Apps designed for language learning

Apps can either be explicitly designed for language learning, or can be used to support or foster language learning.  In the following list, you will find apps explicitly designed for language learning or language learners. As you see, vocabulary apps dominate the market.  A learner would probably want to use several different apps, one from each color category below, in order to make progress across various language skills.  Below the table, MALL class participants have evaluated most of these apps for what they do, how much they cost, what platforms they are available for, and suggestions for using them.

Vocab Interaction Processing Four-skills Grammar Pronunciation
Anki Fluentlee Beelinguapp Babbel Conjuverb EAC Echo
Awabe HiNative BliuBliu Busuu Duolingo  Elsa
Byki HelloTalk FluentU ChineseSkill LingQ  Sounds of Speech
Drops Speaky Innovative Language
Keewords Tandem ReadLang in 24 hours
Lerni Verbling Voxy Lingro
LinguaHut Lingvist
Magoosh Mango
Memrise Mondly
Nemo RosettaStone
Study Stack


What it does: A “flash card” development program, which allows you to work through flash card sets using spaced repetition.

How much it costs: It is free and available for all platforms and all devices, as it uses open-source software.  What language skills it covers: Vocabulary acquisition

Reviews/suggestions:  Teachers could easily develop a set and send them to all students, but they are subject to all the normal caveats and limits of flash cards in vocabulary acquisition (decision of whether to link L2 word to a picture or L1 word, lack of one-to-one L1-L2 correspondence, lack of argument structure, lack of sociolinguistic context, lack of allophonic detail, eye-tracking paths).  Such apps assume that a lexical entry consists of just one orthographic form, which is linked to just one meaning or one equivalent L1 word. It also ignores the role of output, especially output prompted by a meaningful need to communicate in vocabulary acquisition. Students may benefit more from developing their own flash card sets as a course project in a way where vocabulary is taught along with a rich linguistic (argument structure and collocations) and sociocultural (associations, indexical meanings) context.


What it does: Babbel teaches you words and phrases in: Spanish, French, Italian, German, English (for speakers of French, German, Italian, and Portuguese), Swedish, Turkish, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Indonesian, Danish, and Norwegian. It does this by means of listen and repeat; listen, read and tap-to-match; and fill-in-the-blank using jumbled letters or a language-appropriate keyboard.

Cost/platform/device info: Apple (all devices), Android, Windows – Monthly subscription costs as of 9-24-2014 are: 1 mo =$10.99/mo, 3 mo =$7.33/mo, 6 mo =$6.33/mo, 12mo =$5.42/mo. Note: I got a couple promo emails for buy 3 months, get 3 months. What language skills it covers: Vocabulary acquisition, learning different alphabets (e.g. Cyrillic), and some languages offer lessons on grammar, syntax, and pronunciation.

Reviews/suggestions: I checked out Turkish, Russian, Danish, and English for French speakers, and no two intro lessons were the same. Warning – Turkish crashed on me and had to be reloaded. In Danish, the intro lesson consisted of listening, and reading and matching. In Russian, in contrast, the intro lesson also included repeating words (though you can skip if you don’t want to enable your mic), practicing and predicting spelling in Cyrillic, and predicting previously taught words in little dialogues. Like mentioned in the Anki review, vocabulary is presented out of sociolinguistic context (though, interestingly, the English for French speakers did provide some sociolinguistic and lexical context, explaining when to use hello and giving a functional translation plus a literal translation for ‘Good morning’). “Courses” typically consist of 11 or so lessons on topics ranging from “Vacations”, “Body”, “Feelings/Attitudes”, “Home”, “The Pronunciation of Vowels” (Danish), “Building Sentences” (Turkish), and “The 100 Most Important Words” (Russian).


What it does:

This app allows you to read a variety of types of texts in two languages simultaneously. A native speaker reads the text in the target language, allowing you to hear the correct pronunciation.  Beelinguapp allows language learners to read and listen to a text in their target language and the L1 at the same time. Students can edit the speed of the audio, the size of the text, and can hide the L1 translation of the text.

Cost/platform/device info:

This app is available for Android and iOS users. The app is free and many of the texts are available for free. However, the free version does contain ads and not many texts. There are also a few premium options that give access to all of the texts without ads. A year of premium is $17.99, a month is $3.99, and there is a “no ad” option for $4.99.

What language skills it covers:

This app is specifically designed to practice reading. For each text, you can choose the target language and the base language. The screen displays both texts simultaneously, and there is the option to have it read aloud by a native speaker.


This app is easy to use and has a variety of text types to choose from. If your only goal is to read in a foreign language, then I think this app would be helpful. Most of the user reviews are positive. However, it does not allow for the practice of any other language skills.

The app is fairly simple to use and is a great way for students to read authentic texts in their target language. The app contains stories at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels that cover a variety of topics/genres. One of the biggest strengths of this app is the option to turn off the audio and translation. This allows students to determine the amount of assistance they want while reading. Besides the cost, the major downsides of this app are that there is no highlighting, note-taking, or dictionary functions. I believe that this app could be very engaging for students to use as outside of school literacy practice.


What it does: This language learning program teaches you mainly vocab through authentic materials. From its drop-down menu, it looks like most of the world languages are covered.

Cost/platform/device info: It’s still in the beta version so it’s free. You can access the program through their website. I couldn’t find any mobile apps. What language skills it covers: It mainly covers single words in a context.

Reviews/suggestions: When you choose a language to learn, they give you a level test. They first show you a couple basic words then a series of words from different levels for you to pick out the ones you know. The words are all defined using Google Translate and pronunciation is provided through Google Voice. Then after you are done with the vocab level test, they give you a suggested range of levels (from beginner to native) and you can pick one. They also ask you what other languages you know and what your levels are so they get a better sense of the words you might know in the target language. For the actual learning, you are presented with a number of categories such as technology, humor, fashion, etc. And under the categories, you can find some type of authentic material such as the lyrics from YouTube music video, a blog post, a paragraph from a news article etc. However, there’s often a mismatch between the content and the category. A short joke in French would also appear under fashion and technology even though it has nothing to do with either. They have the words you don’t know in red, but you can change that or mark other words as unknown. For Chinese, they define most of the characters separately even though it would make more sense not to separate some characters. You get to put all the words you don’t know together. They have a drill system where you have to guess the meaning of these words in sentences. Overall, I like the idea of using authentic materials to teach as well as using your knowledge of other languages to learn a certain language. They also have a great interface. However, you wouldn’t be able to learn much through only vocabulary with no explanation of grammar. Google Translate isn’t always a reliable source for definitions either.


