Long gone are the days of notebooks, pocket dictionaries, and number 2 pencils. Today the most important tools to language learners are apps, translators, and online dictionaries that aim to make language learning easier and more enjoyable than ever.
We all recall - for many of us they are not the fondest memories - those school days spent reciting and repeating sentence after sentence. Technology has managed to improve this process and millions around the globe have flocked to try out new apps and software in the hopes of learning the basics or achieving full fluency.
So let’s have a look and see what will help you, or indeed help your students ‘parlez tres bien le francias’, or ‘perfezionare la grammatica italiana.’ Here are the best apps and software for both teachers and students to use inside and outside of the classroom.
Rote learning and endless grammar rules have caused many to despair at the prospect of learning foreign languages. Lively conversations, flowing discussions, and a more immersive experience are things that modern language teachers aim to bring to each and every lesson.
Those looking to make said lessons as lively and dynamic as the languages they teach should look no further than Mentimeter. So how exactly can language teachers benefit from Mentimeter? Well...
Here is an example of one of our language quiz templates.
If you’ve ever taken an online course then you are probably quite familiar with Quizlet. Combining flashcards with memory exercises, Quizlet is the ideal alternative for those who struggle to study using traditional textbooks and notes.
For teachers this is a much more fun and interactive way of assigning homework or assignments that require students to memorize vocabulary, verb groups, pronouns, or other grammar points.
Quizlet does a great job taking one of the, let’s be kind and say less interesting, elements of language learning and uses technology to save students teachers both time and motivation.
For so many (myself included), Duolingo is the absolute go to when it comes to learning a few new phrases or brushing up on some old vocab. Duolingo’s masterful use of gamification keeps us engaged and pushes us on to ‘complete one more lesson before bed’ or ‘revise yesterday’s lesson to stay on top of the leaderboard’.
The sample sentences provided, likewise, in lessons play into this fun but educational element. Starting out is no longer daunting, it’s a bit of fun. That’s the real beauty of Duolingo.
Duo the owl isn’t asking you to treat those Korean lessons as life and death; it’s letting you enjoy the experience. That’s why it really is a must use, especially for beginner’s and casual users.
But what about those that need some extra grammar and structure? Well then Babbel is the solution.
An especially beneficial feature is the review feature which allows students to review past lessons as a listening, speaking, writing exercise, or with the aid of flashcards. Combining all four really hammers home the basics of a language while touching on all key areas of a language.
If building a strong vocabulary is your primary concern then the ‘My vocab’ section is a gem. It’s a great way to review words and phrases from completed lessons without the need to note things down. Listen to the recordings as much as you need until you absolutely nail that pronunciation too!
Found a new word you like but not sure how to use it in a sentence? Worried that your new found phrase isn’t used by the locals? Have no fear because Reverso Context does exactly as the name implies.
Not only will it give you a translation of the word you’re looking for, it provides plenty of use cases as well as synonyms so you can pinpoint exactly what you want and need to say!
Currently supporting 15 languages, Reverso Context perfectly complements reading exercises by providing us with the in-depth context that we also wish we got from our pocket dictionaries.
Too lazy to come up with that sentence for your homework? Decided just to use a quick Google Translate? Deepl has taken the Google model and drastically improved its accuracy.
Supporting 26 languages, alongside the ability to translate a variety of file types, Deepl won’t just offer you one solution to that sentence of yours, but will also provide a series of alternatives and dictionary definitions for each word you have typed.
For something really cool, the pro feature will provide users with formal or informal speech. So no more faux-pas when sending an important email!
I’m sure you may be wondering; ‘How can I replicate the experience of speaking to a native speaker with an app’… well iTalki solves that problem. Thousands of professional teachers and enthusiastic community tutors are on hand no matter what level you are at.
Prices and lesson structure vary depending on the language and tutor you chose, but every profile comes with an accompanying video, introduction, and lesson type that will help pair you with your perfect partner.
Users can take part in intensive grammar class, or something more conversational and relaxed. iTalki will have you conversing in no time at all.
A personal favourite of mine is Google Lens’ translation function. All you need to do is point your camera at whatever needs translating and then to select the desired language. Google will do the rest.
This is by far the easiest way to understand those confusing messages on display in that train station, the menu in the lovely quaint restaurant, or that webpage that has no translations - yes you can upload screenshots to Google Lens!
There are few better feelings than the sense of accomplishment we get when converse with someone in a new language. Technology in the form of apps and software is becoming an ever more important part of education and the EdTech world is a thriving industry.
So from basic introductions to complex conversations, try out these apps and see just how much they can help you or your students!