Best Language Learning Apps 2024 | Free And Paid

best learning language apps 2021

I have been learning foreign languages my whole life. First, English and French in high school; then, Japanese and a bit of Chinese in college. I also picked up some Spanish while I was traveling around South America and Mexico for over a year. And when I moved to Brazil last year, I had to start the process all over again and learn yet another language.  

My move to Brazil coincided with the pandemic, so there was no way I could learn Portuguese the same way I learned all other languages - in the classroom. Since I didn't have any other option, I decided to try a different approach. And thus began my search for the best online language learning platform.

Luckily, the Internet today is full of great resources that can teach you new languages using fun and scientifically proven methods that help you retain information. Many of these online resources also offer mobile applications for learning on the go, which is very handy for someone like me who is juggling parenting and work and doesn't have a lot of free time.

Do Language Learning Apps Truly work?

In this article, I’ve broken down a few of the most popular online language learning platforms to give you a quick overview of what they have to offer, what they cost to use, and what some online reviewers have to say about their experience using the services. Just think about it: in two months from now, you could be speaking a whole new language if you dedicate some time now to learning!

Top 10 Online Language Learning Apps To Try In 2024

1. italki

Italki is an online language learning service that connects students to language teachers using scheduled video chats. 

Italki number 1 in language learning apps by IMHO Reviews

What is italki?

Italki began in 2006 as a social network focused on language learning, and then in 2008, the company began hiring teachers. Italki now has more than 10,000 teachers available online to help students practice speaking. Students can schedule lessons ahead of time with a teacher of their choosing, and all lessons are then customized to your needs.  

How many languages can you learn with italki? 

Italki has teachers for more than 130 languages, the most popular are: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, Italian, and Russian. 

How much is italki?

Teachers set their own prices on Italki. The minimum cost is $8 for the one-on-one lessons and $4 for group lessons. 

What is unique about italki?

Italki is an on-demand lesson service that allows students to pay as they go instead of committing to a long-term subscription. Italki also offers special language challenges to motivate students to keep learning. 

What do people have to say about italki?

Trustpilot users gave italki 4.8 out of 5 stars among 6,920 reviewers. Users say that they enjoy connecting with native speakers, but some users say that teachers sometimes change prices without warning. 

What level of fluency does Italki offer?

The sky is the limit with Italki. The app’s setup is unique compared with other platforms on this list. The goal is to engage one-on-one with a tutor or teacher that is a native speaker of the language. Because of this, you are going to get far better results than with computerized and/or recorded apps. italki pricier, but in my opinion, it is so worth it.

2. Pimsleur

What is Pimsleur?

Pimselur is consistently among the highest-rated language learning platforms. The site and app utilize the Pimsleur Method of language learning, created by Dr. Paul Pimsleur. The Pimsleur Method has been used by government agencies and Fortune 500 companies for more than 50 years. The method focuses heavily on conversational learning, noting that most people want to learn a language so they can speak with a friend or order at a restaurant in another county, not necessarily write a novel in a foreign language. While Pimsleur does employ techniques to teach grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, their prime objective is to get students listening to and speaking the language in a conversational manner. 

What does Pimsleur cost?

You get what you pay for, and in order to get a high-quality product like Pimsleur, be prepared to fork over a bit of dough. Monthly subscriptions for most languages are $19.95, which can be canceled at any time. Note the phrase "for most languages"; this is important for two reasons. Firstly, some languages cost more than others, and that is primarily based on the level of content available.

But the bigger takeaway is that you only get access to one language at a time. For most learners, that is not a big deal, but it’s important to note if you are the type that likes to dabble in a little bit of everything. There are also multi-language options available, as well as CDs and other downloads, but Pimsleur doesn’t market those heavily or reveal specific prices.

What is unique about Pimsleur?

I mentioned earlier that Pimsleur focuses on conversational learning, and that method makes it unique to some extent. The Pimsleur Method also embraces learning in small increments. While a lot of programs will support learning at your own pace, Pimsleur - while they will allow you to go as quickly as you’d like - encourages one 20-30 minute lesson per day. Each subsequent lesson contains about half review and half new material; the repetition from day-to-day helps reinforce phrases and words that have been previously learned.

What do people have to say about Pimsleur? gives Pimsleur its highest review of all language apps, an impressive 9.9/10. PC Magazine and All Language Resources grant it a 4 out of 5 ratings. Reddit and other sites that don’t necessarily give ratings have generally positive reviews.

The one negative, besides cost, that shows up consistently is that the lessons themselves can be a bit boring; much of the focus of these reviews is the lack of something “to do.” I talked about Mondly above, which focuses on games and other interactive tools. Pimsleur takes the other route. Much of the content is based on listening and repeating, as well as using your knowledge to have conversations with recorded voices. While their mobile app provides some quizzes, it’s not going to be as much “fun” as many other apps.