What it does:To learn 9 foreign language by memorizing vocabulary, structure of sentences and conversational skills. You can use the app alone or have access to the community where you can practice your target language with other learners or native speakers.

Cost/platform/device info:They have both the website version and apps for smart phones and tablets. Users can log on with their Facebook or Google+ account, or just create a new one, for free. It is free of charge and you can enjoy most of the courses on it. Meanwhile, you can also subscribe to a Premium membership in order to get access to additional learning functionalities like grammar materials, video lessons etc. on the website. The cost for Premium membership is $9.99/month, or $7.99/month for 6 months($47.99 in total), or $4.99/month for a year($59.99 in total), or $3.99/month for two years($95.99 in total).

What language skills it covers:Busuu divides the language lessons into different scenarios and categories. For each lesson, it starts with vocabulary flash cards and after learning every three words/phrases, there will be a mini reviewing task to make sure you understand and remember the new vocabulary. Then it provides a model conversation in target language, with sound demonstration and translation in L1. After you listen to the conversation, it hides some of the key words in the conversation you have just listened to and lets you fill in the blanks and complete the conversation. Then, you can choose to do writing exercises with the knowledge that you have just learned or practice your oral skills (Premium only for speaking exercises) using the recorder in it.

Reviews/suggestions:The design of the website and its app is pleasing with some soft colors and clean arrangements of the lessons. And you can see all the topics of each lesson and choose the ones that you would like to learn first. Literally, it helps learners to practice all four basic language skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) but the speaking part is not free of charge, so those who have not decided to use it as a long-term study tool might not want to try their premium service at first. I really appreciate their way of studying vocabulary because repetition is a useful strategy in language learning. And they also have vivid images to help learning. However, I don’t see any systematical teaching of grammar, which might confuse the learners about why the sentence is structured in this way.

One of the advantages of Busuu is its own community system that learners can communicate with other users through the Internet. They can share their own homework and let other learners to make comments on, or check other learners’ homework. And they also have access to some opportunities to talk with a native speaker to improve their skills. Nevertheless, these functions seem only available on the website because I cannot get into the community services with my phone.

All in all, Busuu is more useful for beginner and intermediate language learners because there are no systematical grammar courses in it and all you can learn is the ability to have some simple conversations with others. Since it has 9 different languages that users can learn, we can use it as an introductory tool to see if you are really interested in the language, and then choose a more decent learning method to further your language study.


What it does: This app allows learners to practice vocabulary words and formulaic chunks via flashcard-like practice .

Cost/platform/device info: There both a mobile and an downloadable version of the platform and each has a paid and a free version. Byki Mobile is available on android and iOS and the downloadable version is compatible with MAC and PCs. The paid version of the downloadable software is 69$ and comes with the mobile paid version of the app for free (otherwise a 8$ cost).

What language skills it covers:  Vocabulary

Reviews/suggestions: Like Duolingo, Byki is just one of the products offered by its parent company Transparent Language. On the surface, it seems like another flashcard, vocabulary building app. However, they at least try to support their model by citing second language acquisition research to include the benefits of declarative learning and the importance of knowing lexical chunks as well as vocabulary. The cite a wide variety of research to include some older, but yet some new publications which supports their methodology. A beginning learner reviews a set of isolated words and lexical chunks (“how are you”, “yes”, “no”, “Hello” etc.) and then is prompted to provided an english definition when presented with the corresponding target language word. This activity is then followed by the English word which must then be translated into the target language.

This app falls victim to the “one-to-one” fallacy in that it assigns only one meaning to a particular word. However, during the review sessions the computer does not correct your answers. Instead, the app prompts you to say them aloud or in your head, and the self-report whether or not you were correct. The only time the app explicitly corrects you is at the end of the review session when you take the quiz. If you self report that you got the wrong answer, the app will then repeat that particular word over and over until you self report “correct” or decide to skip it. Either way, it will revisit the incorrect words until until you’ve self-reported a correct answer until continuing on with other words. While this does provide the learner with ample opportunities for input, there is no context whatsoever and all words and lexical chunks are taught in a vacuum.

It’s possible that the pay version of the software is more robust; however, the free version does not seem to stand apart from the many other vocabulary building apps in the app store. While they cite SLA theory to back their pedagogical practices, they don’t necessarily apply the SLA theory to its fullest potential.


What it does:  ChineseSkill provides lessons and assessments focusing on four skills for beginning Chinese learners. It’s a “one-way” app, which provides users with Chinese lessons and allows users to compete with peer learners; however, it doesn’t provide affordances for online communications with other Chinese speakers.

This app provides game-based courses based on the CEFR to develop 4 skills; enable to record your Chinese pronunciation; clear articulation and slower speed; learn Chinese characters; pinyin; sentences; switches easily between simplified and traditional Chinese; and review and test what you have learned.

Cost/platform/device info: Free for basic functions; Users need to pay $4.99 for HSK vocab and HSK lessons. It’s a one-time payment.

Available on both iOS and Android platforms. suitable on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

What language skills it covers: Listening, Reading, Speaking, Writing (It supports both Traditional & Simplified Chinese) and Vocabulary.


  1. The interface is neat and clearly organized.
  2. The free version has covered most of the daily topics: color, number & measure, food, shape, nature, negation, questions, time, and tense.
  3. Even though it’s designed for beginners, the app doesn’t provide any scaffolding for the Romanization of Chinese sounds, tones, intonations, etc.
  4. It has a “competing with friends” feature, and it shows on a board.
  5. It tracks your learning progress on a daily basis.
  6. There is a Chinese learning community where you can discuss Chinese-related topics in the forum.
  7. In the settings, learners can identify their L1s.
  8. Similar to Doulingo, ChineseSkill uses pictures to introduce vocabulary but it doesn’t play the sound of each character/phrase.
  9. It provides affordances for learning characters and practicing writing.
  10. There is a separate category called “travel phrases” that is ready for use when users are going to travel in China/Taiwan.

