Now that we’re quarantined, everyone is thinking how they finally have time to wake up early, finish that book, or that painting, to work out and not to waste time on their phones. If not now, then when? Well, then the reality kicks in after 3 days and people lose their self-discipline and realize their days are just like any other (unproductive) weekend. DON’T be that person. Hey, there is a worldwide crisis going on and the only thing you’re asked for is to stay at home. No other duties. No fighting in Vietnam, no stitching people up in trenches, nothing. So you might as well work on yourself, because here’s the trick – no one else will do it for you, the days will pass by and you will look back at them, annoyed by the fact you didn’t use them more wisely. You have this one chance (well, assuming that’s your first and last pandemic in your lifetime) to incorporate a good routine for yourself, don’t blow it.
You’re abroad for a reason. You’re curious about other countries, cultures, people and languages. You want to know more, you want to learn more. And what says more about your international spirit than speaking multiple languages? You have lot of time now and little excuses, so might as well leave this multiple weeks lasting isolation period as a polyglot.
Since we’re in 2020 and have an app for everything, we came up with a list of top 5 language apps so when your grandkids ask you what have you been doing during the great pandemic of 2020, you’ll not just tell them you sent memes but also learned a language.
Probably the most known multiple language app there is. You’ll enjoy the app’s colorful interface and short, game-like exercises. The app doesn’t restrict how many languages you can try to learn at the same time (although two is a good maximum for a start if you want to retain anything). To make sure you don’t get rusty on the basics, even if you’ve “mastered” a skill by reaching a higher level, the skill can still “shatter” if you don’t review it consistently. Practice the skill again and it’ll repair itself. That way it keeps you practicing. There is also a “streak” feature, which motivates you to keep going by tracking the number of days you’ve reached your point goal. In the app, you can access resources such as Duolingo Stories, which are short audio stories that allow you to check your comprehension skills as you go. Duolingo basic version is free.
Are you more of a visual learner? Then this app just might be it. Its colorful layout and visual attractiveness definitely make languages less intimidating. The good thing is that Drops also has Asian languages and is constantly adding new languages, most recently, the app brought on Ainu, an indigenous Japanese language. If you don’t subscribe to premium for $10 per month, you have to wait 10 hours to access another lesson, but you can check out your statistics after completing the lesson.
Memrise is another free language learning app. It’s not as smooth as Duolingo, but it is easy to work with, supports offline courses, and lets you learn a massive number of languages. You can start off simple or skip all the way through to more advanced lessons. The unique thing about Memrise is how it teaches you new words and phrases. Words are put into sentences with similar sounding words from your native language to help build the connection for remembering them. You’ll also sometimes see multiple images that you can scroll through that overlay the foreign text with a recognizable image for added association. Another method Memrise uses is to teach you a different language is by mixing up the translations. This way you learn a few new words at once, and then you keep learning them over and over again in a different order to ensure you know them before moving you through to the next round.
Rosetta Stone is a professional-grade service for language learning, but they offer a free app meant specifically to help travelers learn basic words and phrases. There are dozens of pictures tied to common phrases that are spoken to you in the language you’re wanting to learn, and you have to repeat the words back to practice your pronunciation. You can skip forward to any lesson you like or just follow through from beginning to end. There’s also a phrase book with basic words and words related to restaurants, hotels, and getting around—all very useful for someone traveling. You can buy more phrase books if you like, such as words related to shopping, colors, emergencies, and currencies. A very broad language tool!
Busuu is an all-around super option that gives you a wide range of learning activities. Boasting over 80 million users worldwide, the best aspect of Busuu is its interactivity. With 12 languages, full courses, exercise reviews from native speakers, and accent training, you get a complete experience with Busuu. You can begin with a placement test so that you start at the right level. This is terrific if you are not a complete beginner but want to practice language skills you learned earlier. The app also provides offline access, grammar tips, and official certificates with its premium upgrade.
Pick your poison and learn a new language. And remember, learning a language is like a bicycle, once you learn, you know it for life (that doesn’t mean you should keep practicing though). Now your quarantine all of a sudden doesn’t seem so boring huh?