Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm
In this post I've compiled some of the best language learning software on the market today.
I'm sharing them with you here, so you can discover new interesting ways to learn languages, or expand your language learner toolkit. Variety is the spice of life!
The list is based on my own personal preferences and subjective rating. You might find yourself disagreeing or missing certain software from the list. That's totally fine.Last Updated: December 2020
Best Online Language Courses
Ever since Rosetta Stone came out ages ago, there's been lots of online language courses to follow the model. The learning is usually done by a mixture of images, sounds, videos and testing.
When evaluating what exactly is good enough to be considered among the best language learning software, I used a lot of my personal experience and judgment. This means that you might not agree with some or all the elements of this list. That's fine. Please use the comments section to add your suggestions.
Notice that some of these below are not necessarily marketed towards using online. Some of them are designed to be used while on the go, on your mobile device, or even in the car.
I decided to include these here anyway, because they have online components.
Rosetta Stone – The original giant of language learning. I used to not like Rosetta Stone, because I found the programme uninspiring and ridiculously expensive. Now they've entered the 21st century and offer the material as a subscription model.
The new model actually offers a competitive price and value compared to the rest of the market. 24 Languages to choose from, including 2 versions of English.
Rocket Languages – A premium audio program that features a ton of content to keep you learning. The upfront cost is higher than other programs, but you can access the material forever afterwards, which might be useful for when you need to revise and maintain the language. 17 Languages available.
Babbel – A very affordable online language course provider, that features familiar quiz-style course elements combined with exercises, pronunciation and grammar trainers as well as vocabulary practice tools. They offer 12 courses for English speakers, though you will have to pony up for each language you want to learn.
LanguagePod101 – Premium podcasts available in an easy-to-follow episode system. The basic features are very inexpensive, but you get the most out of a premium monthly membership. You can also download their mobile application and do everything on the go. 34 Languages available.
LinguaLift – A relatively new to the market solution, that reminds me of a combination between interactive textbooks, courses, and personal tutoring.
Lingualift used to be on the pricy side, but they recently dropped their prices down to a very affordable level. 4 Languages available; Russian, Chinese, Japanese and French.
Duolingo – Online language courses available in a variety of language combinations. The courses are free forever, and you can take advantage of a great smartphone app to learn on the go.
They also have courses for smaller languages like Esperanto, Icelandic, and Klingon (coming soon!) They also work with schools to improve traditional language learning. Highly recommended.
Teach Yourself Online – Teach Yourself is a traditional book publisher with many decades of experience. Perhaps best known for their course books in language learning, they've also offered teach yourself courses for many other things. Now they're joining the online language course market with Teach Yourself Online.
Glossika – This service used to offer downloadable MP3-based courses, but now they've upgraded to a new flashy app-interface for their spaced repetition audio method.
Best Flashcard Software
I love flashcards.
Whenever I work with them I always feel like I'm downloading the language from the Matrix.
The incredible feeling of simply uploading language vocabulary, words, and sentences to your brain is amazing.
Memrise – My favourite flashcard service. I'm particularly happy about their mobile application, which recent received a huge upgrade. For me personally, this is clearly among the best language learning software out there.
Create your own decks (called courses by Memrise) or find one of the user-generated ones. Free for most features, but you can access advanced statistics by upgrading to a very affordable premium membership.
Quizlet – One of the best flashcard providers. They're not only marketed to language learners, so their catalogue of flashcards to learn from is very impressive.
At the time of writing this post Quizlet had over 125 million study set to learn everything you can think of, and probably some things you couldn't think of either.
AnkiWeb – The oldschool flashcards application. While Anki is a little cumbersome to use and set up, it does give you unlimited control and flexibility in the type of flashcards you can create.
Learn With Oliver – If you're not interested in creating your own flashcards, or you don't want to waste time finding quality flashcards with other apps, you can sign up for Learn With Oliver and get instant access to quality flashcards in context.
The service also includes a variety of activities and tools to help keep you on track for your learning.
