What Kind of App for Learning a Language?

Our lives are constantly bombarded with news, notifications, and new tasks all-day-long. We feel busy, overloaded and always somehow in a rush. One reason is our smartphone always being close to us. However, if you make it work for you, then, that overloaded feeling will at least be accompanied by a feeling of success, of improvement.

If you’re learning a language on your own or want to improve faster, then using an app is a great way to complement your study.

But first, let me put it out there: You will not learn a language just by using an app. This should be just a part of your study to complement the rest (done in class or on your own).

But what kind of app? Here are a few types that may be useful for you, based on your objectives. I may develop each later posts

1. The “I can do anything for you”

If you wish to learn a language from the basics and develop overall skills, apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, Mondly and such may be a good choice.

Those apps say they can teach you to speak many languages without spending much time on it. Do not use them if you believe that message. Learning a language is much more than just learning a few sentences. Those apps are good overall support in your learning journey, but they will never be enough to teach you to speak a language on their own.

However, if you already have a steady study plan, those will complement really well your study by making you study small aspects, vocabulary that you may have missed during the rest of your study. The willingness to keep a streak may also contribute to pushing you to keep on doing it for a long time!

2. The “I’ll teach you sentences only”

There are a lot of apps which have for sole purpose to teach you sentences for specific situations. If you wish on actually speaking a language, do not use those. These are a great way to learn to say a few things for an upcoming trip but will never be good enough to either complement real study nor teach you the real basics of a language.

Those apps may, however, be a good first look at a language that interests you, allowing you to read and listen to sentences and get a feel of how you like it. If you use it this way, great. But stop using those quickly as you may end up sticking to those alone if use them for too long.

3. The Spaced-Repetition System (SRS)

There are apps, such as Anki for instance, which have packs of flashcard that will keep on coming back at “the right time” for you to remember them. Depending on your study preferences, those apps may be a good supplement to your program as they will allow you to remember words/sentences/grammar patterns while you keep on studying new things outside of it.

However, be careful to put some distance with those after reaching an intermediate stage in your learning. When you know the basics, you should dive into real content and learn with context as nuances will start to make sense and be important.

I used Anki for many years to improve my Japanese, Korean and Chinese, until I pretty much gave up and switched to more native content. Be decision ever.

4. The “For-Native”

Talking about For-Native apps, those will be your best ally in becoming great at understanding a language. Those apps which were not made for learning, but for use for native users, will allow you to see real content, real uses of things you have learned.

They should be used from an intermediate level onward and you should try many of them until you find the right one for you.

For me, I found the following one for Korean “좋은 글” and for Japanese “JapaneseNews” (for the NHK news podcasts). For Chinese, I’m still looking, so don’t hesitate to let me know if you have good ones!

5. The “Language-Exchange”

Those will be your best ally overall in communication. They should be used as early as possible and as often as possible as well. Make the best of them and converse with natives, learn from them by talking about things you like, that interest you or even harder topics if you already reached a high enough level.

Creating a connection with someone will also motivate you further in improving your skills and as a result, most certainly accelerate your study!

There are countless apps that you can use, so try them, find the ones that work for you and make the best of them! Don’t hesitate to combine them and create the best mix for you!

Originally published at yuhakko.wordpress.com on November 13, 2018.

Written by

Polyglot speaking 6 languages. Writer. Helping the world to learn languages and become more understanding of others. Say hi → https://linktr.ee/MathiasBarra

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