This Chinese app is great for beginners. This app provides 50+ Chinese skills, 150+ Chinese grammar points, 200+ sentence patterns, 1000+ key words and phrases, and 2000+ essential Chinese characters. The themes/topics may be geared toward high school students, such as “Friends and Social Life, Dinning and Vacation, and Dating and flirting”.


What it does: Conjuverb is an English to Spanish conjugation app. When you open the app, you can either type in an English or Spanish verb (any tense is acceptable), and then once you press search, conjugations of that verb will pop up in Spanish. The conjugations are organized into different tenses, moods, and aspects, and there are shortcuts to get to each type of tense at the bottom of the screen when the app is open. You can star certain verbs, which is equivalent to favoriting or marking an email as important, so that it is easy to retrieve at a later point in time. In addition to being able to star certain words, conjuverb makes it possible to create flash cards and organize these flash cards into different categories that make sense to the user. There is also a list of the top 75 word list, and then have lists in increments of 75, but it is unclear whether this is your top 75 words, or the top 75 most common Spanish verbs in general. Ultimately, there are over 1600 Spanish verbs on this app. It is important to note that the app DOES NOT conjugate Spanish verbs into English.

Price: The app costs 99 cents (one-time payment) and has compatibility with Apple products (ipads and iphones).

Language skills covered by the app: Conjuverb allows its users to improve their mastery of morphology, syntax, orthography, and the Spanish lexicon. However, the conjugations are isolated rather than being part of a sentence or discourse. This isolation makes the app nice to help learn knew words and answer questions about conjugations, but it is not conducive to discourse and pragmatic understandings needed to know when and how to use the verbs. It seems like a nice way to learn new verbs and build an understanding of conjugations and potentially even morphological patterns, but it feels like it would be best used as a supplement to more authentic contexts and texts.

Reviews/Suggestions: With the recent iOS8 update, a lot of people have been complaining that they cannot get the app to work. When it does work, it is slow and lags. These same people have loved using it before and are just waiting for apple to fix the many bugs associated with the new software update. My iphone software is part of the Stone Age, so it works just fine on my phone. I would recommend the app to anyone looking for a quick and easy way to learn a new word, review. (reviewed by Danny)


What it does: Drops allows users to practice with new vocabulary words in a dynamic, game-like manner. The app is advertised as ideal for individuals with a short attention span, as the daily practice sessions only last for five minutes. There are 120 lexical categories for 28 different languages.

How much it costs: Users are allowed to practice for five minutes every ten hours. If users feel like they require more practice with the target language, they can purchase one of three different payment plans:

– Curious: 15 minutes every ten hours in 1 language — $3 per month, $19 per year, or $24 for lifelong membership;

Genius: Unlimited time in 1 language — $8 per month, $51 per year, $65 for lifelong membership;

Polyglot: Unlimited time in all 28 languages — $13 per month, $78 per year, $100 for lifelong membership

Reviews/suggestions: This app is definitely targeted for a millennial audience looking for a highly-interactive way to practice rogue vocabulary in a particular language. The app is vibrant, aesthetically pleasing, and engaging. With push notifications sent to a user’s phone every day, the app offers regular reminders for language learners to take a quick break from their busy schedules to practice recognizing and spelling particular terms in the target language. The variety of languages offered ensures a diverse and broad target market. Nevertheless, the app is quite narrow in scope as there is absolutely no focus on grammar nor on contextualized language use. Essentially, this app is perfect for language learners looking for a fun and quick exposure to vocabulary and orthographic systems, but it will not lead to actual communication due to limited exposure and lack of communicative, task-like activities that require output from the learners.


What it does: It offers sentences in the target language as well as the native language of the user that must be translated. Using gaming technology (earning “lingots” for the digital store, losing “hearts” when a mistake is made, etc.) it draws the user into trying to master “levels” of the language and certain vocabulary in order to advance within the game.

Cost/platform/device info: Free, available to Android and iPhone users What language skills it covers: Translation and vocabulary acquisition.

Reviews/suggestions: You can pay for additional thematic lessons using lingots, which I did for “flirting” just to see what I’d get. The sentences are grammatically correct, but they don’t seem immediately applicable to everyday life. I’ve used Duolingo on a website as a way to brush up on my grammatical accuracy in Spanish. I’m doubtful that I would recommend it as a way to learn a language, but certainly as a supplement I enjoy it. I prefer the website version to the mobile app, as I find it faster to type answers there than on the mobile screen. Perhaps as a nod to the convenience factor in this area, the mobile app now includes preformed words on the screen for some sentence formation questions. This allows you to tap the words in sequence first so that you can input the word order without having to type everything out.

EAC Echo

What it does: Based on research of high volume pronunciation training, EAC Echo focuses on the 10 most difficult phonemes to distinguish. This program uses samples of 30 speakers from all around North America.

Cost/platform/device info: $1.39 for full version, Echo lite version is free. Available for iOS only.

What language skills it covers: This app focuses on pronunciation. It teaches phonemes and phoneme boundaries in American English.



What it does:Fluentlee aims to connect learners and tutors from around the world for 15-minute video conference lessons to improve conversational language skills. Anyone can be tutor and the site relies on user ratings to identify the most effective teachers. The most common languages taught are English, Spanish, and Chinese, though the company’s website claims to offer over 23 languages.

Cost/platform/device info: $4.75 per session (4-29 sessions), $3.75 per session (30-199 sessions), $2.99 per session (200+ sessions). Users can access the site with any modern computer with internet connection (Windows, iOS, Linux, etc.). Chrome and Firefox are needed for video tools. Users can access the site with iOS, Android tablets, or smartphones, though video tools are not currently available with iOS or Android.

