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Learning a Foreign Language: 5 Apps

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Learning foreign languages is a way of life. It is an ongoing process that can be quite enjoyable. Whether you’re looking to learn a language from zero or merely practice what you already know, here are some apps to help. #notanad 


1. Duolingo

I tried this one a few years ago when I was trying to learn German. I did learn a few words (that I have since forgotten), but I think it is fundamental that you interact with real people in order to really learn a language. This is good for vocabulary or as an introduction of sorts. The app sections language learning into lessons, and each lesson covers words that are relevant to it. For example, some lessons are “family”, “Politics”, “Religion” and “Love”. This really is a good vocabulary builder. It also sends you daily reminders for you to practice and little tests for you to track your progress, but what you can do is very limited.


2. Tandem

I downloaded this a few days ago, and I really like the concept. It connects you with people all around the world who are looking to learn languages and get to know other cultures. The idea is to find a Tandem partner, a person who is looking to learn the language(s) you are native in and they, in turn, are natives in the one(s) you are learning. You can chat, call, or even video call your Tandem partner. As with most social networking apps, your experience may differ greatly from mine, as it is entirely dependent on the people you interact with. You will find people who just want to talk, but there will also be people willing to be your teacher. 


3. Google Translate

I cannot begin to tell you how useful this has been, and continues to be, for me. Yes, I’m aware it’s not infallible and it often makes mistakes, but if you have enough knowledge of the foreign language and manage to spot them, there’s no problem. I am well acquainted with this because whenever I have to write a paper or anything for class, I open a tab with it going from English to Spanish or vice versa. It was also key during my year taking French as a foreign language, and it still helps when someone I’m talking to (on Tandem for instance) forgets my French is mediocre at best. All in all, it’s a great tool to have at hand.


4. Dictionary.com

Again, this one has been crucial to my academic success (ha). This thesaurus has aided me throughout my whole bachelor’s. It has two functions: a dictionary for definitions and thesaurus for synonyms, which I think really helps expand your vocabulary.


5. French by Nemo

Now, this one was especially helpful to me, as I am learning French. What I like about this app is that it’s about listening to the language. There are a series of phrases to choose from and you can even choose the speed at which to listen to them. If uou’re not learning French, then there are other apps with a similar idea, including Google Translate. 




There are more apps out there that may even better, but I simply haven’t experienced them first hand. There are apps for ASL as well! These are just 5 apps that I have personally found useful. The most important part of learning a language is to be exposed to that language and immerse yourself in the culture. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t just learn a language and you’re done with it. Languages are constantly changing and evolving, so there is always something new to learn. I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it is definitely worth it. Happy learning! 

BA in English Literature at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Avid reader of fiction: fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, and certain classics.  Can be found browsing Pinterest, spontaneously singing Disney songs, or finding new ways to procrastinate. Speaks fluent sass and movie quotes.