Drops is a phone app for iPhone and Android that covers 33 languages. Daily games test the user on thousands of vocabulary words, and many of these words are ideal for everyday use. Drops has an entertaining, user-friendly interface, but it also lacks grammar lessons, and it works better for some languages than others. For anyone looking to supplement their vocab lessons, this app is worth considering; however, the free version might be more worthwhile than the paid version.
Preply is an online educational platform that matches tutors with students. There are tutors on Preply offering instruction in a wide range of languages and other subjects. As a learner, you can find a tutor that works best for you by browsing their demo videos and filtering by price and rating. Each tutor’s teaching style is their own.
Live Lingua is an online language school that pairs students with certified teachers for one-on-one online classes. The platform aims to provide a more personalized service than online tutor directories by assigning a personal class coordinator and a customized curriculum for each student. Lessons are available in seven different popular languages and for a variety of different courses.
uTalk is a software program and mobile app offering learning material in over 140 languages. Its approach is based on learning keywords and phrases through gameplay. It covers a wide range of phrases, each spoken by a female and male native speaker, consequently offering listening and pronunciation practice.
uTalk is most useful for beginners who want to get started in a language by learning key phrases. It could also be useful for intermediates looking to fill gaps in their vocabulary and pronunciation, but it does not offer any in-depth language instruction or grammar explanations.
It’s also worth mentioning that for some languages, such as Basque, the occasional overly literal translation leads to small errors and unnatural phrasing creeping in. However, we haven’t seen instances in which this would result in you being misunderstood, and there’s no denying uTalk’s value for languages with fewer learning resources.
Speaky is a social language-learning app for people interested in language exchange. It’s available for iOS, Android, and the web. Users can chat with other language learners, share photos, leave voice messages or even have voice calls. The basic features on Speaky are free to use, but access to more than five translations per day requires a subscription.
Lingo Mastery Short Stories
Lingo Mastery provides 20 short stories in a series of advanced beginner books (about A2 on the CEFR scale) for various languages. Each book has a vocabulary list, reading comprehension questions, and a summary in both English and the target language.
If your primary goal is to acquire new vocabulary, then Lingo Mastery’s Short Story series may be helpful to increase your skills. Each chapter has a specific language focus, such as directions, verbs, nouns, or activities. These stories have a considerable number of unique words, so you may find yourself referring to the vocabulary list more frequently than in other graded readers.
Keep in mind that the stories are not as engaging as a novel you might read in your native tongue, but the repetition is helpful to familiarize you with different concepts. Other graded readers, like those by Olly Richards, ESLC, and Mandarin Companion follow a single storyline — each chapter in Lingo Mastery, however, follows a separate storyline. Therefore, although the chapters are a manageable length, finishing one may not make you eager to move onto the next.
If you do decide to invest in these readers, make sure to buy the Kindle version, which is about 20% of the paperback price.
DeerPlus, also known as LingoDeer Plus, is a cute, gamified app from the makers of Lingodeer. It sets out to teach you words, phrases, and grammar through 11 different games, but it’s best used as a supplementary tool.
You’ll drill vocabulary, build phrases, select the right particles, decide if a sentence is grammatically correct or not, do conjugation exercises, answer listening comprehension questions, and more. What you won’t do is learn the material prior to being tested like you do with LingoDeer (review), DeerPlus’ sister app.
DeerPlus is a fun supplementary tool that would work well alongside most resources, but especially LingoDeer. However, it’s a shame that there aren’t SRS features in what is essentially a review app.
A word of warning: you can study in a range of languages, but not all the games have been translated. We were shocked when we switched from studying Japanese via Spanish to Japanese via English and discovered grammar and “integrated” games in addition to the five vocabulary and phrase-based ones we had been playing.
Mango Languages is a pretty good resource with numerous languages available along with their regional variations. It’ll work the best for beginners or for those interested in studying a few languages at the same time. Anybody past the intermediate level won’t find Mango Languages very useful.
Write it! will teach you the basic scripts of several different languages, using audio by native speakers to familiarize you with proper pronunciation. You can first practice learning to write a small set of characters, then you can test yourself through answering multiple-choice questions and more writing exercises.
Although the interface is less flashy than Write Me, Write It! may be a better option for Korean learners because you will learn how to write Hangul from the start. Similar to Write Me and Scripts by Drops, Write It! doesn’t seem to give much background about each script. However, the creators of Write It! also developed Infinite, which you can use for free to learn and practice beginner words that use your chosen alphabet.
You can test out Write it! (free), Write Me (paid lifetime access), and Scripts by Drops (monthly or lifetime access) to see which app best suits the language you are learning. For more comprehensive apps, check out Eggbun for Korean or Skritter for Chinese and Japanese.