Is it possible to learn languages for free? In the era of universal access to the web and a whole palette of applications designed for this purpose – yes, it is. We help you choose the best free programs that will make you a real polyglot.
Vacation voyages and exploring new places, cultures, and languages make us eager to decide to learn a foreign language. However, summer enthusiasm can be illusory, and the sense of inspiring self-realization can turn into an unpleasant chore – especially after the vacation/holiday is over.
Although your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and a whole flock of uncles and aunts are sure to hammer into your head from a young age that today knowledge of languages is basic, you know how it is in reality – to completely not know English, you really need to make an effort. A person will lick a bit of the language at school, even if he won’t be the most ambitious listener in class. On top of that, he will pick up this and that from games, TV series, or songs – and that’s enough to not be embarrassed at the high school graduation. Over time, however, we realize how chaotic and incomplete our knowledge is. Soon it turns out that we can brilliantly exchange English-language names of passives from our favorite games, but asking for directions or buying a ticket abroad is beyond our capabilities. Then there’s the job search – without a decent command of English, it’s hard to get a lucrative position today.
Unfortunately, language courses (especially those ending with a certificate) cost their own money. This price is all the more painful as, the weaker human motivation is. After all, there is nothing worse than paying in advance for a year’s study, which you abandon halfway through despite the lack of a refund option. Fortunately, there is a way to avoid such unpleasant twists and turns – language learning apps (especially English). This is a great solution to:
- Lower the cost of learning a language (we can, for example, learn the basics ourselves and start with an intermediate course or master the material ourselves and pay only for the certification exam),
- Refresh dusty language skills we haven’t used in a long time,
- See if we have enough desire and motivation to take up a new language at a given time,
- To see if a given foreign language “suits” us at all (this argument is more appropriate for learning less popular foreign languages, but with English, it will also work – after all, those exceptionally resistant to its charms can try with other desirable languages in the world, such as Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, German or Russian),
- Stay current with the language (especially when we don’t have to use it every day).
All the suggestions listed below are free or only with the possibility of a paid extension. In practice, however, it looks like that if you want to use any of the applications to the fullest and have a strong motivation to learn the language, the financial outlay is unlikely to be avoided (because, after all, the ads sooner or later really start to get on your nerves). However, these are residual amounts compared to courses, so the thing still seems worthwhile. In addition, I tried to choose applications that are diverse in their operation and goals so that everyone will find something tailored to their needs.
The above list is just a selection of a few apps from a sea of software options. However, it illustrates well the diversity of (and free!) options for language training at home. Whether you want to start with the basics, brush up on grammar, or simply test your skills in practice, there is something for everyone. With a wide range of teaching methods – from simple translations of grammar rules to changing the delivery form to maximize brain work, to mini-games and a variety of trivia – speaking a new language can be fun, not an unpleasant school chore. Find the learning model that’s right for you, and the holiday enthusiasm will stay with you until the final certification test.
Duolingo is one of the most popular applications for learning foreign languages (there are already dozens available, and the list is constantly expanding). People who only know their native language, however, don’t have much choice – as only English can be learned with Polish as the initial language. For fans of Star Trek or Game of Thrones, this should be an additional motivation to tame Shakespeare’s speech because Duolingo also offers the possibility to learn Klingon and Valyrian. However, the application owes its popularity rather to its completely free-of-charge and extensive gamification system.
- Motivating gamification system,
- Aesthetically appealing and clear application,
- Many languages to choose from.
- Relatively high price for removing ads,
- Although Duolingo offers to learn of many languages, you need to know English to start learning them.
Education can begin with the basics or by completing a leveling test. The intensity of the “classes” is set by the user himself (from 5 to 20 minutes a day) and can be changed in the course. And what does the learning look like? The user gradually learns more vocabulary, whole statements, and grammatical constructions. Then, the material is consolidated by translating from English to Polish, selecting the proper meaning equivalents of words for a given language, placing words in the correct form, composing sentences, or repeating phrases aloud (recorded by a smartphone microphone).
English Grammar (Visual App)
- In the free version, the only hindrance is really the ads, which can be removed anyway for a relatively low price,
- Aesthetically attractive and clear application,
- Focus on a specific topic (grammar).
- Lack of Polish translation.
- English Grammar is not an app for learning English completely from scratch but for further training in grammar. Unfortunately, it does not have a Polish translation.
English Grammar covers more than 100 popular grammar topics, which are explained with simple explanations, many examples, and colorful illustrations. More than 2,000 grammar questions are designed to gradually improve the skills of users who would like to take a certified exam in the future, where knowledge of grammar is essential. If you usually understand what someone is saying to you in English but would have trouble constructing a correct statement yourself, English Grammar will be perfect for you.
- In the free version, the only hindrance is really the ads, which can be inexpensively removed anyway,
- The focus on mastering specific material, small in total, which is supposed to enable a person to have basic communication,
- Differentiated forms of information delivery and tests make learning more topics easier.
- More ads than in the average app,
- One would like Livango to have an option for further education after completing the basic course.
Livango advertises itself with the slogan “1000 most popular words, spelling, pronunciation, grammar,” and that really sums up the content of this app. The creators are based on two assumptions. First, if one learns the 1,000 most commonly used words, one will understand 80% of the content (the remaining 20% is supposed to be clear through context). Second, if one receives the same message given in several different ways, one will remember it faster.
Education takes place through the assimilation of issues divided into practical topics. Testing your knowledge, in turn, is done in Livango through a system of increasingly complex tests.
First, you choose one of the words to translate; then you put the word together from scattered letters, or translate the word by ear; there is an increase in the number of options from the available suggestions to choose from, and so on. The tests are also varied with, for example, word-combining games or a memory game.
- Aesthetically appealing and clear application,
- Ability to use the help of a community with similar goals (language learning),
- Option (in the paid version) to obtain a certificate confirming knowledge of the language at a certain level,
- Feedback on the real level of mastery of the material (grades instead of “pass/fail”).
- In the free version, a limitation on the pace of learning.
Busuu is not a typical course app for learning English. In fact, it’s a huge online community of people who want to learn and help each other. Here we can choose not only English but also, for example, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Turkish, or Arabic. The idea behind Busuu is based on two elements – the course and communication with others, who can point out to us the mistakes we have made in comments on public statements.
We can start learning from the basics or by completing a leveling test. The material is divided into thematic issues as in typical school textbooks. The application imparts knowledge to users through fiches, grammar exercises, and recordings. Bussu is distinguished by the way it checks the acquired knowledge. Instead of “pass/fail” information, here we get a specific grade (from A to D).
- Professionally made and extensive application,
- Ability to communicate with people from different parts of the world, speaking a wide variety of languages.
- Quite a few limitations in the free version.
HelloTalk serves more to tame a language than to learn it. This app aims to allow people from all over the world who are learning different languages and would like to test their knowledge in practice to communicate. In practice, it looks a bit like Twitter (since you can be watched and add people to watchers yourself to follow their short posts on a sort of “wall”) with a function for sending text messages, which can also be listened to in order to learn the correct pronunciation of a given speech or word. The number of languages available to learn is actually limited by the users themselves – how many they know, that’s how many are available.
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