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Our top pick for the best Duolingo alternative courses is Babbel, their monthly membership is $13.95 a month, but will decrease if you sign up and pay for several months in advance, a yearly membership is $83.40 which will give you unlimited access to the language app and website.
They do offer a 7-day free trial to try it out. The app uses realistic and useful dialogue that will help you progress through your time of using it.
One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.
Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning apps available right now, boasting over 300 million users, however, despite offering 38 languages, Duolingo is not without its faults, it uses language that is not used in reality and also has limited access to topics until you’ve completed previous topics.
Duolingo is, however, free of charge, hence its mass appeal, you can also pay a subscription to rid yourself of the annoying ads on the app.
Luckily for us, Duolingo is not the only language learning app currently out there and there are so many alternatives that offer a variety of teaching methods to help you engage in the language and accelerate your rate of learning.
Today we’ll be showing you the 5 best Duolingo alternatives out there right now, some of which may suit your approach to learning better than Duolingo.
There’ll also be a focussed informational guide after the reviews to help you choose the right course for you and also a frequently asked questions section.
Babbel is our top choice for a Duolingo alternative and contrary to belief, was around before Duolingo even existed.
Babbel offers 14 languages (of which are mostly European) and is suitable for beginners and more intermediate language learners.
You can access your learning via the Babbel app or website which is so handy as you’ll be able to learn wherever and whenever you want as the apps sync up and remember your progress.
One of the best things about Babbel is its ability to tailor the user interface based on how the user of the app learns best.
For example, if you’re someone who learns best by reading, Babbel will tailor your learning to mostly that, or on the other hand if you’re someone who learns best through conversational speaking of the language the app will focus more on that in your learning.
It is such a sophisticated way to allow all kinds of learners to engage and become conversational in the language in their own way.
Babbel focuses on improving the conversational language level of the user and provides useful and realistic dialogue that you would use whilst conversing in the country.
You’re taught in 10-15 minute lessons which allows you to learn even if you’re on the go during your day.
There are also extra lessons that focus on fun aspects of the language, such as teaching you about the significance of certain phrases and words during the process.
Babbel even offers podcasts that speak both English and your chosen language to help guide you to understand what they’re saying.
You will get a 7-day free trial when you sign up to Babbel, which is standard amongst language learning apps. It gives you a decent amount of time to gauge your thoughts on the app and see if it’s well suited to your needs.
After that, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee to have full access to Babbel’s language courses.
If you want to have a monthly rolling subscription, it’ll set you back $13.95 a month, however, if you commit to a 3,6, or 12-month subscription it reduces the cost significantly.
A 12-month subscription will cost you $6.95, so if you’re serious about learning then committing to the longer subscription is worth it.
Babbel also offers you a downloaded certificate once you’ve completed a course, albeit, it’s only downloaded from the desktop version and not the app.
I think these are considered more of a commemoration of your hard work rather than a formally recognizable certificate for future opportunities like travel of work.
Busuu is a free app available for both iOS and Android. To access the full range of features such as the personalized study plan, certificates, and feedback from native speakers you’ll need to purchase a premium subscription.
These premium subscriptions are available on a monthly, 12-month, or 24-month plan. The monthly rolling subscription will cost you $13.30, if you commit to a 12-month plan it’ll cost you just over $8 a month but comes out annually.
If you’re serious about learning a language, you’ll need to upgrade to Premium as the free version will only learn one language via practicing vocabulary with flashcards.
When you first join the app, they’ll suggest you do a placement test which will help guide you to a starting point in the app for your studies based on any prior knowledge you already have of the language.
This is great for those who are seeking to expand their knowledge on a language that they learned during their time in school.
Busuu covers the generic reading, writing, listening, vocabulary, and speaking tasks that are often seen in language learning apps.
Each task has a time estimate of how long it should take you to complete so if you can pick the app up as and when you want.
One major factor as to why I love Busuu is the ability to have live conversations with native speakers by booking a 30-minute time slot to speak with them. For those who learn best by conversing in a language, this is such a beneficial feature.
