Language apps are changing how we learn

lang appsBy Eunice Kim

Learning a new language yields great advantages such as a deeper comprehension of diverse cultures as well as cognitive benefits. But it is not necessarily a simple road. It requires dedication, hard work, and passion.

However, with the proliferation of apps on handheld devices, language apps, for instance, have been a gateway to more guided learning. Notable apps like Duolingo and Memrise have become popular on smartphones, offering an interactive and convenient way for anybody to be more fluent in a language. The diverse aura of apps makes learning a language all the more appealing, unlike traditional textbooks and old gadgets.

According to Fernando Rosell- Aguilar, a Lecturer in Spanish at the Open University, high quality image, voice recognition, and responsive touch screens are just some of the ways that make this type of language learning effective. Because of such, the process of language learning through apps has become easier. With the growing ownership of smartphones and tablets, it is literally at our fingertips.

The virtual platform of language apps makes it easier to avoid judgement and enables people to interact at a convenient time. Now, even the most occupied people can offer up just minutes a day to freely practice some fun language puzzles here and there.

For instance, Duolingo, a popular language learning platform with 200 million members, offers not only written lessons that help with speaking the language as well as writing it, but also provides a game element that makes it fun. The app includes, but isn’t limited to, oral conversations, writing, and pronunciation. Duolingo even begins its lessons by linking the sound of the phrases with visuals.

“Language apps like Duolingo are a great way to introduce and have a basic overview of a language at the tip of your fingers. It’s tough to stay committed if you were in a classroom and have that full experience,” junior Lena Trinh said.

A concern is that such social apps lack the sentient quality that makes tutors so appealing. However, native speakers can also provide feedback to users on Duolingo.

Another popular app, Memrise, carries 3000 native speaker videos which allows the audience to engage with people fluent in the language that they want to learn.

Babbel, another popular app, also teaches skills to prepare users for real-life conversations and improve their skills with interactive dialogues.

In a study based on a random representative sample of 325 Babbel users by Roumen Vesselinov and John Grego who both carry PhDs, 92% of the participants improved their language proficiency after utilizing the app, with the majority also stating that the app was helpful.

There is no set solution to what specific app will lead to success. In the end, it all comes down to what works best for the user. Nonetheless, the versatility of apps as well as the convenient nature help cater to people’s needs.

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