If you want to learn a new language and need a place to start, your phone or tablet are as far as you need to search. There are lots of ways we can use our devices to learn and practice:
Language learning apps
The most obvious way to use one of your devices to learn a new language is with educational apps. There are quite a few apps you can download that give you daily lessons to teach you a new language. Two excellent language learning apps you can download are:
Duolingo: Learn French, Spanish, German, Portuguese or Italian. Take interactive lessons in both vocabulary and grammar while learning basic phrases. This app is great because it will remind you to take a lesson if you haven’t used it in a while, although at the moment there isn’t a tablet version available. But, despite that, it’s free!
Rosetta: This is a highly intensive and thorough language learning app that is structured like an official course. Work your way through different lessons, starting with picture-based vocabulary and working your way up to full phrases. The speech recognition feature also allows you to improve your pronunciation. While not cheap, it is one of the most effective language learning apps you’ll find.
Podcasts and audiobooks
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn languages with your devices as well as practice the languages you’re learning. While you can download podcasts and audiobooks that are specifically designed to teach you a language (many of which are free) you can also listen to books and news in other languages to help you to practice your understanding of the language you’re learning.
The best way to learn a language is to test it with real conversation, and listening to radio shows and foreign literature is a great way to harness your new skill. For instance, if you’re looking to learn French one highly recommended podcast is One Thing in a French Day, which consists of short snippets into the life of a French woman. You can learn about all of the subtle nuances of the French language and get some very useful everyday vocabulary. It’s a really charming and relaxing listen.
There are more than a few online programs that you can access that will connect you to another person via Skype so you can learn and practice a new language. The idea is for you to teach this person your language while they teach you their language. You both communicate in the language you’re trying to learn and sooner or later you’ll both be fluent. Some examples are italki, which connects you with different language teachers around the world, and HelloTalk, which connects you to other students who want to learn your language.