5 Top Language Apps for Learning English

Language apps on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet can be a convenient and entertaining way to learn a new language. The best language apps are far more interactive than studying grammar lessons from a book, and allow users to work at their own pace.

Whether you have hours to use the language learning app each day or only a few minutes in the evenings, you can use an app to fit your schedule and pace. From learning new vocabulary to practicing English conversation, the apps cover essential skills you can study on your own time.

For those interested in learning English, there are a plethora of options available. We dug into online reviews and data on the total number of users to compile this list of some of the most popular language apps for learning English.

Language Apps - a woman on her phone

1. Duolingo

As of 2020, a whopping 40 million active monthly users and 500 million total users around the world rely on Duolingo to learn a language. This popular app allows users to select from 35 different languages, including English. The platform contains a mix of lesson types, from flashcards to listening and speaking exercises to multiple-choice quizzes.

Case studies have found that their approach, paired with the game-like nature of the app, allows users to learn as much as college students who have taken four semesters of a language class. Even more impressive is that these results are achieved in half the time it takes to complete traditional English courses.

Users simply have to sign up and select a language to get started. For those who want an uninterrupted learning experience, upgrading to Duolingo Plus removes ads and enables a “test-out” feature to skip levels you’ve already mastered.

As one of the best apps for learning English, Duolingo offers proven pedagogy, whether you use the free version or the premium one.

2. Busuu

The language-learning app Busuu reported 100 million users as of 2020. Busuu’s approach to teaching a new language mimics the strategies used in classrooms around the globe and follows the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The company partners with McGraw-Hill (a leading publisher in the education industry). Like some other language learning apps, Busuu allows users to connect with native speakers to hone their listening skills as they hear conversations in the language they are learning.

The platform is less game-like than others. It does offer more advanced learning options in English lessons. This is particularly true when it comes to more complex grammar lessons and advanced English vocabulary.

Users can choose between the basic, free app level, or two premium membership levels that offer additional features.

3. Memrise

Memrise was founded in 2010 and has grown to 55 million users as of 2020. The app offers language learners the ability to choose from 20 different languages. What’s more, their website offers courses in additional languages, such as Italian.

The company utilizes a strategy known as “spaced repetition” to focus on areas that users commonly struggle with. Memrise is also one of the most popular apps for learning English because it prioritizes real-life language use over textbook definitions and explanations.

To incorporate this into English lessons, the language course platform showcases videos of native speakers speaking new words to aid in understanding various dialects. This makes Memrise a top choice for those who want to learn English words from a specific region.

Language Apps - a woman on her phone

4. HelloTalk

HelloTalk is a unique language exchange platform with 20 million users as of 2020. Its most popular feature? Human connection. That’s because HelloTalk connects different language speakers who are learning each other’s native tongue. For example, a Spanish-speaking person in Costa Rica who wants to learn English can be matched with an English-speaking person in the United States who wants to learn Spanish.

The goal is to form mutually educational relationships where users learn directly from other language speakers. In addition to standard vocabulary, you might learn more about another culture, such as currencies and holiday traditions around the globe. This is a great app for those with an academic understanding of the English language who want to learn conversational skills.

There are 150 supported languages within the app, and the largest benefit is the ability to learn the conversational language with a native English speaker who can provide advice and correct any mispronunciations.

5. Babbel

Babbel is a subscription-based language-learning app that had one million paying users as of 2016. The language learning platform focuses on real-world conversational language. It aims to teach users how to read and improve English writing skills or one of the other 13 languages offered.

The English lessons include a variety of exercises to strengthen comprehension and confidence. There is a large focus on vocabulary. Babbel encourages repetition to learn. Virtual flashcards and quizzes help users practice. Additionally, Babbel users can try out their English speaking and listening skills by utilizing the app’s audio software.

Language Apps - a woman on her phone