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So, you want to learn Spanish, but you’re finding the choice between language learning apps to be muy confuso. Or, maybe you’re visiting Paris and want to speak the native language to fit in with the French? What are the best ways to learn a language without living immersed in the country’s language and culture? Language learning software!
- Top 5 Reasons To Learn A New Language With An App
- What Is The Best Language Learning App?
- Language Learning Comparison Table
- What About Babbel, Mango, And Rosetta Stone?
- What's The Best Language Learning Software For Me?
- Use Your Language With Locals – Immerse Yourself In An Adventure Vacation!
Why should you choose language learning software over traditional college courses?
- College courses are large and impersonal. Software is individualized to you and your specific learning style and needs.
- College courses can drag on or go too fast. With software, you have control over the speed of the course—if you need more time to review or skip through a lesson.
- College courses focus more on grades than whether you’re truly learning the language.
- College courses and textbooks are expensive, whereas software is much more affordable.
- Classes take time to travel to and maintain a set schedule. Software learning allows you to control when and where you learn.
It’s time to pick a company, but choosing the best language-learning tool for your needs can be challenging. The marketplace is filled with brands offering different techniques, formats, and price points, so we dissected several leading programs to help you choose the best software. Note: Our review is geared towards learners who speak English as a first language.
Best For Audio Learners: Pimsleur Review
Pimsleur’s method is solely based on audio learning, replicating how you learn a language as a child. Dr. Paul Pimsleur developed The Pimsleur Method while researching memory, specifically how interval recall could be used to understand quicker. Pimsleur courses deliberately limit the amount you can learn at once, allowing your brain to internalize each item before moving on. Each Pimsleur course is held within the context of a conversation in the language you are trying to learn. Pimsleur is so confident in its program that it guarantees spoken proficiency if you complete the first 30 lessons of one of its programs.
I received access to their Unlimited online software in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed the experience. The lessons are around 30 minutes long, and with one a day and 30 lessons total, you could do one level per month. The Unlimited plan also comes with an iPhone or Android app.
You can use the app to track your progress and do other interactive reviews and engaging exercises to reinforce what you’re learning via audio. Pimsleur works well for people like me who are audio learners (or have long commutes and can practice in the car).
Pimsleur offers an app that includes a seven-day free trial. After that, the basic audio-only subscription plan costs $14.95 per month, or $19.95 per month for the premium subscription plan, which includes flashcards, speed rounds, and other bonus learning tools. Pimsleur offers an All Access plan for $20.95, giving you access to 51 languages simultaneously.
|Simple “Listen and Learn” technique
|Doesn’t teach reading or writing
|Uses native speakers
|You may get bored and “tune out” if audio learning isn’t your preferred method
|Teaches conversational phrases, not tourist phrases
|No clicking; great for car commuters
|Great for learning to speak and understand spoken language
- Spanish Level 1: $150
- Spanish Level 1-5: $575
- Audio-Only Subscription: $14.95 per month (one language)
- Premium Subscription: $19.95 per month (one language)
- All Access Subscription: $20.95 (all languages)
Widest Range of Languages: Instant Immersion Review
What’s appealing about Instant Immersion is its large section of languages at a low price. Instant Immersion’s software works on older computers, which is handy if you don’t upgrade systems often. The interface isn’t “snazzy,” but it does the job. Of course, that’s if you don’t have issues with the software. Our research shows that many users have purchased Rosetta Stone to compensate for what Instant Immersion lacks.
Instant Immersion breaks its learning sessions into 10-minute chunks. For each section, there are ten modules to work through. The software includes record and playback technology for practicing pronunciation. It also offers a chance to video chat with native speakers and a dictionary for offline learning.
|Lots of memorization
|126 languages available
|Lack of immersion learning
|Uses audio and video featuring native speakers
|Lack of lesson focus
|Not all formats are available in all languages
|No mobile app
- Audio Crash Course: $9.95
- Audio Complete Course: $29.95
- Software Course Level 1: $29.95
- Software Course Levels 1, 2, & 3: $44.95
- Workbooks: $14.95
Best Free: Duolingo Review
Duolingo is a completely free website and is also available as an app, making it easy to use on the go. You learn by playing short games, making it fun and easy to squeeze into downtime—like when commuting or eating breakfast.