You can also receive peer reviews of your work from native and fluent speakers for written and verbal exercises, which is great as it won’t just be the computer who’s marking your work.
However, this can sometimes be hindering the progress of the user as the native speakers want to avoid being too harsh and may sometimes mark too highly.
The feedback for written assignments is much more beneficial as they offer feedback on your grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.
You can also give feedback on your feedback given to you by the native speakers, so if they’re being too broad with their corrections then you can tell them you’d like more specific feedback. This feature is limited to the Premium members.
Whilst the native speakers are fluent in their language, their feedback may not be the same as it would from a professional language teacher.
Native speakers can often be prone to using slang language in their dialect and do not always have the correct skillset to express language concepts to a non-native speaker.
The Premium version is not worth it if you’re just focused on achieving the McGraw Hill certificate, whilst it marks your achievement, it is not an accredited certificate and won’t hold up formally for scholarly or professional opportunities but simply gives recognition to your dedication to learn a language.
Lingvist is an app that is available for both iOS and Android users and can also be used on the desktop. Notably, the user interface of the desktop is better as the app can be prone to crashing whilst you’re learning.
Lingvist Unlimited is their paid subscription service that allows you access to all their features.
The paid version gives the user access to a wider range of vocabulary, access to 1-to-1 support, unlimited daily challenges, and also unlimited access to learning as many words as you want in a day.
Lingvist is a bit more expensive than the premium subscriptions from language learning apps.
A monthly rolling subscription will cost you $19.99 a month, an annual subscription will set you back $79.99 or if the free trial to the app blows you away, you can commit to a lifetime subscription by paying a one-off fee of $179.99.
There is no free version anymore, but every new learner can use their free trial to see how they like the app.
Unlike Duolingo, Lingvist uses vocabulary that you’ll use in day to day conversations of the language, which is incredibly useful if you intend to travel or even live in the native country.
Content is presented in the form of flashcards, which is very visually appealing and easy enough on the eye that you can remember properly.
These flashcards also have audio attached to them so you can hear the written words’ pronunciation. The app also gives you grammar tips and feedback which is based upon your level.
You’ll also have challenges to complete daily which focus on your more preferred interests and needs, so you can learn about the stuff you want.
Lingvist keeps tabs on your progress and monitors how long your daily sessions are. This helps present to you some realistic daily goals and also be able to know what content to focus on during your next sessions.
This means you won’t keep covering basic groundwork that you’ve already mastered as you progress through the course.
One of the major downsides of the Lingvist app is that there are only 5 languages for native English speakers to learn, including French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
This comes up extremely short in comparison to other apps like Duolingo. However, if any of us these 5 languages are ones you’ll want to learn then I’m sure this app will serve you well.
Lingvist does not faff around with the design and primarily focuses on languages and learning.
So if you’re not fussed on bright colorful designs and want a more simplistic visual display to learn from, then Lingvist will be an option for your consideration.
LingoDeer is probably the most similar to Duolingo but has focussed their app on people who want to learn Asian languages such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and even Mandarin.
They do now offer romantic and Germanic languages such as French, Russian and German, which takes their total of languages to 11.
The LingoDeer app used to be 100% free, however, since the app has developed massively since it first launched, it has introduced a subscription payment plan which will give you full access to all features across the app.
A monthly subscription will cost you $11.99 whilst an annual subscription is usually $79.99, they also offer a one-time purchase offer which will give you lifetime access to use the app. You can however access many lessons for free.
If you like things to be visually pleasing, then LingoDeer will be a good match for you. The app offers a customizable user interface, allowing you to change the size of texts and change colors.
LingoDeer focuses majorly on speaking exercises, which is good if you’re doing the Mandarin course as the AI will give you feedback on your pronunciation, something that is very important to that language.
However, this feature is limited to Mandarin and does not stretch across the other language courses.
The app features a target training area where you can practice questions and words that you’ve got wrong in previous sessions, this makes sure that you’re making progress without compromising on certain topics.
Like Duolingo, LingoDeer has the flashcard functionality built into the app to help you learn grammar, phrases.
If you’re a true academic, then the app will fill you with joy as it features knowledge cards that allow you to review grammatical concepts to boost your knowledge of your chosen language.