What language skills it covers: Listening and speaking. No reading and writing. Vocabulary introduced in each lesson. Learners can select a profile and learner type that includes: General language learning (all types, all levels), Homework help and test prep (help with FL homework or test prep like ESL, SAT, etc.), Business (learning for a profession like medicine), Expertise on specific subject (connect to tutors who have domain expertise like agriculture), and Read stories to me/my child (pay someone to read you a book in a foreign language). The site acknowledges that there is a smaller pool of tutors for some learner type selections

Reviews/suggestions: The philosophy behind creating the site seems well-intentioned. The site lists three guiding philosophies:

1. Language starts with conversation – conversation is most important reason many people learn a language, though it is often the least taught in other language programs

2. Learning depends on student interest and engagement. Fluentlee draws heavily from IB philosophies. Teachers are supposed to be guides and mentors, not test administrators

3. Language learning needs to be part of everyday routine. Students should practice every day for at least 15 minutes

Only one language is available at a time per account.

It is difficult to critique the program because it was only launched in September, 2013. It will need to distinguish itself from other similar language sites that connect learners with tutors, sometimes for free. The 15-minute lesson structure could attract people who want to practice in small chunks, but the site will need to provide evidence that students are actually learning the language they are practicing. To be successful, Fluentlee will need to improve its technical accesability for all smartphones and increase the availability of tutors (the site admits that Fluentlee might not have tutors available all the time).



What it does: Allows users to do language exchange on smartphone by asking and answering questions in a forum style format.

How much it costs: Free


This app emphasizes asking questions to native speakers in order to answer questions about language or culture, although non-native speakers can answer questions too. Users can input data in written, audio, or picture form using open or pre-set question formats. Instructions are in the native language of the speaker, as are the question templates, which can be viewed before posting to see how the question will appear in the target language. Feedback is in the target language, and when users answer questions of beginner or intermediate users of the language, the app will remind them to try to avoid complex sentences. The multiple forms of output, interaction with real people, and the inclusion of cultural questions and answers are notable affordances missing from many language learning apps.

I posted my first question and got an answer in two minutes. When I answered a question from the most recent asked list, I recieved ‘quick points’ for answering in under 5 minutes, which was somewhat motivating. Questions and answers on display were limited to the target languages and regions listed in my profile. I was impressed by the number of languages and regions available in this app, and even a more obscure language I knew had users who were actively responding to questions. The question formats are: How do you say this?; Does this sound natural [poll]?; Please show me example sentences with…; What does this mean?; What’s the difference between…; Open question; Question about a country or region? The first two of these were the most commonly asked in English, but there was the possibility for more complex questions.

This app appears to be influenced by sociocultural theories, because questions are asked and answered by real people; the app filters questions available to the user based on language knowledge and regional interests; there is the possibility of being exposed to different varieties based on other users’ answers; and users have complete flexibility in what they learn.

I think that this app has the potential to be a good resource for learners of all levels who want to get quick feedback on language, or opinions from a variety of speakers. However, I could see learners spending a lot of time on this app as well answering simple questions in their native language. One idea for a lesson would be to have students ask questions on the app and share thee feedback with the class. They could then discuss whether they agree with answers to their questions. They could also discuss questions asked by others, and then respond to those questions on the site. The point system based on how recently the question was asked could provide an incentive for learners to answer multiple questions, potentially even outside of class.



What it does:

The app provides courses in a variety of languages, and many courses are delivered with native speakers. The teaching and learning focus is on authentic, daily English that is used to serve everyday communicative purposes, so the content and skills are emphasized on how to use English for communication effectiveness (not for professional or academic purposes) and on cultural elements which learners can encounter in real-life interaction with native speakers of that language. Once learners choose their target language, they can consider any levels that suit them from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, and can add new-level courses for the same target language or courses of another language. The app offers learners the experiences with both audio or video learning, knowledge/skills review and assessment.

Cost/platform/device info:

The website offers 4 service packages: Free (with very limited access), Basic at 4$/month, Premium  $10, and Premium+ at $23. All plans go with different types of promotion at different time registration  (e.g. 10% discount this week, or some extra language lessons next week). The main differences between Premium plan types and Basic plan lie in several distinctive features that include unlimited access to mobile learning apps, customed language bank, dictionary, line-by-line audio transcript, interactive voice recorder to check with a native speaker’s voice, personalised learning and assessment with English teachers. After signing up, learners are offered a seven-day trial with Premium access, and they can cancel their subsription at anytime.

To activate the recording function, learners need to install Adobe Flash Player via the link provided on the learning website/app.

What language skills it covers:

As the app focuses on learners’ ability to communicate in the target language, it places great importance on listening comprehension and pronunciation. Most of the lessons and programs are constructed with listening skills, pronunciation of words and grammatical points. Therefore, learners can practice their listening, speaking (via pronunciation feature), vocabulary, grammar (not in deep and thorough knowledge system), some reading comprehension (when reading lectures notes in the downloadable pdf files), and cultural points. However, learners may not have much speaking improvement because they are just required to pronounce and repeat words, phrases, possibly sentences or modeled dialogs, which are not free speaking and not delivered in somewhat natural interactive environment.


In my opinion, is an interesting and effective language learning app that students can take advantage of anywhere and anytime. It has some competitive features compared to other apps:

– Learners can look at the curriculum of their learning level before they take any lessons. Thanks to this, learners can have smarter choices on what they need and want to learn, which reduce their time for trying different lessons to then realize that they should take another level.

– Personalized learning (recommended and revised by a teacher/specialist) allows learners to have a course that not only suits their level but also accommodates their individual needs

– New items (both vocabulary or grammatical patterns) associated with cultural explanation help learners acquire the knowledge faster and produce more appropriate use in real communication with native speakers.

– Learners can create their own language bank (both vocabulary and grammar) by adding their favorite items and labelling them for easier course management. Even more, they can print their bank content straight from the website/app (in printing form) or export it as pdf file and save it to their computer.

– Instructions in audios and videos are co-delivered by both male and female instructors, which prevents learners to feel bored during lessons.