What level of fluency does Pimsleur offer?

Because it focuses on conversational learning, Pimsleur is widely regarded as the best tool for becoming a close-to-fluent speaker. If you are interested in becoming more fluent with spelling, reading, and writing, it may fall short. Online reviews, though, are overwhelmingly positive in terms of language comprehension and proper pronunciation.

3. Babbel

Babbel teaches foreign languages through live, virtual classes that are taught by real teachers. It’s ranked as the world's #1 innovative company in education.  

Babbel is number 4 as best language learning app by IMHO Reviews

What is Babbel?

Babbel is the first language learning online application to be created. According to the company, 73% of its users are able to have simple conversations in a foreign language within a few hours of using Babbel. A mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices.

How many languages can you learn with Babbel?

Babbel offers 14 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Indonesian. 

How much is Babbel?

The first lesson in every course offered through Babbel is free to try. From there, users have a variety of paid subscription options that range from $6.95 per month to $13.95 per month, depending on how long you commit to the program. 

What is unique about Babbel? 

Babbel tailors its courses to help its students expand their grammar and vocabulary skills. The app is designed to help you absorb and retain information using a didactic method. During the learning process, Babbel repeats words at different memory stages, called spaced repetition, which helps your brain retain the material you learn.  

What do people have to say about Babbel?

Trustpilot reviewers gave Babbel 4.6 out of 5 stars, among 16,353 total reviews. Users said Babbel makes it convenient to use the app from anywhere and it can get users to an intermediate level in most languages. Users did note that subscriptions will auto-renew and that the app is somewhat limited in teaching you how to speak and pronounce words in a new language. 

What level of fluency does Babbel offer?

Babbel is focused on conversational learning. So everything depends on your definition of fluency: if your goal is to be able to have a complex conversation and sound like you know what you are talking about, then Babbel is a good fit for you. However, if you want to read your favorite Tolstoy novel in its native Russian, that may be a different story. Since the app is focused on the conversational aspects of the language, the reading/writing elements, specifically grammar and formal structure, are slightly overlooked.

4. Duolingo

Duolingo is an online language learning company that believes everyone should have equal access to learning a language. It has more than 300 million users worldwide. Last year, Duolingo was named the Most Innovative Company by Fast Company, Forbes Best Startup Employers, and CNBC’s Disrupter 50. 

Duolingo is number 3 in best learning languages apps and it is free

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is a free online language learning service that uses short, fun lessons to teach you new languages. The Duolingo app is available on iOS and Android devices. 

How many languages can you learn with Duolingo?

Duolingo offers 40 languages: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Dutch, Latin, Swedish, Irish, Greek, Polish, Norwegian, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Catalan, Hawaiian, Danish, Indonesian, High Valyrian, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Romanian, Finnish, Czech, Swahili, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Klingon, Esperanto, Navajo, Guarani, and Yiddish. 

How much is Duolingo?

Duolingo is free to use, though it does offer a paid version that does not contain ads and has a few more perks for $12.99 per month or $89.99 per year (there is also a 2-week free trial for Duolingo Plus plan) . The company was founded on the belief that anyone should have access to language learning opportunities. So, every lesson available on Duolingo is free and there are no hidden fees or premium content. 

What is unique about Duolingo?

Aside from being completely free, Duolingo delivers lessons that can help users in real-life situations. For example, students learn how to order food at a restaurant or talk about the weather.

Duolingo uses algorithms that tailor content to each student based on their needs and preferences. 

What do people have to say about Duolingo?

Users on Trustpilot gave Duolingo 2.4 out of 5 stars, among 464 total reviews. Reviewers said that it’s nice to have a free way to learn a language, but some say the lessons are too basic with little introductory material. Also, Duolingo sends frequent reminders to study, which some found to be annoying.  

What level of fluency does Duolingo offer?

Duolingo is a crazy popular app; in fact, it’s the most widely-used language app in existence today. Granted, a lot of the reason for that is likely because of its price tag: $0. That’s right, it’s a totally free app, save for the annoyance of constant ads. Students love its simplicity and how engaging the bite-sized games and exercises are. Fluency, however, is a pipe dream. Reviews on the platform are consistent: it’s a great, fun tool for picking up basics or reinforcing your existing knowledge, but Duolingo will never deliver you fluency in a new language.

5. Memrise

Memrise uses videos and flashcards to help you memorize the language. 

memrise is number 7 in best learning language apps in 2021 by imho reviews

What is Memrise?

Memrise offers lessons online and through its mobile app that uses real-life language and video clips that help students hear how native speakers talk. More than 50 million people use Memrise to learn foreign languages. It focuses on three steps: basic translation, building understanding, and receiving feedback. 

