We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.
If you are looking for an app that will help you learn a new language, or offer additional practice in one you are already learning, you will want to check out Duolingo.
There are many other language apps out there, such as Rosetta Stone, but most require in-app purchases for the user to get the most out of the app. Duolingo, on the other hand, is completely free. Released in 2012, Duolingo quickly became one of the best free language apps available, and was recognized as the 2013 iPhone App of the Year and one of Google’s Best of the Best in 2013 and 2014.
Most Useful Features:
- Choose from 9 languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, and Swedish with more on the way.
- The system is gamified, making it slightly addicting and fun to learn.
- The option to compete with friends.
- Immediate feedback.
- The focus on reading and listening.
- It’s possible to test out of certain sections
- Choose how much or little you want to learn at a time with different coaching levels ranging from 1xp to 50xp required per day (11xp per lesson).
- Will send push notifications and email reminders.
- Also available on their website with additional grammar information
- Clean and easy to use interface.
- An independent study shows that 34 hours with Duolingo = 1 University Semester (11 weeks)
- Completely free.
- Limited language choice, and lack of Mandarin, Farsi, or Urdu in the upcoming languages.
- Speaking is not emphasized or practiced.
- Lack of natural conversations.
- Not ideal to prepare to converse on a trip.
- Only one language allowed at a time in the app (can do more than one at a time on the website).
- Website version makes it too easy to just see what a word means.
If you’re looking to try a language app on a budget, Duolingo is a great choice. While it probably won’t make you fluent, it will definitely get you started on your way to learning a new language. If you want to stay free, but are looking for a more robust list of languages, Mango Languages is an excellent option that is free with an MWR Library account (definitely worth getting, as most posts have a MWR Library) and is available both online and as an app.
As always, if you give Duolingo a try, feel free to let us know what you think!
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.
Contents contributed by G.J. Corey Harmon, Circulation Librarian