2020's Best Language Learning Apps for Adults

Want to learn a new language this quarantine? These apps can help you

Learning a language gets harder with age.

It's the truth, unfortunately. According to a Boston-based study done by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, everyone's language learning ability declines significantly after 18. "There's roughly a period of being a minor that goes up to about age 17 or 18," said the study's co-author Josh Tenenbaum. "After that, you leave your home, maybe you work full time, or you become a specialized university student. All of those might impact your learning rate for any language."

However, that doesn't mean it's impossible. With gyms and bars closed and millions of Americans working from home, we all have a lot more free time these days. Plus, the wonders of technology make it easier than ever to educate yourself. The study estimated that it takes around 30 years to master a language fully, but who's to say you can't expedite that process and at least learn enough lingo to comfortably travel the world when this is all over? To help you get started, here's a list of the 5 most effective language learning apps on the market today.

Duolingo

Duolingo

There's a reason Duolingo has remained the go-to language learning app. Ranked as an Editor's Choice across the board, the app's sleek, intuitive design makes it one of the most accessible, impressive apps on the market. The program itself offers a step by step regiment that slowly builds upon itself, forcing users to continually review words and phrases previously learned.

They also do it in a fun way in the form of games and challenges that constantly rewards you and validates your progress in a cute, fun way. Additionally, Duolingo offers a slew of extra content. From podcasts and writing exercises to supplementary reading materials that all aid in enhancing your learning. Not to mention, all of this is entirely free.

HelloTalk

HelloTalk

While the HelloTalk regiment is vastly different from its language learning app predecessors, it has proven to be an effective program. It's much more social than any other app and offers users the options to chat with native speakers in real-time, so they can work on their conversation skills.

Meanwhile, the fluent partner aids in correcting your vocabulary and grammar along the way. The app also offers "classes" that help users understand the fundamentals of their chosen language, but the real draw of HelloTalk, of course, remains the in-person interactive experience.

Memrise

Memrise

Memrise's program method includes teaching vocabulary via cognitive understanding. The app uses mnemonics and offers memory aids via addictive phone-based games. Each game repeats learned vocab all while integrating the understood concepts with new vocab.

It makes it impossible to forget what you learned before and is perfect for learners who need a little boost or reminder from time to time. It does focus mainly on vocabulary, though, so Memrise is best if paired alongside an equally as intuitive grammar app.

Rosetta Stone

While a bit pricier than other language learning apps, there's a reason Rosetta Stone's name is so well known. It is one of the best language learning programs on the market. It's been around for years, and now with its enhanced new app, it's easier than ever to become fluent in a new language. The all-encompassing program focuses on vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing, and even pronunciation.

The tried-and-true method focuses on pairing words with the corresponding pictures, while grammar is taught via spoken exercises to conclude each lesson. It may be a little boring for those who are used to the fun game-style apps previously mentioned, but Rosetta Stone has always shown results, and it's worth it if you can afford it.

Mondly

Mondly

Based on those pesky required language classes you took in grade school, Mondly's method may not quite be on par with everyone's learning styles. But for those that thrived in that setting, Mondly should be at the top of your list. The program is broken down into specific language lessons, and it moves totally at your pace. While the exercises may not work for everyone, the app also offers multiple conversation-based tools and practices.


The app comes with its own speech recognition software, so it can directly correct your pronunciation and grammar. The app's price may be a little on the steep side ($50), but CNN mentioned the app was as effective as "a private language tutor," so it's definitely worth it.

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