How many languages can you learn with Memrise?

Memrise offers 22 languages: French, Spanish (Spain/Mexico), German, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Turkish, Chinese, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese (Portugal/Brazil), Swedish, Russian, Norwegian, Polish, Danish, Icelandic, Japanese, Mongolian, Slovenian, and Yoruba. 

How much is Memrise?

Memrise is $99.99 for a lifetime subscription. 

What is unique about Memrise?

Memrise tried to make language learning fun, so you’ll want to keep going. It only approves lessons and content that is entertaining. 

What do people have to say about Memrise?

Trustpilot users gave Memrise 3.3 out of 5 stars among 30 reviews. Users say that the service is indeed fun, but some ran into problems when they tried to contact customer service. 

What level of fluency does Memrise offer?

Let’s get right to the main premise with Memrise: it’s a lot of fun. Branded as the most “gamified” app, it helps users learn in a fun, engaging way to avoid the boredom and drudgery of listening and repeating the same phrases over and over. However, a path to fluency isn’t paved with games, and online reviews support the idea that the app is more useful to build vocabulary or work on sentence structure than it is to gain fluency. In almost a reversal of most other apps reviewed, Memrise struggles with the conversational aspects of language, which is obviously a key element in overall fluency.

6. Busuu

Busuu offers online lessons in 12 different languages to more than 100 million users worldwide. In 2020, Busuu was named one of the top 50 transformational growth companies in education technology by Global EdTech 50.  

Busuu is number 2 in top learning language apps by IMHO Reviews

What is Busuu? 

Busuu was founded in 2008 and later partnered with education company McGraw-Hill Education to offer certification to their students. The company specializes in language learning at the beginner to upper-intermediate level. 

Fun fact: “Busuu” is actually the name of a nearly extinct language that is still used in the country of Cameroon. It is spoken by a total of eight people. 

How many languages can you learn with Busuu?

Busuu offers lessons in 12 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic. The language courses focus on four main skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. 

How much is Busuu?

You can sign up for free, or you can subscribe to a Premium membership that unlocks more features including advanced grammar lessons, offline learning mode, options for education certifications, and an adaptive vocabulary trainer. 

A Premium plan is €5,83 per month, billed annually. A Premium Plus plan is €6,66 per month, billed annually. 

What is unique about Busuu?

Through Busuu’s partnership with McGraw-Hill, Busuu offers official certification to students who successfully learn a language.

In 2016, the company launched Busuu for Organizations, which allows large organizations to have easy access to Busuu’s Premium language learning courses that help track students’ learning progress. Those enrolled in the Premium courses can participate in classroom sessions and access more learning materials. 

Plus, with more than 100 million virtual classmates, Busuu users can communicate with language learners around the world. That means you can find native speakers in the language you are learning to help teach you, and you can help other people learn the languages you are fluent in. 

Busuu is designed to keep students motivated for learning by encouraging them to engage with Busuu’s large community of fellow students. 

What do people have to say about Busuu?

Users on Trustpilot give Busuu 4.2 stars out of 5, among 8,857 total reviews. Users say they receive good customer support and that the app helped them improve their language skills with regular use. Some users did note that Busuu will auto-renew your subscription without notifying you beforehand. 

What level of fluency does Busuu offer?

Busuu has its benefits, but it appears that achieving a high level of fluency isn’t one of them. Based on user reviews around the internet, the content itself consists of lazy, simple, and sometimes incorrect translations. Users really enjoy the learning model, which includes access to a review of your work by native speakers and an entrance exam to determine your existing skill level, but the effectiveness leaves a lot to be desired.

7. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is one of the original companies that offered private language learning services, back when the Internet was just getting started. 

rosetta stone is number 5 of Best Learning language apps by imho reviews

What is Rosetta Stone? 

Rosetta Stone was founded in 1992 and today uses cloud-based technology to help students learn different languages. It was one of the first computer-based language learning programs available, first offered on CD-ROM technology. 

How many languages can you learn with Rosetta Stone? 

Rosetta Stone offers more than 30 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Italian, Filipino, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. 

How much is Rosetta Stone? 

Rosetta Stone sells 3-month, 12-month, and lifetime subscriptions ranging from about $12 per month to one payment of $199. 

What is unique about Rosetta Stone? 

Rosetta Stone uses an immersion method to teach languages. It also provides printable reports to help you keep track of lesson progress and other data.  

What do people have to say about Rosetta Stone?

Trustpilot users gave Rosetta Stone 4.3 out of 5 stars among 5,744 reviews. Users said it was easy to follow the simple teaching method and short lessons. Some noted that there was little explanation on how to properly use grammar. 

