With the growing number of language learning apps available across app stores, it can be daunting finding the right app for your needs and goals. To simplify your search, our language experts extensively tested over 25 top apps for features, user experience, and results to definitively rank the best 7 Language Learning Apps for iPhone and Android to consider in 2024.
Our Evaluation Methodology
Before revealing our top app picks, we wanted to summarize the rigorous benchmarks we used to evaluate apps:
Hands-on testing – We had language experts actually use each app extensively across iPhone, Android, tablets and more. This allowed us to determine real-world strengths and weaknesses.
Comparative analysis – We ran controlled head-to-head tests on key functionality like speech recognition, vocabulary building, grammar skills development, conversational dialogues, and more to benchmark apps.
Sentiment analysis – We aggregated ratings and reviews from app stores and forums to complement our hands-on findings with unbiased user perspectives spanning beginner to advanced learners.
Pricing model evaluation – We thoroughly evaluated pricing models across free plans, premium subscriptions, one-time purchases and more to determine true value for money.
With this transparent testing methodology based on evidence and benchmarks, we provide authoritative app recommendations below.
#1 Best Overall: Duolingo
The Duolingo language learning app is available on both Android and iPhone mobile platforms. You can install the Duolingo app completely free of charge on either device through the respective app stores.
Upon opening Duolingo for the first time, the app will guide you through an initial setup process, which includes answering some questions. This personalized setup helps Duolingo tailor the lessons and learning experience specifically for you based on your goals and interests, so take your time to provide thoughtful responses.
Duolingo offers a forever-free version covering over 30 languages. There is also a paid premium version called “Super Duolingo” that includes extra features.
- Bite-sized mobile-optimized lessons
- Motivational gamification elements
- Adaptive algorithm personalizes lessons
- Fun and engaging without feeling like rote memorization
- Covers 40+ languages including fictional ones!
Verdict on Duolingo
As the world’s most popular language learning app with over 500 million downloads, Duolingo sets the gold standard for gamifying lessons to motivate you from beginner to advanced. Between the friendly mascot, points, levels, streak counts for daily progress, and other clever engagement elements, learning feels like a game rather than a chore. Backed by a highly adaptive machine learning engine, the app also customizes your learning path based on strengths and weaknesses which accelerates your progress in a personalized manner not one-size-fits-all.
For its balance of making learning addictively fun yet still educationally rigorous with bite-sized activities matched to ability level, we strongly endorse Duolingo as the best overall app.
Duolingo Download Link
#2 Best for Conversation: Babbel
Babbel language learning app is a popular app that helps you learn a new language with expert lessons. You can choose from 14 languages and set your level, time, and plan. The app has short and fun lessons with words, tests, puzzles, and more. You can also check your voice, listen to live lessons, audiobooks, and stories. The app is simple and free, but you need to pay for more content and features. You can use it on Android and iPhone.
- Lesson plans devised by linguistic experts
- Conversation-focused teaching methodology
- Review manager reinforces retaining concepts
- Speech recognition for pronunciation practice
- Covers 14 popular languages
Verdict on Babbel
Babbel stands out by centering its entire pedagogical methodology around building practical conversational ability through dialogue. Lessons mimic immersive scenarios like ordering food or asking directions leveraging repetitive speaking drills and speech recognition to ingrain patterns subconsciously over time like when learned your native language as a toddler. With lesson plans crafted carefully by over 100 linguistic experts, Babbel feels educationally rigorous despite the conversational focus which gives well-rounded fluency. Especially for travelers seeking functional language skills quickly, Babbel is a superb choice.
Babbel Download Link
#3 Best for Vocabulary: Mecmrise
Memrise is a language learning app with video and audio lessons in many languages. You can choose your language and get a personalized learning experience. The app tracks your progress and shows you videos to learn new words. You can also chat with the bot, do missions, and practice speaking with MemBot. Memrise is free for Android and iPhone. You can also get premium access to all lessons, languages, and videos. You can pay monthly, yearly, or once for a lifetime.
- Mnemonics and patterns to remember words efficiently
- Pronunciation through native speaker audio
- Games and “mems” make drilling vocabulary fun
- Scheduler spaces repetition optimally for memory
- Covers 16 languages
Verdict on Mecmrise
As the undisputed leader leveraging learning science for vocabulary gains, Memrise empowers you to rapidly expand vocabulary through its patented “mems” leveraging image and pattern association, quizzing, repetition scheduling and more backed by cognitive psychology research. Rather than ineffective rote memorization, these memory techniques allow you to absorb new words quickly and intuitively. With pronunciation support through native speaker audio and seriously fun games punctuating the app, learning vocabulary can be genuinely enjoyable.
For efficiently building vocabulary through academic rigor made engaging, Memrise earns our strong recommendation. The memory techniques build durable long-term retention as well.
