THE 5 BEST LANGUAGE LEARNING APPS FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY
Do you ever get the impression that the look you’re receiving from the waiter could be something to do with your lack of local language skills? The truth is that as English language speakers, we’ve been well and truly spoilt. While those living across much of the world make a real effort to speak English, we often don’t return the favour when we travel abroad.
Of course, you’re not expected to become fluent for your two-week trip to Europe, but putting in some time to learn a few basic words and phrases will be helpful during your trip. Your efforts might even win an appreciative smile from that waiter.
TIPS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING BEFORE YOU GO ABROAD
Whether you’re shopping around for cheap winter sun holidays or already have your next city break booked, there are plenty of free language learning apps out there that can give you a head start.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at what we think are the five best language apps out there, as well as discussing a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right language apps for your travels.
OUR TOP FREE LANGUAGE LEARNING APPS
TripLingo is one app that’s pretty tough to beat for travellers looking to brush up on their language skills. If you sign up for the free, basic version of the app you’ll be able to access most of the features you’re likely to need. That includes a menu translator, a tip calculator and a 10,000-word offline dictionary.
However it’s the phrasebook with 13 supported languages that’s the real star of the show. It has conveniently arranged the most useful language expressions by categories such as ‘Eating and Drinking’ and ‘Just the Basics’, so you can quickly find the words and phrases you’re looking for.
The app also has a very handy voice and text translator function, so you can perform translations in a hurry, as well as integrated traveler tools such as cultural guides, safety information, dining options, currency conversions and etiquette advice.
No conversation about the best language learning apps is complete without mentioning Duolingo. Duolingo has successfully converged gamification and language learning to make prepping for your holiday fun rather than a chore. You don’t need to take our word for it; with more than 100 million users, DuoLingo has become a language learning staple for people all over the world.
Importantly, you can access all of DuoLingo’s best-loved and most useful features for free. That makes it a great choice for holidaymakers who simply want to learn the basics or strengthen their skills. The app offers language lessons that focus on all four elements of language learning - reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Unlike some of the free language learning apps out there, which allow you to select what you feel like learning and when, Duolingo has set lessons you must complete before new lessons are available. That can make it more difficult to target the particular words and phrases you’re most likely to use on city breaks and winter sun holidays.
If you’re happy to pay for some additional functionality, then Babbel, the paid cousin of Duolingo, offers general beginner’s courses but also has separate packages devoted to improving specific areas of language learning. That can be beneficial to holidaymakers with some local language experience who want to brush up on their skills.
One free app that takes a slightly different approach to language learning is HelloTalk. Rather than taking language lessons or courses, the app allows you to converse with native speakers of the language you want to learn via a WhatsApp-like platform you can send text and voice messages through.
If you find a native speaker of your target language who wants to learn your mother tongue, you can both help each other. There’s an in-built correction tool so you can turn your exchanges into tutoring sessions, along with an integrated translator that you can turn when you’re struggling to get your point across.
Before you go on holiday, you can mark conversations or messages that contain the words and phrases you think you’re likely to need for quick access. You can also use the handy text-to-voice tool to keep your pronunciation on track.
The free language learning app HiNative works along similar lines to HelloTalk, in that it allows you to contact native speakers. However, it removes the hassle of trying to find an exchange partner who’s willing to chat with you. Instead, you can ask for translation assistance, get help with pronunciation or seek advice about cultural norms whenever you need it from a community of native speakers.
For example, you could ask ‘how do I say “can I have the omelette please” in Spanish’, or leave a voice message to ask if your pronunciation is correct. In return for the help you receive, you can assist English language learners by answering their questions and contributing to an active community that’s built on the simple principle of give-and-take.
Del Boy might be a national hero, and quite rightly so, but you probably don’t want to be mistaken for him on your winter sun holiday. If you already have a grasp of some of the words or phrases you’ll need while you’re away, the (How to) Pronounce app will help to make sure you’re understood.
Incorrect pronunciation is one of the main stumbling blocks to communication in your target language. Learning the intonation of a phrase as well as the speed at which it’s spoken will reduce the likelihood of you having to repeat your diligently learned Spanish, French or Italian phrases.
Simply type a word or phrase into the app and you’ll hear it spoken by a native speaker. You can also vary the speed to listen to the words and even the syllables spoken more slowly.
CHEAP WINTER SUN HOLIDAYS TO TEST YOUR NEW-FOUND LANGUAGE SKILLS
All you need now is somewhere to try your new language skills out. At Teletext Holidays, we offer a fantastic range of cheap winter sun holidays so you can escape to warmer climes.
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