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Top 5 Language Apps for Immigrants

Oct 18, 2021

An immigrant looks at a language app on her phone.

Why use a language app?

Building new language skills is one of the many challenges that immigrants face. Not understanding the local tongue can make a simple task, like going to the grocery store, a major endeavor. More than that, not having a grasp of the language can make it far more difficult to find work in a new country, which, needless to say, is necessary.

In this blog post, we’ll show you the top 5 language apps you can use to learn the local tongue.

Best Language Apps for Immigrants

1. Duolingo

This is a great app for people who love a little friendly competition. By gamifying the lessons, Duolingo scores you as you learn. Those scores then get published on a leaderboard, where you can compete with people from all over the world. As you move through Duolingo, you can gain experience points, level up, and earn badges for successfully completing challenges.

And, under the criteria of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), you can get as high as a B2 level. With a variety of teaching methods, 40 languages, and 106 courses, Duolingo is a great option for new arrivals.

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2. Babbel

Babbel — taken from a German-Hessian word meaning “to chat” — is one of the most effective apps on the market, with several studies showing major benefits. One researcher said “virtually all study participants made a gain in their language knowledge and/or ability to communicate.” Offering 14 languages, this app provides a truly accessible learning experience by breaking down each lesson into short easy-to-follow chunks.

What’s more, this app doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all method. Each language is taught according to its own unique demands and cultural specificities. And, if you’re willing to pay for a subscription, you can take live classes through the app.

3. Lingoda

Lingoda is a great option for people interested in a more hands-on approach. With this app, you’ll have an experienced, native-speaking teacher encouraging you to speak up during classes — to help spur you on as you tackle this major challenge. And with classes available around the clock, you can cancel and reschedule at a moment’s notice, so you don’t have to stress about fitting it into your schedule.

Even better, Lingoda classes will go beyond traditional grammar and sentence structure, teaching you the idiomatic expressions used by actual local speakers. This is key for anyone looking to navigate real-life scenarios, like going to work or shopping for groceries. You will, however, have to pay anywhere from $6.75 to $9.50 per class.

4. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone has been around since the early 1990s, starting life as a purchasable CD-ROM. Through the years, the company has continued to adapt to new consumer demands, making itself available through a number of different channels, including its very own iPhone app. With Rosetta Stone, you can choose to pay either $11.99 per month or $299 for lifetime access to its resources.

Upon subscription, you’ll have access to 25 languages and a wide array of teaching interfaces — including one called truACCENT, designed to help fine-tune your dialect. You can also use the Rosetta Stone phrasebook and audio companions to continually improve your skills. This app will even provide a bespoke lesson plan, catered to your particular goals and needs, in addition to live online lessons with real teachers.

5. HelloTalk

If you’re someone who learns better through real, immersive conversation, HelloTalk might be for you. This app connects users looking to learn a language with other users who already speak that language fluently. While there are no lessons on this app, it does provide a low-stakes context for testing your skills. You could even use HelloTalk, in combination with one of the apps above, to supplement your study.

To help facilitate interactions, the app provides a number of different features, including translation, transliteration, and in-app corrections. What’s more, it’s free. Unless you decide to purchase the premium version, which allows you to bypass ads.

If you’re in the midst of the visa application process, and you need help with translation, check out Boundless’ article on translating your immigration documents.

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