited access, users must subscribe to a paid service.
Living Language Passport is a travel-based online subscription for individuals or learning partners; lessons include an e-tutoring session with a native speaker.
Mango Languages (free at participating public librairies)
Free at participating public libraries (or for individual purchase), Mango Languages provides instruction and cultural insights for over 70 languages, both online and for mobile devices.
Memrise offers free online and mobile software in over 200 languages that allows users to compete with friends and create learning materials.
MindSnacks is a free app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad offering language games for both children and adults.
Mondly (basic service is free)
Mondly offers online lessons in over 30 languages (including those less commonly taught) focused on real-life situations—namely introductions, restaurant interactions, and travel or hotel check ins. They are also exploring how virtual reality intersects with language learning through their new app.
Using the scientific Pimsleur Method, Pimsleur offers their signature 30-minute audio courses by CD or MP3 in over 50 languages.
Available as a CD-ROM, downloadable software, or online subscription, Rosetta Stone creates language-learning programs trusted by millions of individuals and over 22,000 educational institutions.
Transparent Language Online (free at some libraries)
Available for free at some libraries, Transparent Language Online is an online subscription offering instruction in over 100 languages.
The Yojik Website compiles Foreign Service Institute and Peace-Corps language course resources, among others, for free use online.
KotoBuddy connects users with language-practice partners in their area—each listing a language in which they are proficient and one they are learning.
Lang-8 (basic service is free)
Lang-8 is a social network where users post work they have written in their target language for correction and in exchange correct the writing of others in their native language. For additional features, a “premium” option is available by paid subscription.
PenPal Schools is a social network that allows teachers to connect their students with another class of students around the world using a 6-week online curriculum. The small subscription fee automatically sponsors a class who cannot afford the service on their own.
Learners can find exchange partners and practice their language skills with native speakers for free by browsing the Tandem community (on mobile devices, not a web browser). For a fee, tutors are also available for 1-on-1 lessons.
WeSpeke is a free social network on which users practice conversing with native speakers by text, video, or audio; 30-minute lessons are also available for purchase.
Italki (free “exchange” option)
Italki users pay by the session to complete customized one-on-one lessons by video chat with a native speaker; users can also “exchange” time speaking their own native language for time practicing a target language with a partner in the community.
In addition to offering a large collection of free public domain language resources, Live Lingua offers paid Skype sessions with professional teachers in 11 languages. A personal class coordinator pairs individuals with their teachers to start the process.
MyForeignLanguageTutor.com uses Skype to connect students ages 5 to adult with native instructors.
Designed specifically for children, PandaTree offers one-on-one online video tutoring in Spanish and Mandarin; parents select 25 or 50-minute sessions.
Learners schedule 1-on-1 live online sessions with professional teachers in one of four languages, with the option of brief daily sessions for an immersion-like experience. Payment is by a flat monthly rate.
Available in Arabic, English, French, Haitian Creole, Mandarin Chinese, Sign Language, Spanish, and Vietnamese, Smart Coos connects young learners with specially trained native speakers for 1-on-1 language sessions.
Tutor.com provides 24/7 online access to a tutor in one of over 40 subjects (including languages Spanish, German, and French) for an hourly fee per month.
Verbalplanet uses Skype as the platform to connect language learners with native-speaker tutors from around the world.
With Verbling, language learners take lessons from professional teachers via video chat at very competitive rates. Learners can schedule their own lessons online after reviewing teacher or tutor profiles.
Wyzant students search through an online database of tutors to schedule in-person or online sessions.
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, bring classes taught at some of the world’s most renowned universities directly to you.
Interested in learning a language not offered at your high school or university? Want to practice or refresh some language skills you first acquired years ago? How about supplementing your current language studies with a better understanding of the culture, art, or literature of a different country? Just select a course, log in, and get started.
While they cannot replace the interaction of an in-person class experience, the advantages of MOOCs as learning tools are many. These courses are generally free of charge, without admission requirements, and flexible to suit your schedule and pace. For a fee, platforms also award certificates for courses (or series of courses) successfully completed.
For language learners of all ages, MOOCs make access to world-class educators—and the resources they provide—only a click away.
Browse language courses from Peking University, Yonsei University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and others. In addition to individual courses, Coursera offers multiple course “specialization” packages for those seeking to master a specific skill.
edX has partnered with institutions such as the Boston University, Tsinghua University, UC Berkeley, and Wellesley College (just to name a few!) to provide both high school and college language course offerings.
Individual language courses and multi-course “programs” are available through the Open University, the University of Groningen, and the University of Oslo, among other institutions.