– Season voabulary (autum, holidays, etc.) with up-to-date and seasonal items is very useful for beginner learners when they know more suitable vocabulary to start or facilitate their communication with local people after they just arrive to the host country at a specific time of the year.

– For vocabulary videos, vocabulary is delivered not only by showing images but short moving video clips for illustration, which is more visual especially for abstract notions.

Recommendations: The app would deliver a more satisfactory service to their learners if they could minimize their small disadvantages that are not worth having.

– It is better that the instructors do not take turn so often in the audios, which easily distracts the learners. For example, the male teacher says “Next word”, the female then says “Busy”, then the men explains the word meaning, and the woman repeats the word two times for pronunciation practice. This turn taking may bother beginners because it takes time for them to process English in mind and when they have not yet get familiarized with the female voice, the man jumps into, easily leading to distraction. Instead, they can take less frequent turns like one finishes this word and the other can continue with the next word/phrase, which seems to be more complete.

– There are differences betwwen the instructors when they are giving lessons. For example, at beginner level, while one speaks very slowly, the other speak very fast as if the instruction is intended for intermediate level. It is recommended the teachers should conduct their teaching at the same pace that fits a certain level.


What it does:  It’s a vocabulary learning tool – kind of like electronic flashcards. You choose one of these languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Greek, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish, and then you download that language’s application (apps are named Hack Arabic, Hack Chinese, Hack English, etc.). Each app has 1,500 of that language’s most commonly-used words, the idea being that if you learn those words, then “you will understand up to 75% of a text or a conversation” in that language.

Cost/platform/device info: On the website itself, you can sign in for free and play free games on your browser. It becomes a freemium in some parts, like if you want sound for pronunciation, then you would have to subscribe. Additionally, each language has a mobile application that you can download from the AppStore for $2.99. The applications are only available for iPhone and iPad.

What language skills it coversVocabulary acquisition

Reviews/suggestions: I like that you can at least play the games online for free and that, depending on which language and which category or level you’re playing on, there sometimes is a voice that pronounces the words as they show up. The two types of games you can play on your browser are: a flashcard game and a matching card game. The flashcard requires you to write, so it’s not very good if you don’t know how to write in Greek, Cyrillic, Chinese, or Korean! The flashcard will show you the word in English, and if you don’t know it then you can flip the card to peek. Then you type in the word, it glows green if it’s correct, and then it gives you another word (and tracks your progress in a bar above the flashcard). The Matching card game gives you a word in English and then has 3 cards below it, each with a word that you must choose as the correct one. This game is better for languages with non-Latin orthographies because no writing is required. These two games aren’t perfect, though. I checked out the Chinese one, and it’s kind of misleading because a lot of the words in English aren’t directly translatable. Sure, the cards might provide part of a word or the general meaning of one, but something that is always said the same way in English may be said using different words in Chinese. Flashcards don’t give you any linguistic context for proper word use.


What it does: LingoHut’s mission is to help people succeed socially, intellectually and economically by teaching basic conversational skills. LingoHut concentrates on essential and basic language skills needed when assimilating into a new environment with an emphasis on speaking skills, but also listening, and writing. The website is rich in possibility for the beginning learner. The site is divided into three sections: Learn Languages (Aimed at the English speaker trying to learn a new language), ESL (Aimed at those who want to learn English), and GeoLingo (Interactive map that allows users to learn how to pronounce and compare the same word in many languages. By clicking around the map, users can also learn country and language facts). LingoHut’s content is translated into over 53 languages.

Cost/platform/device info:  LingoHut is free and is currently only available as a .com with no plans for an app. It’s visually appealing and easy to navigate. Its strength is in its offerings. For the majority of the languages, there are over 100 lessons available.

What language skills it covers:The lesson is presented with audio pronounciation and visual text. The lesson is reinforced through activities: flash card, matching game, tic-tac-toe game, concentration game, and listening game.

Reviews/suggestions: If a learner wants to gain vocabulary and phrases, it’s a good start, but it is not intended for the intermediate or advanced learner or those looking to see vocabulary, phrases in context. I would consider it more suited to the tourist who wants to learn survival language skills or the language learner who has just begun his/her learning journey. It is also heavy on the ads, so I recommend disabling before navigating this site. The lessons are developed by teachers and could be easily adapted to many different situations. One thing to note is the region from which the teacher suggesting the lessons is from as this might affect regional authenticity of language learner to learner. Good for the basics, but not authentic back and forth discourse.

What it does: Allows users to read articles and learn vocabulary words in context. Users collect vocabulary words by (a) double clicking on words from real and current articles, (b) by manually entering a word, or (c) doubling clicking on a word from anywhere on the web (users need to download the browser extension for this feature). The collected words can be used as flashcards. The user can freely edit their flashcards by selecting photos and example sentences that will best help them remember words in context. The app also tracks users progress through memory tests. Based on their progress, finds articles that best matches users’ abilities but are still challenging. 

Cost/platform/device info: Free. Devices supported are iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android, Mac/PC via web browser. Platforms supported are iOS, android and web browser.

What language skills it covers: Vocabulary, reading, discourse, translation and pronunciation. 

Reviews/suggestions:  Pros: The app promotes autonomy. Users take control of their learning by adding their own words and reading articles that interest them. Teachers can assign word lists for students to input into their collection. Students can then choose articles that contain the teachers list of vocabulary words and interest them. Vocabulary acquisition occurs within current and realistic contexts. Cons: Words are not treated as chunks, they are selected individually which does not account for collocations. This makes it hard to draw meaning from phrases. The test option is repetitive and doesn’t test users vocabulary acquisition, as words are out of context and not in chunks. Furthermore, the app lacks output opportunities. The app is aimed at receptive skills only and not productive skills All-in-all this is a brilliant use of teaching in context which is fun, engaging and realistic for users. I would definitely recommend this app!


What it does:

LingQ is a mobile app and internet site that helps users to learn a new language. They currently offer 11 different languages, most of them are European languages and the big ones from East Asia. LingQ offers language learners “lessons” where they can learn about language in context. Learners on the app can read and listen to texts and then translate them into their first language. All sorts of content is available from diaries to music lyrics to vocabulary about food to TED talks.

