Learn to get by in any language

There are a multitude of reasons to learn to get by in one or many languages. You’re off to Japan on holiday, you have a new Spanish au pair living with you AND you’re preparing for a big event with your partner’s Norwegian family. Even if you’re not looking for fluency, it’s just good manners to make the effort to learn some basic phrases. Whatever the motivation, only dedicated practice – and the right app – will get you to your goal.

Learn at your own pace

Babbel’s lessons will start you off with quick sessions that you can schedule for any convenient time of day. Tell the app you want to practise “on the go” for example, and set a time to be reminded several times a week. Switch between languages at any time – the app will remember how far you got in each language. Turn on the microphone for pronunciation feedback and subscribe to get full access to all the courses.

    Babbel – Learn Languages

    Speak Spanish, French & more


Get holiday ready

Duolingo’s lessons are free (or you can subscribe to use the ad-free version and have access to offline learning). Choose your language and the app will help you stay motivated with some gamification – a league table of language learners. The more you practise, the more points and rewards you earn. Sessions cover situational categories of conversation, such as travel or getting by in restaurants. If a lesson is too basic for you, take a test to skip forward to the next level.

    Duolingo - Language Lessons

    Learn Spanish, French, German


Speak like a local

Memrise asks you to tell it why you’re learning your chosen language. So, if it’s a wedding speech you are working up to, choose “love” as your motivation and your lessons will include vocabulary and phrases more relevant to social situations than getting around a city, for example. The Immerse tab gives you video lessons from native speakers, on specific words or phrases or idioms, to introduce you to some local nuance. And, if you’re struggling to remember a word, point the camera at an object in front of you for a quick translation.

    Memrise: Learn Languages Fast

    Spanish, French, German, Dutch


Improve your pronunciation

Rosetta Stone also starts you off on a plan that caters for your specific need. You can tell it you’re learning for work or travel for example or select a plan to learn the basics. If you already have some language skills, choose a level to suit your ability. You’ll then get a six week programme covering listening and reading exercises, grammar lessons and vocab. The app also uses speech recognition technology to correct your pronunciation.

    Rosetta Stone: Learn Languages

    Speak Spanish, French, German


Become officially fluent

Busuu has all the expected language learning tools, but also connects you to native speakers of your chosen language, who can help correct your practice exercises and asks you to do the same for those learning your own mother tongue. Once you have completed a course, Busuu offers a test and awards you an official language certification – the McGraw-Hill Education certificate.

    Busuu: Fast Language Learning

    Learn Spanish, French, German