Duolingo focuses more on phrases than words, which may be positive or negative depending on your end goal and learning style. Duolingo is great for those who live busy lives and want to test out learning a new language before taking it seriously and committing more money.
While Duolingo is still free, it now offers two subscription plans that give users personalized practice options and no ads.
|Free to use
|Repetition can be tedious
|Progress reminders and rewards
|Lack of immersion learning
|You can compete against your friends to hold yourself accountable
|Only for basic learning
|Great for absolute beginners
- Super Subscription: $7 per month (first two weeks free)
- Super Family Subscription: $10 per month (first two weeks free)
Fluenz is best known for its Spanish learning program for English speakers, although they offer six other languages. Many users prefer Fluenz over other software programs because it makes them feel like they are taking an actual class with a teacher but in their own time and at home. Fluenz formulates its content to mimic the classroom. Each lesson starts with an introduction, followed by a video tutorial, and concludes with a recap and words of motivation.
Customer service is available via phone, email, and live chat. If you contact them via email, they try to respond within a few hours (24 hours max is their promise). With Fluenz, you’ll learn grammar, writing, speaking, listening, and reading for the desired language.
What sets Fluenz apart is its in-person immersion programs, which include one-on-one sessions, daily assignments, real-time monitoring of progress, and cultural activities.
|All packages are inclusive of all media platforms
|Only 7 languages available
|Lessons will sync with the online site and mobile, so you never lose your place
|Responsive customer service
|Detailed lessons and a variety of exercises
|Mix of language immersion and self-study
- Level 1: $187
- Level 2: $187
- Levels 1+2: $258
- Levels 1+2+3: $308
- Levels 3+4+5: $320
- Levels 1+2+3+4+5: $378
- Spanish Immersion Program: $6,535-$6,920
Language Learning Comparison Table
|Money Back Guarantee
|DVD, CD, MP3, desktop, mobile app, web, ipad
|Mobile app, web, download, CD, MP3
|Download, CD, MP3
|Mobile app, web
|Mobile app, web
|Mobile app, web
|Mobile app, web
|Number of Languages
Read on for our reviews of these popular language-learning apps.
Babbel is among the leading mobile apps for language learners. Each Babbel lesson takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete and is made up of four components: new vocabulary words, dialogue, grammar instruction, and reviewing and drilling of information. While Babbel includes vocabulary drills, reading exercises, and live conversations similar to other language-learning apps, it really excels when it comes to adjusting the difficulty of teaching based on previous answers. This ensures you are getting the most out of each lesson plan. While some apps—like Duolingo—cater to beginners only, Babbel also has lessons at intermediate and advanced levels.
Each Babbel lesson starts with learning words and phrases and then completing activities to practice using what you’ve learned. Babbel also utilizes speech-recognition technology to have learners listen to and pronounce words. Babbel offers podcasts, 2-Minute Stories, and Cultures Bites for some languages to add more interest to your learning.
|Downloading the app is free
|You are allowed access to one section free, but further access requires a subscription
|Uncomplicated and engaging interface
|Repetition can get tedious
|Content for beginners to advanced learners
|Content quality varies between languages
|Babbel Live for 60-minute live classes with experienced language teachers (Spanish, French, and German only)
|Lack of immersive learning
|Audio by native speakers
|Content is mainly in the learner’s native language
|Conversational language is prioritized
- 1-Month Subscription: $14.959 per month (one language)
- 3-Month Subscription: $12.65 per month or $37.95 as one payment (one language)
- 6-Month Subscription: $11.15 per month or $66.90 as one payment (one language)
- 12-Month Subscription: $7.45 per month or $89.40 as one payment (one language)
- Lifetime Subscription: $349 (access to all languages)
Mango is best known as the free learning software available at thousands of public libraries, schools, and other organizations. Mango also offers pricing plans for individuals learning at home. Depending on the plan selection, you can receive support from single-language access and basic support to unlimited language access and dedicated account management.
|Access to languages
|Endangered and Indigenous language courses
|Bonus language courses
|Assessment and placement test
|5 Family Profiles
|Marketing and promotional tools
|Classroom management tools
Mango provides interactive units broken up into chapters and subdivided into lessons. Each lesson covers listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Interactive lessons use slide decks with 20 or more slides to click through. Lessons start with establishing target words and phrases, and as slides continue, more complexity is added to further concept understanding—from words to phrases and sentences, and then conversations.
