By: Katie Robertson
Traveling to foreign countries that speak a different language can be stressful; worrying about simple day-to-day actions because of a language barrier is one of the biggest stressors experienced when traveling abroad. I spent hours learning a language on three of the most popular language learning apps in the app store. Why? To give you the best, most personal review of each one of them in case you need to brush up on a language or start from the basics!
I learned basic Italian on all three of the apps, and when I say basic I mean the very basis of Italian vocabulary. I know English very well, as you might be able to tell, and I have a minor grasp on German (I’m nearing the end of a German 101 course as we speak).
Duolingo is pretty straightforward at the beginning; you put in which language you want to study and what level you would like to begin at. In fact, there’s even a placement test for anyone who isn’t sure where he or she might land in the spectrum of understanding.
The first thing I noticed about this app is that it wants you to start formulating sentences on your own from the second you begin lessons. You piece together sentences as well as take English sentences and write them in Italian (or whatever language you’ve chosen to learn). This seemed to be really helpful to me. I felt like I could understand full sentences from the very first lesson.
Another good thing about this app is how extensive each lesson is. It also extends lessons depending on how well you are doing.
I like Duolingo. The fact that its lessons are extended depending on how you are doing is good, because other apps don’t care to work with you until you get it right.
This app is interesting. At the beginning it even allows you to choose different areas of interest you have in learning words for. Want to learn how to order food? There’s a section for that. Want to learn to talk about your family? There’s a section for that. Of course, if you’re actually thinking of traveling to Italy it might just be best to learn all of the vocabulary you can regardless of category.
Mondly uses more game-type vocabulary activities that involve swiping up or down to match a word with its correct translation. The lessons on this app are relatively short in comparison; for Duolingo there were close to ten exercises in each lesson, whereas this app only had about 6. Nonetheless, the approach of this app for initial learners is essentially the same. Lots of pictures are used and your progression revolves around how well you do in each lesson.
This app is helpful, but requires a subscription after a 7-day free trial. I‘m not fond of paying for apps, so this is an easy no from me. If you are willing to pay to learn, however, it could be very useful in developing basic vocabulary skills!
This app requires you to make an account when you first sign in (ew). I hate putting my email into any site or app that will send me junk mail, so I am already pretty wary.
I selected the lowest of low levels in the Italian section and it took me to a sort of homepage with tons of lessons on it. I started one of the lessons and got insanely confused. There are tons of things to click! Should I start with “Lesson Audio 1” or should I open the PDF’s available to view the Lesson Transcript?
After completing one lesson on this app, I know it isn’t for me. There are tons of links and folders and files and it’s making me dizzy just thinking about it.
Also, this app only has a 7-day trial period before it starts charging the account, so I’m going to have to pass.
In review, I found that Duolingo is definitely the best app out of all three of these for an inexpensive brushing up on common phrases and vocabulary. However, if you are willing to spend a little money, I would suggest Mondly as an additional resource for your language learning needs.
Keep in mind that I do not suggest you use any of these apps to truly learn a language; that will come with time and a strong curriculum that these apps can’t give you. That being said, I think Duolingo is a great app to help you read signs, order food, or understand what is being said around you (sort of) in whatever language you need!