Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm
With it’s eye-catching design and memorisation technology, Drops aims to get you learning new vocabulary in no time, but does it live up to its hype?
DROPS LANGUAGE APP
Drops is a fun, engaging language app suitable for all ages. It's colourful design makes learning vocabulary enjoyable and you'll understand basic phrases in no time.
On the downside, the lessons are unvaried and limited, focusing on vocabulary over grammar or skills practice. Great resource for holidays and basic interactions, but not for much else.
This expert review will take you through everything you need to know about Drops so you can decide whether it deserves a spot next to your language app favourites. We’ve included a breakdown of its key features, snapshots of what to expect from the app, its pros and cons, and a comparison of its main competitors.
What is Drops?
Founded in 2015, Drops is a language learning app that’s made a splash in recent years. Acquired by Kahoot! – an educational platform loved by teachers and students worldwide – Drops features beautiful designs and fun games to learn faster.
Drops is based on visual learning and repetition. It focuses on vocabulary, not grammar.
It’s free to use with premium subscription options, and no sign up required. It’s currently available in 45+ languages, including minority languages like Maori and Yoruba, and offers different writing systems, such as Korean Hangul and Sanskrit.
The app is popular among language learners and app developers alike, receiving Google’s Best App 2018 and a place in EdTech Digest Awards 2019.
What can you do on Drops?
Drops offers 3 learning levels from beginner, intermediate, and advanced in all 45+ languages. With the free and premium versions, you can change levels at any time and switch between languages. For this review we’ve looked at intermediate Portuguese and beginner Japanese.
As the app centres on vocabulary, there isn’t a great variety in the types of lessons on offer. The visual learning style and repetition-based activities, though, make vocabulary memorisation easy and fun.
If you decide to create an account, you can track your daily progress and collect achievements in your target language.
A key feature of Drops is that you practice with a 5-minute time limit. Why? To stay motivated and retain the vocabulary you’ve learnt.
You’re able to go at your own pace with more new vocabulary introduced if you’re flying through the lesson, and the option to skip words that you’re already familiar with..
The time limit counts down throughout the lesson, helping you to stay fully focused while you learn. If there are any interruptions IRL that require your attention, you can pause the lesson and resume when you’re ready.
With the free version, there is a 10-minute daily maximum – the equivalent to two lessons. This applies to multiple languages, so if you want to practice more than one language at a time, you’re limited.
Premium users, however, have no practice limit and can switch between languages, learning as much as they like.
Learn Vocabulary with Visual Learning
Without a doubt, the stand-out feature of Drops is its design. You’re introduced to new words with easy-to-remember images and native pronunciation to make learning more enjoyable.
There are several activities in a single lesson, such as multiple-choice, spelling exercises, and match-ups. The word is repeated by the native speaker every time you complete a task. We think it’s a great way to ensure new vocabulary sinks in.
Even though Drops doesn’t teach grammar, it teaches whole phrases like “I make a phone call” which is arguably better than learning a language in separated words and rules.
After the lesson, the new words are added to your vocabulary collection for you to revisit anytime you need a refresh.
Learn New Writing Scripts
A useful aspect of Drops is that it gives you the option to learn new writing systems. Whether you’re learning Japanese or Hindi, the official writing script will appear along with the translation, the Roman transcription, and audible pronunciation of the phrase.
As with all of its content, it doesn’t explain the writing system or explain the significance of each symbol, so beginners can only pick up a limited amount with this feature (although this problem is addressed with Scripts). For more experienced learners, though, this is the perfect tool to refresh your knowledge and advance your learning.
What other features does Drops have?
Focus on Specific Topics
With 209 topics, Drops is confident that it can help you navigate the situations you need. The topics range from food & restaurants, nature & animals, science & wisdom and include beginner, intermediate and advanced vocabulary.
Drops for Work and Schools
Owned by Kahoot!, it’s no surprise that Drops has introduced subscription options specifically for schools and work.
In addition to its Work Talk categories. Drops offers corporate options for companies wanting their employees to improve their foreign language skills. There are more affordable bulk-buying options for the premium version of the app.
As it focuses on vocabulary memorisation, though, we’re not sure how effective it is for building language competency suitable for international business.
If you’re a certified language teacher, you also qualify for a discount on Drops Educational. Promoted as an engaging way to get your students learning, and potentially more effective at teaching vocabulary than your average textbook.
Droplets & Scripts by Drops
Droplets & Scripts are not included in the app itself, but are members of the Drops Language family that are worth mentioning.
Scripts is a supplementary app that can be used in conjunction with Drops, exploring the writing systems feature in more detail. It aims to teach different scripts through the use of games and activities.
It currently has 9 script options: Korean Hangul, Russian Cyrillic, Japanese Kana, American ASL, Hindi Devanagari, Chinese Hanzi, the Hebrew alphabet, Sanskrit (Yoga), and the English alphabet.
Droplets is based on the same premise as Drops, but aimed at children aged 8 – 17. It still focuses on language learning through repetition and memorisation, but includes more games and visual resources to engage younger learners.
Both apps are downloaded separately but are included in Drops’ premium plan.
Who is Drops best for?
With options for kids and corporations and an extensive library of languages, Drops is suitable for anyone wanting to quickly learn vocabulary in their target language. The app is simple and intuitive to use, meaning even the most technologically-challenged will find it easy to get to grips with.
Due to its lack of grammar and speaking practice, we suggest using it alongside other language resources. If you’re looking for an app to teach you a language in-depth, Drops is not for you.
How much does Drops cost?
Drops is free to use and there’s no need to sign up unless you want to collect achievements and track your progress. This gives you 10 minutes of practice a day with access to all available languages and vocabulary libraries.
If you want to upgrade to premium there’s a 7-day free trial with the yearly subscription option. After the trial period it’s $69.99/ year. You can also subscribe for $9.99/month or, if you’re really committed, there’s a $150 lifetime subscription.
With premium you have access to unlimited language practice, listening tests, offline access, and no ads.
What are the pros and cons of Drops?
- No sign up required
- Access to 45+ languages
- Beautiful design and images
- Great for memorizing useful words and phrases
- Includes different writing systems
- 10-minute daily limit (without premium)
- Vocabulary only, no grammar
- Not much variety in the lessons
Are there any alternatives to Drops?
Drops vs Memrise
Memrise is a similar product to Drops, using a flashcard system and rote-memorisation tools. Unlike Drops, Memrise only offers 23 languages but has slightly cheaper pricing. What’s more, it includes lessons created by its user base which offer more variety than Drops’ curriculum.
Check out our in-depth review of Memrise.
Drops vs Duolingo
Both Drops and Duolingo have an easy-to-use interface and colourful design. Drops teaches more phrases that are useful in day-to-day life, but there’s no real breakdown of the language structures used. Even though Duolingo makes you repeat phrases like “Owen is eating parsnips in the rain”, at least it shows you the grammar behind it.
Check out our in-depth review of Duolingo.
Our final thoughts on Drops
Drops is a great resource for learning vocabulary in a quick and memorable way. The variety of topics help you navigate through many possible scenarios in your target language, whether you’re going to the airport or engaging in a political debate.
The Scripts supplementary app is a nice add-on that helps you learn tricky writing systems faster. The free access to its plethora of languages is a definite plus, but the 10-minute limit for non-premium users makes it a bad option for a hardcore study session. Drops is best used as a language supplement, not an app to get you speaking fluently.
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.