Free and affordable language apps

Free and affordable lang apps
Free and affordable language apps

From binge-watching our favourite Netflix series to experimenting with home activity kits, we’ve got our own ways of dealing with this quarantine lifestyle. But with another 2 plus weeks to go, some of us may be running out of ideas on how to keep ourselves entertained.

If you’re looking to make the best out of all this spare time, here are 7 free and affordable language apps to kickstart your journey to be a polyglot.

Check out more stay home activities here: 

1. Language Learning with Netflix – learn while watching foreign films

Language learning with Netflix
Language Learning with Netflix comes with 2 sets of subtitles with an in-built dictionary
Image credit: Language Learning with Netflix

Most of us have probably done this at some point in time – telling ourselves “just one more episode” and end up ignoring grand plans to be productive. But with Language Learning with Netflix, you get to experience the best of both worlds – learning while watching your favourite shows. 

This Chrome extension allows you to view subtitles in your native and target language at the same time, and words will be highlighted while spoken. Don’t worry if you can’t catch up with the actors, you’ll be able to slow down dialogues and go through the vocabulary used at your own pace. 

It features an in-built dictionary, so just hover your mouse over the word to check its definition and pronunciation. It’s a fun way to pick up conversational phrases on the side. For more serious learning, pair it with another app in this list.

Languages available: Depends on the region and the show you are watching
Subscription fee: free

Download here.

2. Busuu – customised study plans and official certification

It’s been proven that 22 hours of Busuu premium is equivalent to 1 school semester
Image Credit: Busuu

We’ve all got our reasons for studying a new language – be it for business, culture, travel, or to simply flex on your friends. Whatever your purpose, Busuu will tailor a personalised lesson plan to help you achieve your goal within your desired time frame. Plus, if you’ve acquired prior knowledge, you won’t have to start from the basics with its placement test.

You’ll be able to record yourself speaking during conversation exercises and send them to a native speaker to get personalised corrections. With over 100 million users on the platform, it won’t be too hard to find a preferred tutor and you can even add them as “friends” on the app’s social tab. 

You’ll even get official certification from reputable language companies so it’d be a valuable addition to your resume.

Languages available: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Italian, Arabic
Pricing: $9.99/month (premium) | $10.99/month (premium plus)

Download here: iOS | Android

3. LingoDeer – best app to pick up Asian languages

Fans of Korean and Japanese series would be able to relate to the agonising feeling of having to wait for subtitles every time a new episode drops. Now, you’ll be able to watch raw episodes once they’ve been released by mastering Asian languages with LingoDeer

Check out the Korean Alphabet Charts to review all alphabets in one glance

While many apps may gloss through the technical parts, LingoDeer provides a comprehensive grammar and alphabet guide, important components for understanding languages like Korean and Japanese. Don’t worry about content overload – the app will introduce advanced grammatical knowledge as you progress.

LingoDeer cultural tips
Image credit: LingoDeer

LingoDeer creates stories in your target language to impart cultural tips and colloquial expressions that locals use frequently. Not only will you sound like a local but also be familiar with local practices.

Languages available: English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Vietnamese
Pricing: US$11.99/month (SG$16.96)

Download here: iOS | Android

4. Memrise – uses memory techniques to help you remember words

It’s hard for some of us to even remember what we ate for lunch yesterday, let alone a string of foreign words. Well aware of this, Memrise utilises mnemonic devices so that you can commit words to your long term memory without much effort. 

Put simply, it links foreign words with images or similar sounding words in your native language for that easy recall. 

Image Credit: PCMag

Another scientifically proven method used is spaced repetition, showing users harder and foreign words more frequently as compared to those that are easier and less difficult. With these techniques, you’ll be able to increase your rate of learning and become a pro in a matter of weeks.

Languages available: Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Korean, Turkish, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Swedish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Danish, Icelandic, Mongolian, Slovenian
Pricing: US$8.99/month (SG$12.72)

Download here: iOS | Android

5. HelloTalk – chat with native speakers

Image Credit: HelloTalk

Staying at home means that we have to stay apart from our friends, so it’s only normal that we’ll feel isolated during this quarantine life. Now, you can seek company from across the globe while learning a new language with HelloTalk

It’s similar to messaging apps, but with the added function to “language exchange”. Simply indicate the language you’re interested in and you’ll be paired up with a native speaker that is similarly trying to pick up your language.

Through texting, you and your study partner can learn in a more natural setting by highlighting mistakes made through conversation and help each other correct them. Apart from the usual texting and voice recording, you can even draw to express yourself if words fail you. Its translation and transliteration features can also aid you along the way.

Languages available: over 150 languages
Pricing: Free

Download here: iOS | Android

6. Rosetta Stone – uses images & everyday objects for immersive learning

Rosetta Stone
Match the pictures to the correct audio
Image Credit: Rosetta Stone

The OG language platform Rosetta Stone has been around ever since the era of language lessons on CDs, so their tried-and-tested methods are likely to deliver. It employs immersive methods like conveying ideas through visual and audio aids in your target language instead of text translation alone, helping you to memorise and progress faster. 

They’re offering unlimited live group coaching sessions for free till 30 June 2020 to give back during these tough times. Otherwise, you can try out TruAccent, their very own patented speech recognition engine to improve your pronunciation – perfect for those who are too shy to practice in front of others. 

Languages available: 24 languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latin
Pricing: from $11.99/month

Download here: iOS | Android

7. Babbel – beginner-friendly to start speaking right away

No matter the purpose, all of us are eager to show off our language skills ASAP. As a beginner, you can expect to have basic conversation mastered in a jiffy as Babbel introduces conversation starters through dialogue quizzes and educational podcasts.


Click on the speaker button to listen to voiceovers by native speakers
Image Credit: Babbel

Not only that, but they also use recordings by native speakers to help you familiarise yourself with the local accent instead of sounding like a complete outsider. To solidify what you’ve learnt, the app also uses spaced repetition as a technique to make sure you don’t forget. 

Languages: Dutch, Danish, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Spanish and Turkish.
Pricing: $12.95/month

Download here: iOS | Android

Learn a language fast

With these 7 free and affordable language apps, you’ll get to explore different languages and cultures around the world even while being stuck at home. With courses tailored to help you learn efficiently, you might even be able to start converse like a pro by the time the CB lifts. Now you won’t ever have to worry about your message being lost in translation. 

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