24 FEBRUARY, 2021


While international travel is still inaccessible to us given the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, there are things you can still do to “travel” and make yourself productive. You can go places by reading travel books or, better yet, prepare for your next trip by learning a new language!

Why learn a new language?

There are many perks in language learning that help you become a better traveler and, at the same time, develop a deeper appreciation and understanding for your own local languages and may urge you, later on, to want to learn our own Filipino dialects.

In addition, language learning is also essential in building your social skills as it helps you speak easier and with more confidence with locals. It also helps you connect with them and appreciate their culture better. Truly, some would even argue that honing your communication skills is just as vital as being able to read a map.

With all those perks, why wouldn’t you want to add a new language to your repertoire of must-have travel skills, right? You don’t even need to be a fluent speaker. In fact, even just learning basic phrases and greetings can already help you communicate better while traveling.

Get started on learning a new language

With the right attitude, a goal in mind, and some tips for language learning you can start on the path of learning a new one.

In this day and age, there’s little need for you to enroll yourself in a course to learn a foreign language and just learn with the help of apps. These apps often “gamify” (to incorporate features of a game) the teaching process to help provide you with a fun and self-paced learning experience.

But with over 6,500 languages all over the world, what should you start learning? Well, how about starting with the top 10 most-learned languages according to Duolingo’s 2020 Language Report?

Why these languages?

Simple: because the world is, thankfully, becoming more and more inclusive.

Thanks mainly to events like The Olympics and the attention given to dramas and other culturally specific art and entertainment forms, interest in learning foreign languages other than English has grown tremendously.

To learn a new language is your way of getting initiated into this world that is more accepting and open to the wonders of other cultures. Here are 10 language apps you can use to start learning.

What are you waiting for? Get your smartphone and free up some space. Afterward, go to your App Store or Play Store and start downloading these apps. Try them out and find out which apps work best for you.


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1. English - Duolingo

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore)

Duolingo is one of the well-known language learning apps in the market with more than 300 million users. While English is the most popular, the app is also ideal for people whose goal is to become multilingual.

This app gamifies language learning making it not only easy and effective but also enjoyable for the students learning different languages. Homeworks are also given so you will feel that you’re really learning a language in a class but with a fun twist.

While Duolingo Plus offers additional benefits, those who don’t want to pay a premium will be happy to know that it’s completely optional. Otherwise, Duolingo is completely free.


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2. Spanish - SpeakEasy

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

SpeakEasy has a Spanish phrasebook containing helpful expressions that come in handy when you travel to a Spanish-speaking country. Translation and phonetic translation of words and phrases are provided to know how to pronounce these easily.

Since native speakers may speak the language fast, the app also has audio recordings as to how a native speaker would pronounce phrases. Note that you can play these slowly so you can understand the phrases better. This will help you immerse yourself in the language the way natives communicate.


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3. French - Pimsleur

Available platforms: iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

If you love auditory learning, you will love Pimsleur, especially if you’re learning French. The language has a lot of inflections and silent letters so auditory learning helps you determine how to read and pronounce words and phrases properly.

This language app adapts the “Pimsleur method” wherein specific words such as verbs are taught first so that the student can learn the most frequently used words of the language. It is also vital in learning the language structure and how to properly use them in sentences to make their phrases more understandable to native speakers.

Each lesson lasts for 30 minutes only and must be accomplished in one sitting which is ideal for employees who want to be productive during lunch breaks. Speaking and listening activities are done in each session. New words are still repeated in succeeding lessons and are being less frequently repeated in subsequent lessons. This technique is effective especially in helping the students memorize important words and phrases they have learned earlier.


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4. German - Babbel

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

For those who want an app for an online learning experience, it is best to opt for Babbel. This app offers much useful content for a low price and is best for a beginner up to intermediate language learners. This app is focused on helping students learn new words, improve grammar skills, sentence structures, and conversation skills. To retain learned grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, quizzes are provided. A pronunciation checker is also a feature in the app. This will help you know where to put emphasis on words and phrases especially when conversing.

In three weeks' time, you can learn a specific language. Usually, there is one lesson per day that should take you around 10 to 15 minutes to accomplish. If you want to learn quickly so that you can try out learning different languages in a short period of time, you can make it a goal to complete 3 to 4 lessons a day but don’t overwhelm yourself.


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5. Italian - Rosetta Stone

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

Another of the best language learning apps for achieving total mastery of a language is Rosetta Stone. This app has different features making it an effective tool in language learning. The Phrasebook feature is a collection of basic greetings, phrases, and expressions used by native speakers of the language. TruAccent, a speech-recognition software can help you with your pronunciation.