If you are focused on learning Asian languages then LingoDeer is one leading contender, even compared to DuoLingo.
The initial aim of the app was to provide extensive resources for those learning Asian languages, so now they’ve branched out to create more resources for other languages, it’ll be interesting to see how the quality of content changes.
Last on our list is the app Memrise, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Memrise offers courses for up to 22 languages including Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, and English.
Memrise is free of charge for its users, which gives access to all the languages, which is the biggest attraction to users.
They do offer a Memrise Pro subscription plan where you can pay $8.99 a month or an annual subscription for $7.50 a month which gives you full access to features such as the difficult words review, chatbots, learning with locals, and audio review mode.
Whilst the premium features are a nice addition, they are not exactly necessary or truly beneficial to your learning as the app is still essentially a flashcard app.
Memrise focuses heavily on learning vocabulary, which is great if that is your primary focus for the app, but for those who are seeking other learning opportunities like phrases, grammar, speaking, etc it can be a major downside.
Memrise emphasizes that there ‘no grammar rules’ moto will actually help users progress with their learning, however, this is left to be debated by learners.
The app uses spaced repetition for optimal learning, this means that you’ll review your new vocab a few moments after seeing it firstly by waiting a day, then every other day, and then after a few weeks, this is a highly regarded learning technique that helps people retain information.
The format of flashcards and vocab can become boring if you’d like to advance your level of learning, for true beginners it is ideal and will be more than adequate for learning basic phrases and vocab.
The quality of content can vary throughout the app, as some of it is contributed by the Memrise staff, whereas other areas are contributed by users.
There is no quality check on these user contributions and words can be mispronounced or the audio quality can be so bad that you can’t understand the word.
There are some programs that are brilliant but others contain mistakes and are not beneficial for a non-native speaker.
If you’ve already got a preferred language in mind that you’d like to learn, then obviously finding an app that offers that language is your priority.
Some apps will offer numerous different languages whereas some apps offer a small handful. If you’d like to simultaneously learn two or more languages, then make sure there’s an app that offers your preferences.
Everyone learns differently and at different rates, if you can use a free trial from the app to see how the user interface works and also the way they provide the teaching content, you’ll get a grasp of how you’ll be learning.
There will be certain apps that are tailored to more casual users, who just want to find generic conversational vocabulary.
However, there are also more difficult apps that are goal-based that will use their algorithm to make sure you progress through the levels and topics.
If you’re someone who learns by speaking and listening, then an app that provides audio or video for the language will be needed. If you’re someone who’s a visual learner, then an app that has a built-in flashcard function would be beneficial.
All language learning apps vary in the content they provide, some focus on speaking whereas some primarily focus on vocab and grammar.
Some people will have a few language learning apps on their devices so they can reap the content benefits from all of them instead of being limited to just one.
Most decent language learning apps will require you to pay a subscription fee to access the beneficial features. Some apps are completely free, but these tend to be the ones that are very limited in the content they offer.
However, Duolingo is the outlier here as it is free (apart from paying to get rid of the ads) and allows you to access all their features.
If you’re serious about learning a language then maybe paying the premium of an app will help you progress quickly. If you’ll only use the app when you’re bored or when you remember to, there’s no point wasting your money.
Easy is subjective to the learner. However, Norweigan, Swedish and Spanish are deemed the 3 easiest languages for an English speaking person to learn.
Mandarin is the most difficult language for an English native speaker to learn, which is a bitter pill to swallow as it is the most widely spoken language in the world.
Researchers state that it takes up to 500 hours for someone to achieve basic fluency in just one language but this average will be subject to the language chosen.
If you use a language learning app for 30 minutes a day you should reach a basic level of fluency within 6-8 months.
If you want to achieve an advanced level of fluency, it can take up to 1000 hours of learning and even more for more difficult languages.
It would be hard to achieve such a high level to be considered a near-native speaker from using just an app.
Immersion in the country of origin, where you’d consistently speak the language throughout the day is what guides people to become fluent. This is why college courses offer a year abroad option for their language degrees.
Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.
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