I’ve been getting the books out lately (or apps rather) in a bid to improve my Spanish before my trip to Argentina in September. As someone who has always struggled with learning foreign languages I must say this new way of online learning has seen me progress much faster than I have in my previous attempts to conquer the language! I know a lot of people have been getting in touch with me since I mentioned I was learning and have been asking for app recommendations. I’ve included below some of the apps I’ve been trying and that I found useful. There is a mix of free and paid-for apps.
Busuu.com (Free & paid for options available)
Busuu is the app I’ve been using the most to learn Spanish and the reason is that it allows you to learn and test your speaking, listening, reading, AND writing. Not many apps alone will allow you learn and test all four. Many apps simply provide you with vocabulary and an audio clip – which is absolutely fine in the beginning as learning the vocabulary is important, but with busuu it is more in-depth and can take you that little bit further. The app has some stages of the courses available for free. This allows you to try it out properly before you decide to make any purchases. To pay for a whole course level it cost me around £3. When you consider what it costs for some other language learning courses of the same nature and depth – that is very cheap! I think what really makes busuu great however is the social integration of it. In the writing part your Spanish is corrected by other native Spanish speakers who use the network. In turn they ask you to correct the occasional bit of English writing for other people (Spanish is not the only language you can learn on the app.) There is a big community aspect of busuu that allows you to connect with native Spanish speakers and converse with them as you get further into the premium version of the course. It’s definitely my most used Spanish learning app so far!
Learn Spanish by Mawuood Academy (Free)
This app is simply called “Learn Spanish”. If you can’t find it on Android it’s produced by the Mawuood Academy. It’s a very simple and straight forward app, very easy to use, and is great for complete beginnings. It basically provides you with categories such as ‘family’, ‘food’, ‘jobs’ etc and provides you with the vocabulary and an accompanying audio clip for each word. It allows you to build your basic vocabulary fast and also hear how it is pronounced by a native speaking voice. This immediately makes it better than trying to learn the vocabulary on your own from a book because unless you hear it from a native voice first you’ll often pronounce it wrong. This was the first app I started using to learn Spanish and although it is not as in-depth as Busuu (mentioned above), it is a great starting point especially because it is free. It’s also a great example of how simple apps can immediately make better learning tools than books alone in the modern-age.
Babbel (Free and paid for options available)
Babbel is another good language learning app. The first level of every course is free for you to use. To access the full course you need to pay a subscription fee. The longer you subscribe for the cheaper the monthly fee becomes. Although I personally prefer to just pay outright for an app, course, or level, this provides an another type of option for those people who want to learn Spanish as a foreign language. The course is much more in depth than the apps which are completely free such as the Learn Spanish app by Mawuood Academy. It’s up to you really whether you prefer a subscription based learning app (who knows – it may make you keep learning if you know you’ve signed up for x amount of months?) Or you may be like me and prefer the pay-out-right option where you pay for an app or a level etc and then you have access to that for as long as you want, not for as long as you pay the subscription.
As someone who has always struggled with learning foreign languages I’ve found using apps the most successful way of improving my basic Spanish. The on-the-go aspect of the apps really helps me as I’m often very busy or out on the road somewhere. I also happen to be a bit of an insomniac and one thing I’ve found that keeps my brain occupied and tires me out is sitting in bed with my tablet computer trying to teach myself more Spanish vocabulary! Even the most basic of apps allow you to learn Spanish better than books will because they come with an audio clip to accompany the word. The idea that you can integrate with Skype and video calling to speak with native Spanish speakers whilst you’re at home also opens up exiting learning opportunities for the future for those unable to necessarily jump ship and go live in another country for a while. I can’t wait to see how language learning in general moves on through technology in the years to come because it is an important part of everyone’s education, or at least it certainly should be in my opinion. I just wish I had been this interested in learning a foreign language when I was a teenager!
– If you found this article useful you may also be interested in reading the dos and don’ts of learning Spanish in Spain.