Tech & Innovation

Do Language Learning Apps Really Work?

Do Language Learning Apps Really Work?

Language apps are a quite popular way to learn a new language. They are also an excellent option for people who want to learn a foreign language and speak it at work – one lesson in such an app takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

But, How Effective Are Language Learning Apps?

The research from Michigan State University involved 85 undergraduate students who had to use a language app for 12 weeks. After they were done with the experiment, all students have reported improvements in language proficiency.

The main outtake of this study was that language learning with an app requires consistency. And, the more time you spend learning the language, the faster your knowledge will improve. 

The question is, how to choose the right language app for you?

Indeed, with so many options, most of which are usually paid, how do you know which app will suit your needs, especially if you don’t have much time but really need to learn a language to communicate at work?

Here Are Some Valuable Tips on Selecting the Right Language Learning App:

1. Choose a Language App That Creates an Immersive Environment

If you are learning a language to speak at your office, your workplace will create the right cultural environment for you to immerse in and master the language faster. But if you are, like many others, stuck at home, then you need to create such an environment by yourself. 

A language learning app is the component of such an environment. It should have all the features that allow you to immerse yourself in the foreign culture during a lesson. Such features can include:

  • texts narrated by a native speaker
  • videos and audios with real-life dialogs
  • texts describing cultural phenomena

Learning a foreign language means learning their culture as well. So, when choosing an app, look for these features for a complete cultural immersion experience. 

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2. Language Learning Apps Should Test Your Proficiency Level

Before you start lessons with an app, you need to have your curriculum tailored for your language learning needs. It makes sense, especially if you already know the language on some level and don’t need to start from scratch. 

That’s why it’s important to test your language mastery level. For instance, English has the following levels of proficiency:

  • Beginner/A1
  • Pre-Intermediate/A2
  • Intermediate/B1
  • Upper-Intermediate/B2
  • Advanced/C1
  • Mastery/C2

The same levels apply to French, German, and many other European languages, according to CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). 

When choosing a language learning app, make sure you pick the one that requires you to take a language proficiency test before assigning you a course. This way, you’ll start learning the grammar and vocabulary you actually need for daily communication at work. 

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3. You Should Be Able to Adjust the Vocabulary to Your Professional Needs

Since you’re learning the language for work, you might need a specific vocabulary to describe your daily work activities. 

Unfortunately, most apps only give access to specific vocabulary units only after you pass a significant number of lessons. Besides, these units are usually quite limited and only have basic words you’d use every day in specific situations. 

What you are looking for is an app that has a clear vocabulary categorization according to different professional activities, such as:

  • medical
  • banking
  • business
  • engineering
  • PR ad journalism

These are just a few examples of vocabulary units a language app might have. The vocabulary in these units should vary depending on your proficiency level.

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4. All Lessons Should Be Balanced

Speaking a foreign language at work and in any other situation requires a multifaceted approach. It’s hard to learn to speak correctly without listening, reading, and writing. 

A lesson in a language app should ideally consist of the following activities:

  • start with a quick listening or reading
  • follow-up with exercises to check the listening or reading comprehension
  • grammar tasks to improve writing and learn how to form proper sentences
  • end with short writing tasks on a specific topic

Some apps, like Rosetta Stone and Babbel, can also give you speaking exercises to check your pronunciation. It’s a good feature since most apps don’t teach proper pronunciation at all. 

So, look for apps that have balanced lessons with all the activities involved. After all, mastering a foreign language doesn’t mean speaking fluently but also being able to listen, read, and write. 

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5. Language App Website Should Have a Forum

One more important feature of a good language learning app is a forum. It is the ideal place for you to ask questions and interact with other learners. 

On such forums, people share their language learning tips, ask questions regarding grammar or vocabulary, and help each other learn more effectively. You can also find native speakers for a language exchange, where you and another person teach each other your native languages. 

If your goal is to learn a foreign language to speak it at work, but you’re currently stuck at home and cannot visit your office, a forum can become an excellent place for you to immerse yourself in a language learning environment. 

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Choosing a Language Learning App for Work: Conclusion

Of course, an app cannot substitute a comprehensive lesson with a teacher. After all, during a lesson on an app, you cannot ask questions if you don’t understand something. Even if an app has a forum, there’s still a chance you won’t get qualified help if you need it. 

Nevertheless, an app can be a great supplementary tool to learn a foreign language. And, it’s ideal for those who don’t have much time for lessons with a tutor but need a foreign language to communicate at work. 

Consider looking for the following features when choosing a language learning app:

  • tasks that create an immersive environment
  • tests to determine the proficiency level
  • access to units with professional vocabulary
  • balanced lessons with listening, writing, reading, and speaking tasks
  • a forum to interact with other learners

Hopefully, our tips will help you pick the best app that suits your language learning needs. 

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