Free language learning apps
When one first decides to learn a language, they’ll generally look for free language learning apps – you know what they say, you can learn anything you want for free! Problem is, there are SO MANY of them! Some of them are free, some are free only up to a point, some come at that pesky “freemium” level. On top of that, they all do so many different things, so how do you decide which ones to download?
Fortunately, I have used and reviewed so many free language learning apps that I can help you make an educated decision about which ones to try and which ones to avoid for your own personal language learning strategy.
In this post, you’ll find every free language app I’ve ever reviewed, as well as pros, cons, whether or not there’s a paid level, if you need it, and a direct link to my in-depth review of that particular app. Let’s dive in!
Anki is a do-it-yourself digital flashcard app that provides language learners with a blank slate to create their perfect personalized flashcards, as well as a killer SRS algorithm.
Good for: tech-savvy language learners who need an effective way to practice vocab and phrases
Not good for: anything else
Paid level: totally free, with the exception of the iPhone app
HelloTalk is a free app that connects language learners to native speakers and facilitates language exchanges through text and calls.
Good for: free language exchanges, primarily through text
Not good for: structured lessons, dependable conversations and practice
Paid level: totally free
Mango Languages is a beginner level platform that teaches languages by breaking down sentences and phrases, as well as some cultural lessons in certain languages.
Good for: heavy repetition for beginners, breaking sentences and phrases down into individual pieces through reading and listening
Not good for: post-beginners, active use of the language
Paid level: Mango Languages teams up with public institutions (libraries, workplaces, universities, etc) to offer all languages for free. Otherwise, it’s $8/month
Clozemaster is a retro 80’s gamer themed platform to help intermediate language learners learn new vocabulary and practice grammar in context.
Good for: intermediate and above language learners wanting to improve their use of grammar, vocab, and some listening comprehension (depending on the language)
Not good for: beginners, learning grammar rules, active use of the language
Paid level: Fluency Fast Track and reading practice is all free. You can opt for more precise learning and other tools for $8/month
LingQ is a huge platform full of reading and listening practice from all over the web. LingQs are the words and phrases you learn while consuming this media that you can practice within the same platform.
Good for: finding reading and listening content to practice your passive language skills in an engaging way
Not good for: speaking practice, grammar lessons, structured support
Paid level: all the content is available for free, but you can pay for extra support including the flashcard system on a pay scale
Duolingo is the world’s largest language app that excels in gamification and keeping users hooked.
Good for: staying addicted to language learning, feeling successful, extensive grammar practice (depending on the language)
Not good for: active use of the language, true progress in a language, dependable levels of content (depending on the language)
Paid level: Duolingo has stated they will always be free, though you can pay to get rid of ads and get past the pesky hearts system
Drops is a fun app that teaches beginner vocabulary through cute animations.
Good for: learning your first words and phrases with a beautiful app and nice sound effects
Not good for: anything past beginner vocab, active use of the language
Paid level: Drops offers 5 minutes of practice a day with limited vocab themes. Access unlimited practice and all themes for $10/month
CaptionPop uses captions in YouTube videos to teach new words, phrases, and listening comprehension through YouTube videos and a digital flashcard platform
Good for: listening comprehension via YouTube videos, some simple flashcard practice based on the context of those videos
Not good for: actively using the language, flexibility in the flashcards
Paid level: none
LyricsTraining teaches listening comprehension and vocabulary through music.
Good for: discovering foreign language music, listening comprehension, some vocabulary
Not good for: actively using the language, structured lessons
Paid level: LyricsTraining allows you to play music for free 3 times every 30 minutes. Anymore than that is $5/month
Speechling is an app and website that helps improve pronunciation skills by providing feedback from native speakers.
Good for: pronunciation practice
Not good for: any other feature of learning a language
Paid level: Speechling offers 35 free coaching sessions/month, so 1-2 lessons per day. For $20/month, get unlimited practice as well as some other perks
The Pod101 series supports a huge variety of foreign languages by teaching primarily through podcast stories.
Good for: tons and tons of podcast episodes from total beginner to advanced, excellent for getting used to native-level speaking
Not good for: active writing skills
Paid level: all lessons are available for free. The paid levels include things like the lessons recreated in different formats as well as a private tutor
Slowly is an app that brings pen pals to the digital age. Use the app to connect with strangers based on geography, age, interest, and more.
Good for: forming connections based on long-form letters – lots of writing practice
Not good for: speaking practice, learning concepts, getting corrections
Paid level: none
Tandem is a free mobile app that connects you to native speakers of most any language you can think of in order to facilitate accessible language exchanges.
Good for: forming connections with native speakers, free texting/conversational practice, the potential of corrections depending on who you talk to
Not good for: structured practice, grammatical explanations, or the confidence that what you’re saying/typing is correct
Paid level: you can opt to pay for a tutor through the platform, but it’s not necessary at all
Language Transfer is a free collection of podcasts designed to help you learn to speak a handful of languages by focusing on how these languages are similar to English (best for native English speakers) to help narrow the gap to fluency.
Good for: an easy ticket to getting conversational via audio prompts, without worrying about grammar or being “correct”
Not good for: non-audio learners or a “complete” understanding of the languages
Paid level: none! You can opt to support Language Transfer by purchasing an item in the “non-shop”, but otherwise it’s public and 100% free to use
Conjuguemos is a website meant primarily for teachers of Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin, but is a free tool for all language learners looking for grammar drills, textbook supplements, and more.
Good for: drilling and testing tough grammar points in an efficient, engaging way
Not good for: language skills outside of those you’ll learn in a formal classroom
Paid level: monthly memberships are only necessary for teachers of a formal classroom who want to keep track of students’ progress; Conjuguemos is totally free to you
Memrise is a free flashcard website and app that provides beginner vocab help in a variety of different languages. Memrise is different in that they provide curated flashcards with video clips of native speakers saying the terms.
Good for: beginners and language dabblers looking for engaging digital flashcards and fun animations to keep you hooked
Not good for: anything other than beginner vocab
Paid level: Memrise Pro includes learning statistics, some extra SRS capability, etc. You don’t need it necessarily, but it can be a helpful tool
Spanishdict is a free website and app that helps Spanish language learners translate between English and Spanish, learn vocabulary, and test their grammar skills in a fun, lightweight environment.
Good for: the first ~3,000 Spanish words, improving important grammar points, and translations between English and Spanish
Not good for: active use of the language (i.e. speaking and writing),
Paid level: you can opt for premium, but it’s not necessary – everything you need is available for free
When free language learning apps won’t cut it
I am all for accessible language learning, and thanks to the internet there is so much opportunity to do so! However, make sure that you’re not getting stuck by free language learning apps just because you’re being stingy! There’s definitely a difference between using a great free resource for accessibility purposes and finding success in those resources, and keeping yourself limited and stuck just for the sake of saving a buck.
There is value to paid resources (just like the paid options in some of the resources mentioned here) that can be 100% worth it to you if you know exactly what you need in your language learning.
Don’t know what your language learning needs? Check out my free training to learn more!