Even though travelling abroad is off-limits right now, there's no reason we can't still be enjoying other cultures from our homes. And what better time to learn the language of the land you've always dreamed of visiting, so when you can visit you'll be able to experience it in full.
Our editors have always wanted to dabble in a language, but we didn't want to dedicate all of our time to it.
We wanted to find a way to make learning a new language fun, so we opted to try 4 of the most popular language-learning apps out there: Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, and Babbel.
- All four have an app for ease of use
- They all offer multiple languages- Duolingo offers 21 languages, Rosetta Stone offers 25, Memrise offers 22 and Babble offers 13
- Duolingo only requires 5 minutes a day, Rosetta stone is 10 minutes, Babble lessons are 15 minutes long, and Memrise doesn't give a recommended time length
- Duolingo is free to download (but with a lot of in-app purchases to get the full benefit), Rosetta Stone is £7.99, Memrise is £8.99 and Babble is £12.99 per month
- Duolingo focuses on a game-like format, Rosetta Stone focuses on teaching conversational vocabulary, Memrise uses digital flashcards and Babble uses the "Babble Method"- structured lessons that build upon the last
Duolingo, known for its cute green owl, claims to require the least amount of time per day out of all the apps we tested -- just 5 minutes a day. They offer 21 languages, and the app is designed to help users move at their own pace.
The lessons are fun, but a little game-like, and we found that they got old pretty fast. They didn't keep our minds interested or challenged after the first week, especially when you're just matching vocab words. While Duolingo is technically free to download, to access all of the features, you have to make a number of in-app purchases, which can rack up pretty quickly.
All in all, Duolingo is fun to use, but in-app purchases can be so frustrating - we almost wish it just cost money upfront.
Rosetta Stone is a really well-known name in language learning, and they have really upped their game in recent years with their feature-packed app. The lessons only take around 10 minutes - short enough to do during a morning coffee break. The app focuses on conversational learning, teaching you phrases, and vocabulary that you would actually use in a real-life conversation.
On top of the very engaging lessons, it's Rosetta Stone's next-level features that set it apart. The TruAccent feature listens to you speak out loud and helps you perfect your accent with the help of a circle icon that lights up green or red. We also love that you can download the bite-sized lessons and listen to them without wifi - perfect for an evening walk.
Best of all, you can structure your lessons to learn the topics that interest you the most first. There are so many different features and ways to learn, so we didn't get bored and always found ourselves wanting to spend more time on the easy-to-navigate app.
Rosetta Stone costs just £7.99 a month for a 12-month subscription or £189 for their Lifetime Access which gives you access to all 25 languages for life!
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Memrise's approach to language learning is a little different. It uses digital flashcards to teach you.
While flashcards are an enjoyable way to learn, constantly paying a couple more dollars to keep learning gets annoying and stagnant. Plus, the app appears to have a lot of issues freezing randomly, or needing to restart, so we had to keep stopping and starting lessons, which did not help the learning flow.
Memrise offers 22 different languages and costs £8.99 for the premium subscription. We found that Memrise lessons would be better suited to be an aide to someone who is already learning a second language on another platform or in school. They just felt more supplemental and less focused on learning the basics.
Babbel offers 13 languages and on-the-go learning from any of your devices. It uses what is called the "Babbel Method"- well-structured lessons that build on each other with realistic scenarios and interactive dialogues. We were excited to try Babbel because it claims to be "the fastest path to learn a new language."
We enjoyed it at the start, but we found their teaching method to be very inconsistent. While one of our editors learning French had a mostly positive experience, another learning Italian (who has an Italian partner) found the lessons flat, and worst of all, inaccurate.
Babbel costs £12.99 a month- the most expensive of the four.
Overall Winner: Rosetta Stone
We were looking for the language learning app that is most convenient, affordable, and interactive, and all of our editors agreed we enjoyed using Rosetta Stone's robust app the most.
It's easy to use, the lessons are bite-sized, and the sheer amount of different features meant that we never got bored.
There are some free options out there, but ultimately if you are committed to learning a second language in the most efficient way possible, Rosetta Stone is the one for you. We found ourselves picking up words and sentences easier with Rosetta Stone, and we can't wait to put it to the test on our next vacation!