Cost/platform/device info:

LingQ is a free app, but there is an “upgraded” versions which give you access to more lessons. There are “challenges” that you can complete that give you points. They aren’t redeemable or anything so it’s more of like a “brag to your friends” thing. If you upgrade, you can have cheaper prices for accessing tutors or speaking partners on the website. You also have the option to submit your own content in your native language.

What language skills it covers:

This application/website is heavily dependent on grammar translation. The bulk of the lessons give you “psuedo-access” to genuine content. Only when you pay money do you get the chance to have actual interaction with another human speaker or tutor. As a grammar-translation app, there are ample opportunities to work on listening, reading and writing skills. If you have access to the tutors or speaking partners (via skype), then you have more communicative opportunities. Still though, those tutors and speaking partners are helping you do grammar translation work…


Pros: If you’re looking for a free website to work on beginner level language learning, this isn’t a bad option. It’s tough to find a database of native speakers and tutors that are available to help you learn another language. Also, if you’re looking for a place to generate language learning content or teach language one-on-one, then signing up as a tutor would be an easy way to make some cash.

Cons: Like most language learning apps, the heavy emphasis on grammar translation limits the kind of learning that could occur. The site could also work on being a little bit more user-friendly.




Mango / MLibrary (Mango Languages)

What it does: The app focuses a lot on pronunciation, and employs recording and playback technologies to help students develop accurate pronunciation of the target language structures. For each word, phrase, or sentence, users can record themselves and then listen to their speech either concurrently or separately from that of a recording to see if the pronunciation matches up. There are over 60 languages available to learn. For English, there are many subcategories for learners from a specific L1. For example, a native Arabic speaker would choose that specific English course. The reason for this is that the prompts and explanations are all given in the students’ L1. Each course contains 1-5 units, with 10 chapters in each unit and 5-8 lessons in each chapter. Lessons begin with an audio playback of a conversation accompanied by mangos acting like humans (complete with clothes in some scenarios). The lesson then guides students through learning the vocabulary and phrases needed in order for them to be able to have a similar conversation. Along the way, the app gives written and spoken grammar and cultural notes related to the vocabulary, phrases and interactions being learned.

Cost/platform/device info: Mango partners with many public libraries to offer their programs for free to those anyone who has a library card through that library. In Denmark and Ireland, all public libraries offer Mango, but in other countries only select libraries do. However, in doing a few zip code searches in California and Utah, most areas seem to have at least one or two local libraries offering Mango. If users are not able to find a library near them, they will pay $20/month or $175/year to use Mango, which gives them access to all languages (60+) and lessons. Mango language lessons are available through a web browser or on the free mobile app.

What language skills it covers: Mango covers mostly conversational aspects of language including pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. They focus on interactions and topics that are related to what students might actually encounter in real life. What language skills it covers:

Reviews/suggestions: Mango is a great way for learners to get started with a language, or for extra practice for a language class. For the most part the content does not seem very advanced so it would probably not be a great app for more advanced level learners and classes. Adding more units and lessons that are more advanced would be beneficial for those learners. The app does a good job of helping learners acquire vocabulary and pronunciation as well as cultural aspects of language. The lessons do not just give one or two chances for learners to practice, but revisit the different phrases throughout the lesson. The lessons also provide opportunities for learners to use critical thinking to produce new constructions of the language after learning grammar rules and new vocabulary, which seems to be pretty effective.


What it does: As predicted by its name, Memrise is a memorization tool. Essentially it is a flashcard making/practice app. Most of the flashcard sets, or “courses,” as they are called, are for learning foreign language vocabulary, but there are other types of courses as well: for example, country capitals or world leaders.

Each time you learn a new item, you are presented with a “mem,” which is usually an image with some text which acts as a pneumonic device. An example of a mem for the French word parler is a picture of Johnny Depp with the caption “I want TO SPEAK to the captain. Damn t’the depths whoever thought of parler!” This seems a little longwinded for a flashcard, but the idea is to present the user with something funny or outrageous that helps the word stick in their head. Users can create and upload their own mems and there is a selection offered for each new vocabulary term, so learners can pick whichever mem resonates with them the most. New words are also accompanied by an audio file which gives the pronunciation of the term.

Memrise’s biggest claim is their “scientific” formula for effortless learning. The ongoing metaphor permeating the layout of the site and app is a garden. Each new memory is referred to as a “seed.” Users are prompted to “water” their seed memories at scientifically calculated times in order to help them grow. The app prompts you to review your memories once a day or once every few days, with the intervals between “waterings” becoming less frequent as the words supposedly move into your long term memory.

Another of Memrise’s key features is its gamification. As far as incentive, Memrise operates on a point system. Each correct answer in a learning session is worth 45 points. Each correct answer in a reviewing session is worth 150 points. This means that the points add up very fast! It can be very satisfying at the end of a review session to see that you’ve earned several thousand points. Points from you and your friends (the users you follow) are displayed on a “leaderboard” on your homepage, in order to motivate learners further through the spirit of competition.

Cost/platform/device info: Memrise used to be completely cost-free, but has recently added a “premium” membership option which runs $9/month or $59/year. Luckily the addition of the premium membership has not limited any of the content available to free users. Rather than additional content, premium members are offered more features to customize their learning experience. They receive reports on their learning habits and which words they struggle with the most. This could theoretically encourage self-regulation of when and how users learn the best and help them pinpoint their most productive study habits.

What language skills it covers: Memrise is limited mostly to practicing vocabulary and phrases. The app has recently added a listening component, where an audio file is played and users have to choose the correct translation. Most response types are multiple choice, but the more advanced levels require a typed response, which also provides a bit of writing/spelling practice.