Do you want to connect with your fellow learners and native speakers? Rosetta Stone offers an interactive Extended Learning feature. It brings you to an online community where you can practice the language with other people.

3-month, 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month subscription options are available in Rosetta Stone. Prices of these subscriptions range from PhP 1,800 up to PhP 7,200.


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6. Japanese - Memrise

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

For those who love casual learning, Memrise is the ideal language app to use when learning foreign languages. There are two factors that make this app enjoyable to use: memes and gamification. Remember words and phrases easily by associating them with memes. You can even share your own memes for the benefit of your fellow students.

The app's effectiveness in teaching language lies in its spaced repetition and mnemonics. There are short clips of native speakers you can listen to to help you pick up the proper pronunciation, modulation, and tone of words and phrases. The correct pronunciation of words will earn you points which will help you level up on the leaderboard with other users.

If you’re learning Japanese, Memrise will help you to familiarize yourself with the kanji and hiragana through diverse quizzes so you can also improve your reading comprehension.


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7. Korean - Drops

Available platforms: iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

If you learn better visually, Drops is the language app you should try. For just five minutes a day, you can learn something new about the foreign language you are interested in. Its design and gamification features make it fun and addictive. You’ll definitely love the associated pictures provided in each word.

This app is focused on teaching vocabulary and “alphabet” courses ideal for beginners. No grammar lessons are taught in this app making it one of the best supplementary language apps you can use in mastering a certain language.

You can also learn how to properly write Korean characters using Drop. The app will let you trace on screen how to write characters and words so that you can practice them on paper later on after the lesson.

If you’re on a budget, fear not. The free version of this app is enough for you to learn essential words.


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8. Portuguese - Elevate (Mindsnacks)

Available platforms: iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

Another fun learning app to try is Mindsnacks, which is now called Elevate. This app takes language learning games to a whole new level. Even kids will enjoy learning foreign languages using this app.

Each language has its own eight to nine games designed to help language learners learn the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation of foreign words. Short lessons are also provided that contain outlines of concepts essential to mastering the language. There is also a skills chart where you can monitor your language proficiency level and can help determine which areas to improve.


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9. Russian - LinguaLift

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

If you are a serious language learner who wants a complete language program with a tutor, LinguaLift is the best language learning app for you. Remember, take advantage of the tutor support this app offers as these tutors are there to help you learn the language and answer your questions.

This app adapts the Hybrid Innovating Language Learning (HILL) system. In this system you get a customized study plan, a free book about language learning secrets, an award-winning app, clear grammar explanations, culture lessons, listening and speaking training, and tutor support.

The free book provided is relatable with a touch of sarcasm for the enjoyment of students. If you have a busy schedule, this app has a built-in accountability system. You get automated emails from teams and you can check out how often you are studying the language on the app’s widget.

One to 12-month subscriptions cost anywhere between PhP 649.50 and PhP 999.50 per month. The longer your subscription is, the lesser you pay monthly.


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10. Chinese - Busuu

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

Busuu is a language app that aims to teach you a new language so that new connections, new life, and new career will come your way. This app teaches you how to speak a language 10 minutes per day. At first, pictures, Chinese phrases, and their English translations are shown. You can also listen to the pronunciation of the phrases in Chinese. Afterward, there’s a short quiz to help you retain the learned words. Afterward, another quiz is provided using those phrases in daily conversations.

Language lessons are divided per topic and each course comes with a separate mini “travel course” if you are interested in learning the basics about traveling abroad.

Busuu also allows you to engage with native speakers. These individuals can help correct your texts to improve your vocabulary and grammar. Studying and participating in the platform also enables you to collect “berries” which are points used to rank you based on the activity.


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BONUS: Filipino Sign Language - YouTube, FSL Buddy

Available platforms: Desktop, iOS, Android (Google Play Store)

Not all languages are spoken languages. Another handy language you can learn is Filipino Sign Language. For that, you can use YouTube or the FSL Buddy App. Aside from being able to communicate with the deaf community and learn about their stories, there are other advantages in learning sign language: it improves your spelling, boosts your brain, and you can even be a sign language translator.

There are many benefits to learning a new language. While waiting for things to get back to normal, preparing your travel skills will help you become a better traveler. For other helpful travel-related articles, don’t miss Alta Vista de Boracay’s blog which is updated regularly to help you cope with your wanderlust cravings.