Mosalingua – Another option if you don't want to make your own flashcards. Elaborate flashcard-based apps for your mobile devices. Mosalingua has Spanish, French, Italian, English, German, Brazilian Portuguese as well as business versions for English and Spanish.
Best Online Tutoring
Tutoring is one of the highest value investments you can make in your language learning efforts.
I was skeptical at first, and really nervous about doing tutoring, but once I got started I was amazed at just how quickly my language skills improved.
Now I recommend it as soon as possible to any learner out there.
italki – The best tutoring marketplace and platform out there. Notice that the tutoring itself takes place over Skype, and not through italki's own software.
Baselang – Unlimited Spanish Tutoring for $129 a month. WOW! Need I say more? If you're a Spanish learner, and you're not signed up for this service, what on earth are you waiting for? (AF discount: $10 off the first month.)
Great tutoring service and internal software to keep track of your curriculum and progress.
WeSpeke – A social media community for language learners and travellers. You can interact with speakers from around the world, do language exchanges, and even take tutoring sessions with native speakers.
Best Online Language Immersion
There are many ways to immerse yourself with native materials on the internet. You can look for news channels, podcasts, and many other types of content.
In this section I'm listing websites with software that processes the content, so that learners can get more out of it.
This could be through adding subtitles or transcripts, or introducing games or other language learning tools to the experience.
Yabla – Immerse yourself in native video material, and use their software together with subtitles to make flashcards and improve your learning rapidly.
Currently available for: Chinese, Italian, French, German, Spanish, English
FluentU – Video immersion in native material. They use authentic videos from the internet to help you immerse yourself and reach fluency faster.
After you've watched videos with the subtitles you can do a lot with the text like quizzes and tests to help solidify the memories. Available in 10 Languages.
TuneIn Radio – Listen to over 100,000 radio stations and podcasts in a ton of languages.
Best Language Learning Software
In this section I'm including some of the best tools to have in a language learner's toolbox, that didn't fit any of the other categories.
I'm pretty sure other hobbies would have a lot of links in this category, but I think it demonstrates just how simple it is to learn a language.
For most people some kind of course, combined with a solid flashcard app (or integrated!) with consistent effort will get you fluent. You don't need any fancy tools or systems to do that for you.
However, there are a few tools that I really enjoy that I think you'll like too.
Readlang – Readlang is a great tool for reading in the target language faster. You can either upload your own texts or use the overlay to surf the web with Readlang.
If there's a word or sentence you don't understand, you can simply click on it and Readlang will write the translation on top.
Learning With Texts – An opensource alternative to Readlang. Free to use and offers a lot of customisation options. Although that freedom does come with a bit of a learning curve.
Google Translate – Perhaps obvious to many, but Google Translate offers a lot of help with on-the-fly translations. It has some limitations, but it is unrivalled in speed and ease of use.
Google Translate also features interpreting as well as instant translations through your mobile device's camera. That way you can translate things like signs and menus exactly as you see them.
RhinoSpike – Request sentences or longer texts to be read by a native speaker. You can record your own native language to advance in the queue faster.
Best Language Learning Apps
Today's smartphones offer unrivalled ways to keep learning languages, even if we're stuck on a bus or waiting for a friend to show up for dinner.
Most of the resources I have mentioned in this post are all mobile friendly already, so in theory I could have repeated them all down here.
To avoid the redundancy of doing that I'm just going to list some of the mobile-exclusive apps that I find the best.
HelloTalk – The best language exchange app on your phone. You search for learners learning your native language who are willing to teach you theirs. The basic use is free, but a small cost gives you a range of additional features.
HiNative – An app and community of learners and travellers around the world. If you're not sure how to say something you can ask the community a question and get it answered. The more you contribute, the more likely you are to get help.
TouchPal Keyboard – A great mobile keyboard for language learners and polyglots.
Swype Keyboard – Another great keyboard, which has the feature of combining languages you're actively using.
Wow! There you have it.
The 25+ best language learning software and solutions on the market.
It would make my day if you would share this post on your favourite social media network, or to a friend you think might find it useful.
Did I forget anything? – Leave a comment below.
Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.
Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.