Mango uses quizzes to test comprehension and includes English translation and audio examples from native speakers to support learning. It also has a small collection of authentic movies for immersive study.
|Lack of images and videos
|Repetition can feel tedious
|Reviews content regularly to ensure you don’t forget
|Lack of immersive learning
|Quality audio, read by native speakers
|Not suited for advanced learners
|Placement test and 3 difficulty levels
|Content quality varies between languages
- Single Language: $7.99 per month or $79.99 annually
- All Languages: $17.99 per month or $179.99 annually
- Enterprise: must contact sales
- The Mango Languages software is available free at partner public libraries
At one time, Rosetta Stone was the gold standard of computer-based learning; however, as the market for language learning software continued to expand, so did the options for quality software. Unfortunately for Rosetta Stone, the market is now packed with competitors that offer similar tools at comparable prices.
At its inception, Rosetta Stone began as a computer-assisted language learning software. Customers could order a box set of discs that would teach vocabulary, language structure, and key conversational phrases, all at their pace and in the comfort of their homes. As we moved from the 90s, technology advanced, and Rosetta Stone kept up, introducing CDs, MP3s, online subscriptions, and a mobile app. In 2019, Rosetta Stone discontinued selling and supporting CD-ROM and Digital Download products, instead focusing on its subscription-based website and mobile app.
Rosetta Stone’s technology uses more traditional teaching techniques than others on the market. The software uses images, text, and audio to teach grammar and words using repetition without translation—what Rosetta Stone calls “Dynamic Immersion.”
In a typical lesson, the software might display four photos, with a speaker making a statement that describes one of the photographs, and the corresponding text is written on the screen. The learner would then choose the photograph that the speaker is describing. Other variations ask the learner to write a description of a presented photo. Rosetta Stone also features grammar and oral lessons where the software will evaluate word pronunciation. A grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary lesson takes about 30 minutes.
|Pricing has dramatically improved
|Cookie-cutter syllabus design
|Game-style exercises that are child-friendly
|Only provides a beginner’s level comprehension
|Uses some immersion learning
|Repetitive learning method can feel tedious
|Quality audio stories read by native speakers
|Not enough immersion learning
|TruAccent technology gives real-time pronunciation feedback
|Not enough real-use language for communication outside of the “classroom”
|Touch and hold translation, available in select languages on the mobile app
|No placement test for difficult level
|Downloadable content for offline learning
|Can choose between 3 difficulty levels
- 3-Month Subscription: $11.99 per month or $35.97 as one payment (one language)
- 12-Month Subscription: $7.99 per month or $95.88 as one payment (one language)
- Lifetime Subscription: $179 one-time fee (unlimited languages)
Whether your goal is to become more cultured, learn for career growth, talk to your grandmother, or have fun, knowing how you learn best and how fluent you wish to become in the language is essential. If you’re looking for the basics and want to learn a new language for fun, then Duolingo may be a great fit. If you’re serious about learning a new language, then Fluenz will likely suit you better.
Use Your Language With Locals – Immerse Yourself In An Adventure Vacation!
Once you’ve got a basic vocabulary going, a great way to extend your skills and eventually become fluent is to immerse yourself in a culture that speaks the language you’re learning. Wondering where to go? Check out our cruise line reviews for various itineraries, or if you’re on the adventurous side our adventure vacation reviews. Once you have an idea of where you want to go, use our travel website comparison to get the best deal on flights, and consider a vacation rental option using these providers we review.
Which language would you like to learn? Let us know in the comments!Tagged With: Comparison