Reviews/suggestions: The most exciting feature of the app is the communal exchange of information. Anyone can contribute a course to Memrise on any topic they wish. This function makes the site a great tool for making personal vocabulary sets to study for a specific class or exam, if you don’t find a pre-existing course to suit your needs. The downside of having amateur users upload their own sets is that not all of the information contained therein is always reliable. Sometimes there are spelling/punctuation errors in a flashcard or the translation is simply incorrect. There is also not a very direct way of reporting these errors to the uploader or other users who may be learning the course. There is a forum on which they can post about each course, but only users who specifically click on the forum will see the posts; the errors will not be made apparent to them while they are learning. One suggestion would be to add a “report” function to the site which marks a flashcard as somehow incorrect or inappropriate.

Other pros of the site are the aesthetically pleasing layout and the sheer abundance of topics and languages that are offered – even uncommon languages like Aalutiiq, Greendlandic, Xhosa, Argentinian Sign Language, Dovahzul (a constructed language from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim video game), and Morse Code!


Nemo (Arabic)

What it does:

Nemo (Arabic) is a mobile app only that works on ISO and Android. It lets you practice most essential words and phrases of the language, each with native speaker audio. It also allows you to record your accent with the Speech Studio by simply recording yourself saying a phrase and then hear your voice next to the teacher’s. All audio is downloaded to the device and accessible even in airplane mode or without expensive international roaming fees. With Nemo, you can customize flashcards to exercise the language skill you want to improve. When beginning a new topic, setup flashcards to practice translation of Arabic to English so you can build familiarity with new words. Next, switch to translate English to Arabic to train your recall and ability to speak. To complete mastery, switch to cards that specialize in fine-tuning your listening and perfecting your pronunciation.

Cost/platform/device info:

Nemo (Arabic) is a free app, but it has an upgraded version for which you have to pay $9.99. You can sign in the application without creating a profile. Nemo is not built around lessons at all. It is meant to be picked up and put down throughout the day, whenever you have a few minutes to spare. No prior knowledge of Arabic required.

What language skills it covers:

Nemo tracks your progress across every single word and phrase. It is fully customizable, and it immerses you in the sounds of Arabic so you naturally speak with ease. You control which words to focus on – skip words you don’t want to learn or already know. You can also turn on Review Mode to recap what you practiced earlier in the day to boost your memory retention. It introduces words to you progressively to develop familiarity and reviews them at the right moment so they enter your long term memory. You can maximize your time investment by targeting Arabic’s high frequency words.
By upgrading to the complete version, you would be able get off the beaten path or find comfort with directions, travel and hotel phrases, decode menus with the most common food words, shop and find bargains like an insider with must-know shopping phrases, build your proficiency with the most important sentence building blocks in Arabic, and spark new friendships with compliments and conversation starters.



– Great app, for learning some basic vocabulary and phrases. When used in conjunction with other tools, it increases in usefulness even more as it allows you to test your reading and pronunciation of the Arabic language. Very good for adding words to your memory.
– I use this app to kill time during transit and learn at the same time.


– This up is not free. It is only a demo version that requires purchase of the full version.
– Need more update add more words please



What it does: Readlang is a program that provides an online e-reader of sorts and uses Google Translate to translate words and phrases instantly when you click on them.When you do that, the program saves the words in a database that you can refer back to later, and even creates a set of flashcards for you to practice with; you can also upload the flashcards to Anki if you want. There are certain texts and videos that have been uploaded already (and labeled according to difficulty on the CERF scale), mostly things that are public domain or linked from the internet. You can, however, upload your own pdf or epub files and get them translated as well; I think as long as you keep them private you are allowed to upload whatever you want. There is also an extension that allows you to translate ANY website in your L2, and it saves the words you translate there to your word bank too!  It currently supports 51 languages.

Cost/platform/device info: There is a mobile version of the extension for iOS and Android (not for Windows Phone, however).There aren’t app versions of the program (yet, it’s still in the beta stage), though the site functions fairly well as mobile site, and you can create an app-like link on your phone to link straight to the site. As far as pricing goes, the site is freemium—you can translate as many words as you want from as many texts as you want for all time, but you can only translate ten whole phrases per day, and the phrases can only be 8 words long or less. If you pay $2.50 a month, however, you can translate all the phrases you want. I read about a teacher version that is undergoing trials as well. This version boasts the ability to upload texts to share with only your students, to see how far students have read, what the most translated words are, and how often they are practicing. I didn’t see anything about a cost associated with this version.

What language skills it covers: The alleged purpose of the site is to help people learn languages, which I find to be a bold claim. I think it could be a very useful aid for memorizing new or difficult vocabulary,  but not something you could depend on. It provides a whole lot of “comprehensible input” in theory, and I suppose if you could memorize enough words you might be able to eventually read in a new language? You would only be able to read though, probably not speak or listen. There is no function for providing output.

Reviews/suggestions:  In terms of weaknesses, the main one I find is that it uses Google Translate,  which doesn’t translate whole phrases that well and is often just straight up wrong or doesn’t know the word (I’ve already found several mistakes). There is also an inherent problem with one-to-one translation, as it assumes that you can translate a word out of its context the same way every time (which you can’t). This is especially problematic for verb phrases, i.e. in romance languages where you might have a two-part verb plus a few objects that have to be translated as a unit to get the correct meaning. Technologically, the mobile version is much slower than the desktop one, so it would be difficult to read a longer text on your phone. It’s also seemingly another way to cheat, though if you’re on the free version it would be difficult to translate whole passages. As an undergrad student, and maybe even as an upper-level high school student, I would have found this useful for collecting the bank of new words. In undergrad I was constantly looking up words in difficult texts, writing them down, and ambitiously vowing to study them later. I rarely did. The flashcard function is ideal for that problem, but only once the reader has a significant mastery of the syntax and vocabulary of the language they’re reading in.


Sounds of Speech

What it does: includes interactive IPA, mouth animations, quizzes

Cost/platform/device info: $4.00, available on Android and iOS, phone or tablet

What language skills it covers: Pronunciation

Study Stack

What it does:

Study Stack provides a flashcard generation tool that can be used for language learning or general education tasks.  Teachers can design flashcards for their students, or students can design flashcards themselves.  The ability to create cooperative flashcards is included, and students can work together to create sets of flashcards.  Additionally, the site allows easy sharing of flashcards created by other users.

