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Have Fun With Languages With These Top Language Learning Tools

Jan 2019

Language ,

Is your resolution for 2019 to have fun with languages?

It can be hard to stick to improving your linguistic skills when you’re busy with work, school, clubs, and making time to see family and friends. The commitment of signing up for language tuition classes might seem overwhelming.

But don’t give up on your resolution just yet, it’s only January and we believe in you!

There are so many useful language learning tools out there that can be used on demand. Whether you’re commuting to work, lying awake in bed at night, or having an afternoon cup of tea, there are no excuses not to practice your vocab!


have fun with languages


Duolingo Review

Duolingo was launched in 2011 in the USA and has 300 million users worldwide. It can be run on both mobile and desktop. Users are guided through their lessons by ‘Duo’, a cute lime green bird.


How much does it cost?

Duolingo is a ‘freemium’ service, making its money from advertisements rather than subscriptions. There are no sneaky, in-app purchases.


How many languages are on offer?

There are around 37 languages on offer, including Korean, Chinese, French, Danish, and Indonesian.



Once you’ve set up a profile, chosen a language, and decided on weekly goals, you can get stuck into your lessons.

Each language course has individual modules which revolve around various skills, like food and animals.

Lessons are taught in the form of quiz games, such as matching pairs and dragging and dropping from a selection of words to translate sentences.

There are also exercises where you type what you hear, and speaking exercises where you say what you hear (maybe save this one for the privacy of your own home rather than your morning train!).


The Positives

  1. It identifies what your weakest words are so you can work harder on them.
  2. Your daily progress is tracked, letting you know what your streak is, helping to keep you motivated.
  3. You can set different goal levels, from casual, to regular, to insane.


The Negatives

  1. Some of the vocab you learn is peculiar and not useful for real life.
  2. Your speaking lessons involve repetition rather than learning how to form a conversation independently.


duolingo review


Babbel Review

Babbel was set up in 2007 in Berlin. You may have seen it advertised recently on the telly with their friendly purple alien creature, struggling to communicate to others.


How much does it cost?

Babbel offer a free trial but only for one lesson – so pick wisely!

After that, the subscription for a single month is £9.99 but if you tie yourself into a longer contract, the cost decreases. A 6-month deal would cost £5.50 a month.


How many languages are on offer?

There are 14 languages on the platform, including Russian, Swedish, French, and Turkish.



Babbel is similar to Duolingo in that it offers quiz game-style learning.

The lessons take on average 15 minutes so it’s perfect to squeeze into your hectic schedule.

If you prefer, you can learn a language from a business perspective – for example, you can learn “Marketing English”.


The Positives

  1. It’s particularly good for beginners. The lessons are quite basic and easy to get a handle on.
  2. It’s best for popular languages like French – a lot of content has been produced for these.


The Negatives

  1. The lessons per language vary significantly. For example, the Danish course has half the number of lessons as the French one at beginner level. At intermediate level, there are no Danish lessons, whilst the French intermediate level has double the number of French beginner lessons.



babbel review


HelloTalk Review

HelloTalk are based in Hong Kong. They already have 10 million members.


How much does it cost?

It’s free to use but there are some in-app paid features which are optional.


How many languages are on offer?

There are hundreds of languages to get your teeth sunk into but not in the form of formal lessons like Duolingo and Babbel.



HelloTalk differs from the other apps in that it functions as a messaging app, rather than an individual learning platform.

You fill in a profile, register your native language and your target language, and you connect with native speakers in your target language, or people wanting to learn your native language.

You have an informal discussion with a real person from a foreign country. You can decide what to talk about.


The Positives

  1. You and your chat partner might be looking to brush up on different languages so there’s a feature which can be used to remind you to switch the language you are chatting in.
  2. For spelling mistakes your partner makes, you can edit their comments and it updates in real time, showing them where they went wrong, and vice-versa.


The Negatives

  1. Since there are no lessons, it can be hard to make sure you’re learning enough. To get the most out of the app, you should have a good proficiency in the language already and make sure your partner knows you’re serious about learning, not just on for a random chat.

hellotalk review

Memrise Review

Memrise is a user-generated platform that has been on the go since 2010. In 2017 it was awarded the best app in the Google Play Awards.


How much does it cost?

Memrise is free but there is a premium package


How many languages are on offer?

There are 25 languages on offer, including some interesting ones like Mongolian that aren’t featured on other platforms!



The app uses lots of different ways to help you learn and test your knowledge. It uses flashcards heavily to act as memory aids.

The format of the learning changes to keep your brain engaged, switching between simple Q&A and multiple choice.

It relies on what is called ‘elaborate encoding’, which is a memory mechanism which helps you to code the information you’re learning through associations, rather than rote-learning words and their translations.


The Positives

  1. You can help others by submitting your own memory aids and mnemonics.
  2. You collect points and go up the ranks as you progress, incentivising you to keep at it.


The Negatives

  1. It can be quite hard to follow what lessons to do because thousands are added to the platform every day.
  2. Courses are user-made so their quality may vary.
  3. It’s best used in conjunction with other resources rather than in isolation.


memrise review


Go Have Fun With Languages!

These are some of the top language learning tools on the modern market. They all have their advantages and drawbacks, but they all have the plus point of being highly accessible and perfect for using on-the-go.

If you do find you need extra support and have some extra time on your hands, Global Language Services offer language tuition which is perfect for one-on-one students and small groups.

They are particularly of value for those thinking about coming to study in the UK or if you anticipate liaising with foreign business clients on a regular basis. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

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