Ten iOS Apps for Learning Languages

Women holding an iPhone. Use iOS apps for learning foreign languages in your free time.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Child

Finding time to fit language learning into a busy schedule can be hard.  I have a full-time job with a two-hour daily commute so I understand how difficult it is to fit any time for study on top of an already hectic schedule.  Today’s post focuses on ten great iOS apps for learning languages anywhere.

One of my main suggestions for finding time to fit language study into a busy schedule is using your downtime.  Despite our many technical advances, modern life is still full of periods when you are forced to sit and wait.

Doctors appointments, oil changes, waiting to pick up your kids–these are all times when you can fit in some language study.  If you have a smart phone, you have access to several apps which can help you fit language study into a hectic schedule.

General iOS Apps for Learning Languages

byki Mobile language learning app Byki teaches you the most common words in your target language.  Words are shown in their native form and are pronounced for you.  One of the cooler features of the app is the ability to search Twitter for examples of native uses of the vocabulary that you are learning.  Byki also has a refresh function to help you check vocabulary.  $7.99 per language. Also available on Android.
universal translator-a useful iOS app for learning languages Universal Translator integrates with Google Talk to offer translations of words and phrases into your target language.  Along with providing translations, the app can also be used for language learning.  Type in any word or phrase and the app will translate and read the phrase back to you. $2.99
Duolingo Duolingo is one of my personal favorite apps for language learning. Duolingo is a FREE app that offers French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, and English courses. I use the German version to drill myself on grammar. The app encourages you to review older material to keep your level on each skill high. Another feature that I love is the streak feature. Similar to the Don’t Break the Chain philosophy, DuoLingo encourages you to spend time studying each day.
any.do I’m sure that you are confused by my addition of Any.Do as a language learning app. I’m including Any.Do in the list to make the point that successful language learning involves making language learning part of every day. Make a point to add an item to your to-do list to remind yourself to study your language. Load whatever app or agenda or other tool that you use to manage your to-do list and make language study a recurring task. Resist the urge to move it aside when life becomes too hectic.


Japanese Language Learning Apps

Tae Kim's guide to learning Japanese Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese is the most well written guide to Japanese available on the web.  If you are having difficulties with Japanese grammar, you need to check out this guide.  Most Japanese texts start with the standard polite form.  Learning the polite form is important because, as a visitor, you will most likely be using the polite form. However, you need to know the common verb stems to be able to conjugate verbs.  Tae Kim starts out with the common form which makes conjugation so much easier.

I consider it an essential read for any Japanese learner. As a bonus, the app is free. Also available on Android.

Human Japanese Human Japanese describes itself as “your sensei in a box.” The description is pretty accurate. Human Japanese is one of my favorite language apps end of story. The app has several features that make it great for learning Japanese.

Human Japanese encourages you to learn hiragana and katakana. The app includes a pronunciation of every word introduced. The stories are engaging, and you can quiz yourself at the end of every chapter. In between chapters, the developers have included short sections on Japanese culture which make for interesting reading. $9.99 for full version.  There is also a Lite version if you would like to sample before you buy.

KanjiQ I use KanjiQ for learning kanji. I need to write characters before I can learn them. KanjiQ has an animation showing the stroke order for every kanji and you can trace the animation with your finger or a stylus to practice stroke order. As a bonus, in addition to the ON and KUN readings of every character, the app also shows Mandarin and Korean readings. FREE

German Language Learning Apps

CanooNet has a partnership with LEO to provide translations from German into several other languages.  The app also allows access to German wikipedia.  Other features include the internal dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar reference. $9.99 for full version.
Learn German Nouns Der Die Das is a fun app for learning the correct gender of German nouns.  The app makes the learning process fun by including experience points which you can share on Facebook or use to challenge your friends. FREE
iStart German is a great German app for beginners.  The app includes three full hours of audio tutoring from two native German speakers.  Both grammar and vocabulary are covered. $4.99

If you are interested in learning a foreign language, I challenge you to be creative in finding time to fit study into your schedule. iOS apps for learning languages are just the starting point. For the next few weeks I will be sharing tips and tricks on how to find time to study a foreign language even when you are busy.

What are your favorite apps for learning foreign languages?  What challenges do you face in your foreign language study? How have you solved those challenges?  Or are you stuck on a plateau? Let me know in the comments!


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