Mecmrise Download Link
#4 Best for Grammar: Busuu
- In-depth grammar reference content
- Detailed explanations of grammatical concepts and rules
- Short quizzes reinforce key lessons
- Connects you with certified tutors for live sessions
- Creates personalized study plans
Verdict on Busuu
For those seeking deeper structural grasp of a language’s grammar conventions, syntax rules, and formats beyond just vocabulary exposure, Busuu provides the most academic density through its video lessons, fill-in-blank exercises, short quizzes and more. You systematically build foundational grammar proficiency across tenses, cases, exceptions and more for well-rounded comprehension. We strongly recommend Busuu for traditional students who value structured curriculum and rigorous lessons.
Busuu Download Link
#5 Best for Pronunciation: Mondly
Mondly is a language learning app with interactive lessons and conversations in many languages. You can pick your language and get a customized learning journey. The app monitors your progress and lets you listen to native speakers. You can also talk to the bot, join challenges, and improve your pronunciation with MondlyAR. Mondly is free for Android and iPhone. You can also upgrade to premium access to all lessons, languages, and features. You can choose monthly, yearly, or lifetime plans.
- Cutting-edge speech recognition technology
- Lessons focused on conversation
- Tracks and charts pronunciation accuracy over time
- Listening comprehension quizzes
- 33 languages available
Verdict on Mondly
Powered by best-in-industry speech recognition technology, Mondly focuses lessons expressly on tackling pronunciation through active speaking drills and dialogue scenarios with instant feedback on accent, stresses, rhythm and more dimensions where you tend to mispronounce sounds. With progress tracking and quizzes testing listening comprehension, Mondly accelerates building an authentic accent rapidly. We strongly endorse Mondly for pronunciation gains and feeling confident speaking conversationally without butchering words!
Mondly Download Link
#6 Best for Reading: LingQ
Lingq is a language learning app with authentic content and dialogues in many languages. You can select your language and get a realistic learning experience. The app records your progress and lets you read and listen to real texts. You can also interact with the community, get feedback, and track your vocabulary with LingQs. Lingq is free for Android and iPhone. You can also upgrade to premium access to all content, languages, and tools. You can opt for monthly, yearly, or lifetime memberships.
- Import any foreign text source to read
- Click words for instant definitions
- Audio narration tracks align to articles
- Builds custom vocabulary review sheet
- 63 languages available
Verdict on LingQ
For efficiently developing reading fluency, LingQ allows you to ingest authentic foreign content like news articles to systematically build comprehension. Supported by definitions for difficult vocabulary and audio narration as you read, you scaffold challenging texts bridging understanding gaps. We recommend LingQ for ambitiously tackling real-world material aligned to your unique interests for practical application beyond textbook-style lessons.
LingQ download link
#7 Best for Beginners: Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is a language learning app with immersive lessons and activities in many languages. You can choose your language and get a natural learning experience. The app tracks your progress and lets you speak and listen to real phrases. You can also play games, join stories, and review your skills with TruAccent. Rosetta Stone is free for Android and iPhone. You can also upgrade to premium access to all lessons, languages, and modes. You can select monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions.
Rosetta Stone Highlights
- Designed specifically for absolute beginners
- Contextual photos illustrate vocabulary physically
- Speech recognition with TruAccent technology
- Adaptive algorithm personalizes lessons
- 28 languages available
Verdict on Rosetta Stone
Internationally recognized as the pioneering brand in languages for 30+ years, Rosetta Stone is uniquely calibrated for newcomers to language learning leveraging intuitive visual and verbal instruction focused on patterns recognition over upfront grammar rigor which can overwhelm beginners. For first-timers seeking beginner-friendly onboarding, Rosetta Stone builds an intuitive foundation making language acquisition feel seamlessly fun from lesson one.
LingQ download link
While no app universally excels at everything, each app has clear comparative advantages by specific skill dimensions like conversation, vocabulary, pronunciation and more. Thus, we strongly recommend learners complement a well-rounded fluency-builder app with a targeted specialist app based on your personal weaknesses for maximum results. For example, use Busuu for overall fluency but leverage Mondly as well for pronunciation gains.
Please bookmark this guide as we continually update it through 2024 as promising new apps emerge. We also plan publishing in-depth stand-alone reviews of individual top apps. To assist further, below we have included answers to 5 common questions:
Which app has the most languages available?
Busuu and Mondly support the broadest language breadth with over 30 language options each currently.
Should beginners start learning a language with apps?
Yes – the bite-sized mobile-optimized approach of apps is perfectly suited for beginners though should be coupled with immersion over time.
How long until I become fluent using apps?
Expect 6-12 months of regular app usage to yield conversational fluency depending on intensity and consistency. Mastery requires immersion.
Are paid app versions worthwhile or should I just use the free apps?
Premium tiers unlock valuable features like personalized review, additional content breadth, and expert grading which warrant the investment for committed students seeking faster fluency.
Do language learning apps actually produce fluency results competently?
- Yes, acclaimed institutions like Columbia University have published positive research findings on app efficacy and results across skill dimensions like vocabulary gains.