The initial lockdown last March left individuals and families with more time on their hands than they were used to. It is no surprise that interests in new hobbies such as baking, puzzling, and crafting rose exponentially during this time period. But another hobby that rose in prominence was the studying of foreign languages. The reasoning behind this seems to be as varied as the reasons behind making sourdough bread or finally learning to play the drums. But what is clear is that the pandemic has shed some light on American’s desire to add another language to their repertoire.
If your child is among this group, or if they need a little extra practice with the language they are learning in school, here are four great apps that target certain aspects of learning a foreign language:
Memorizing new words is a part of learning any foreign language. For learners who do not want to go through the creation of hundreds of paper flashcards, Vocabulary Miner allows you to create custom vocabulary flashcards for studying.
The app saves the flashcard decks so the user can make different decks for multiple different categories, such as Greetings, Food, Directions, Family, etc. The user can even add sentences to the flashcards to get extra practice with grammatical structures as well.
Vocabulary Miner also keeps track of which cards the user missed so that they know to go back and practice them again. Graphs are also available showing the user’s progress over time.
Vocabulary Miner is free to download but extra in-app purchases such as premade decks in target languages are available.
According to a Business Insider article about the rise of the app Duolingo during the pandemic, the second most popular language being learned right now is Spanish (for English speakers). If your child is interested in studying Spanish, Lingro to Go is an app specifically designed for teaching the Spanish language.
The app combines quizzes, videos, visuals, and games to help the user practice Spanish and uses fun and colorful illustrations. The user chooses what they want to practice from a list of categories such as My Life, My Community, The Digital World, etc. Practicing these categories earns the user experience points towards their language learning goal.
One of the best parts of Lingro to Go is that it addresses common frustrations that language learners face. The app offers helpful solutions like prioritizing important words first instead of worrying about perfecting every word on a long vocabulary list.
One of the most important parts of learning a foreign language is being able to communicate with others in the target language. While travel might seem like a distant dream and groups or clubs might not be able to gather to practice, listening and speaking comprehension is crucial to getting better at learning a foreign language.
If you want to use an app that allows you to practice your pronunciation, Babbel is a great app to use. The user is able to speak into their phone’s microphone and Babbel will gauge how well the word is pronounced. Babbel also uses audio from native speakers so the user can hear words and phrases pronounced correctly, leading to better pronunciation.
Because learning a foreign language can be difficult, Babbel also allows the user to set their own language learning goals. Setting a realistic target for practicing daily can lead to more retention and less of a chance of “burn out.”
According to a Vox article about language learning during the pandemic, March of 2020 saw the number of Duolingo users literally double. Duolingo is a great entry point for people who want to explore a language or possibly several before they make a commitment. Duolingo offers 19 different languages, including Swedish, Korean, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew, etc. This means there is a great variety to choose from if your child is not sure what language they would like to commit to learning. If they are interested in learning a fictional language, Duolingo also has them covered, including the Star Trek language Klingon and High Valyrian.
Variety is not the only reason Duolingo is a popular choice for learning; it is almost completely free. Once the user signs up for Duolingo, they can sign up to learn multiple languages at the same time with no extra fees. At the time of this writing, I am currently signed up for Swedish, Japanese, and French, all of which I can study without cost. A premium service is available but this writer has never felt the need to access it.
Duolingo’s blog can also be a helpful supplementary resource for keeping up to date with improvements to the website and ideas about how to best practice your target language. Competitions within your target language can also spur you on to keep trying even when you have hit a language plateau.
What apps or programs have worked for your child’s language learning goals? Share them with us in the comments below!