What level of fluency does Rosetta Stone offer?

A lot of folks view Rosetta Stone like an old VCR: it was great at its prime, but has been surpassed by new technology and is now virtually obsolete. But don’t cast Rosetta Stone off into the junk pile just yet. There’s something to be said for experience, and Rosetta Stone has been in the market since the mid-90s. While it's no longer the sexiest title out there, its approach of “dynamic immersion” has proven successful. Online reviews are somewhat mixed, but a good portion of those that have used the product believe it provides the most complete, well-rounded solution towards overall fluency.

8. Rype App

Rype is a prepaid subscription-based service that allows you to book private language lessons with teachers. 

Rypeapp is number 6 in top language learning apps for 2021 by imho reviews

What is Rype?

Rype focuses on one-on-one language lessons. You begin by telling Rype how much time you have to devote to learning every month and then book a teacher to work with. From there, you receive interactive and flexible lessons to work through. 

How many languages can you learn with Rype?

Rype offers 10 languages: Spanish, French, German, English, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Russian and Portuguese. 

How much is Rype?

It costs $59.99 for eight lessons per month, $159.99 for 20 lessons per month, a six-month subscription of 8 lessons per month is $79.99 per month and a six-month subscription of 20 lessons per month is $179.99 per month. 

What is unique about Rype?

Rype has live teachers available 24/7 to help you practice a new language. This one-on-one approach can help language learners at any level pinpoint their specific needs and practice real-life conversations. 

What do people have to say about Rype?

Trustpilot users gave Rype 4.4 out of 5 stars among 75 reviews. Users say it’s easy to book lessons at their own pace and that customer service is very responsive. Teachers on the other hand say that the app makes it difficult to make money and connect with students. 

What level of fluency does Rype offer?

Rype has a lot of the same pros and cons of italki, because it is also based upon one-on-one lessons. Rather than rehash those elements, we can summarize by saying this: if you are willing to pay to have a dedicated tutor, you are much more likely to succeed than if you listen to recordings of fabricated conversations. Is it worth it? That is in the eye of the cardholder. For me, this is a no-brainer: yes, you pay more, but you get much better results. So, totally worth it.

9. Mondly 

What is Mondly?

Mondly is a language learning app that uses games and other interactive features to facilitate learning. It is targeted at a fairly wide array of students but focuses much of its effort on those that embrace technology. A twenty-something that enjoys touch games on his iPhone is much more likely to benefit from Mondly than a grandma who likes to learn by listening and reciting in the car. Mondly can be used on mobile devices as well as an Internet browser.

Mondly Review 2021: Does it work? Can it Make You Fluent?

What does Mondly cost?

Mondly offers free lessons to get you going, but you’ll need to spring for the Premium subscription if you want to reach any level of fluency. Subscriptions for a single language are $9.99 per month or $47.99 per year, though they often offer the $47.99 per year price to include all 41 of their language offerings.

What is unique about Mondly?

I already mentioned Mondly's embracing of technology above; this is most apparent with their Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) learning options. Though they are not necessary for learning a foreign language, it is a cool feature for those that have and enjoy that kind of technology. Mondly also boasts a unique feature of including a children’s learning app, which is included with their subscription plans; the app is aimed specifically at teaching youngsters a new language through playing simple, fun games.

What do people have to say about Mondly?

As one may expect, reviews for Mondly are varied. PC Magazine, for example, rates it only a 2.5/5, noting that it is too simple., on the other hand, rates it 8.8/10, placing it behind only Pimsleur and Babbel.

I believe, that Mondly offers lots of features and a good amount of content, but most of that content isn’t particularly helpful for learning a new language, especially ones that have complex grammar rules.

What level of fluency does Mondly offer?

Like most apps, Mondly claims that you can become fluent using their app. Be wary, though: their site claims that “in reality, you can be fluent and articulate with a vocabulary of only 2500 words and phrases.” This plants a little doubt into how committed they are to you achieving fluency, although it is important to note that quote came from a section touting their free lessons.

10. Rocket Languages

Rocket Languages was created by Jason Oxenham to provide language courses to people who didn’t get a chance to learn foreign languages in school. Oxenham says he tried to use language programs on the market, and never found an effective program that kept him engaged. Out of his frustration, Jason created Rocket Languages. Rocket Languages offers comprehensive language lessons, in a variety of languages, for even the most basic beginners.

Rocket Languages

Rocket Languages gives you an excellent foundation, but no program will be a magic pill to make you fluent. You need to be willing to do some hard work if you truly want to become fluent in a new language. Take what you learn from Rocket Languages and immerse yourself in that language to be fully fluent. This could involve moving to a new country, listening to radio programs from that country, or finding some friends who also want to learn that foreign language.