Cost/platform/device info:

An Android and iOS app are available in addition to the web-based platform.  The apps, and registration of a basic account, are typically free. The free version has a significant amount of functionality, but the paid version includes the ability to copy other stacks, to add more information on each flashcard, and to avoid ads on the site for teacher-created stacks. The teacher version costs $20.00 for one year, and the pro version costs $10.00 for one year.

What language skills it covers:

Study Stacks is a very flexible program that can facilitate any aspect of intentional language learning.  While it has obvious implications for vocabulary acquisition (which it was used for in a study by Hsui on collaborative flashcard use among LLers) the platform is flexible enough to allow for almost any kind of language skill that can be practiced using flashcards.  The ability to use pictures on flashcards is also quite useful for helping students to see the differences between closely related vocabulary items.  Courses which use a CBI approach might benefit from using Study Stack, since the platform is designed with a general education focus in mind and is well-tailored for learning about various subjects.  A large number of existing flashcards are also freely available, although they may need to be checked by an instructor before being used.


Although I was originally quite interested in this platform due to Hsui’s work, I was somewhat disappointed in the ease of use of the platform.  In order for learners to effectively use the platform, a significant amount of training would likely have to be conducted on what appears to be a balky and unintuitive way of creating flashcards.  Furthermore, the flashcard creator itself works differently from how it might be expected to. Instead of responding with the actual answer, the user presses a button to mark whether they know (or don’t know) the prompt.  This seems less useful to me, especially as students can simply mark items as ‘known’ instead of being forced to process responses by providing a direct answer.  Although the mobile apps are well-designed, the platform’s website is difficult and awkward to use.  Furthermore, several activities (aside from the traditional flashcard approach) are provided.  However, I couldn’t get these activities to work properly and suspect that their functionality is not as useful as one might expect.  The ability to use existing flashcard sets is very nice, although teachers should always review materials before presenting them to students to ensure that they are actually correct.  In short, I like the idea that study stacks provides, but feels as though the functionality isn’t as intuitive or easy to use as it should be for classroom use.


What it does: Speaky connects language learners together from 40+ languages. Each user must list their native language(s) and target language(s). The app connects users with both native and non-native speakers to have one-on-one instant message conversations.

Cost/platform/device info: Speaky is a free app available on Apple and Android devices.

Affordances: You can upload a photo and small profile. It supports 40+ languages. You can select multiple native languages and target languages. For your target languages(s), you can list your skill on a scale of five from beginner to expert. You can use emoji in your speech. You can add your interests as searchable tags. You have several abilities to say who can send you messages. You can search by gender, target language, and age. You can also hide from certain native language speakers.

Reviews/suggestions: This app is fun to use because you can connect to real people in real time. It is highly flexible because the topic are completely self-generated. The context lends itself to being open to new experiences and people as this is the premise of the app. The language learning theory behind it draws on sociocultural theory where the learner is apprenticed into a new language by a more experienced learner.

When using this app, the user is both treated as expert and learner allowing for multiple identities to be inhabited and interesting chances for code switching. However, it is unclear how much learning can happen here as it depends on the relationships developed with other users. It is not uncommon for people to abandon their profiles after a short time of use and women must be careful of men only looking for dates. There are also issues about equity of access, as a more forceful or dominate person could control how much of the communication is done in one language. The greatest benefit and pitfall is the flexibility of the system. It might be wise to set up ground rules after a while with a conversation partner about expectations. The app might be improved by having some documents or videos showing what kind of culture the app would like to create. Overall the app is a fun experience to meet new people but pragmatic use and common sense must be exercised.


What it does: Tandem is a community language-learning app similar to HelloTalk but with more features. The app pairs language speakers who are interesting in practicing each other’s languages. Users can talk to their partner through the app’s texting service, or through audio-calls, video-calls, audio messages, or photo messages. Users have a lot of input as to who they speak to: they can decide on the gender and age of their partner, and  can find new partners in topic communities centered around their interests. Users also are able to correct their partner’s text. The app includes language games and an additional paid tutoring service where users are matched with “professional language tutors”.

Cost/platform/device info: Free version in iOS and Android app stores.

What language skills it covers: Communicative competence, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, listening.

Reviews/suggestions: I think this app is a great way to practice a language if you already have some proficiency in it—as a beginner it would have limited applications. The addition of the topic communities alleviate the common conversation partner problem of having nothing to talk about. There are hundreds of topic communities. They also give the app some affordances for local use: a user can talk to others in their physical community about the language in that community.

The presence of the human moderators on this app is important, because from what I can gather in the reviews, other similar apps have a problem with users receiving unwanted inappropriate messages.

It’s important to keep in mind that working with a conversation partner could perpetuate some problems with language standardization. When using the app, I would be aware that if your partner corrects you, they are simply telling you how they would say what you did. They are likely not a language teacher checking a corpus.


What it does: Upon signing up, you receive 100 ucoins. These ucoins are used as currency to unlock different content based lessons. For example, a “Social Phrases” lesson costs 40 ucoins. You can select from over 100 languages. It offers different varieties of languages e.g. Latin American Spanish, Spanish, Spanish (Argentina). Once you select the language you’d like to learn, the app offers five main content categories: A La Carte, Business, Holiday, Living Abroad, and Friends and Family. Within each category are different topics ranging from social phrases to traveling. You can select which topic you want to learn. Within each topic, you can choose from six different types of games. These games vary by difficulty and skills such as speaking vs. memory. The speaking activities involve phrases or questions spoken by native speakers and translators, which the learner must repeat and later match to a picture. Feedback is given by marking the corresponding with an “X” or check mark. The memory activities present learners with a set of images that correspond to a spoken phrase or question. Learners have a limited amount of time to view the images before a phrase or question is given and they have to match the phrase they hear with one of the upside down cards. The recall activity has learners self-assess whether they spoke the correct phrase or question given to them and whether it matches the pronunciation of the native speaker or translator recording. After completing an activity, learners’ are given a visual representation of their overall progress in both their chosen content category and the overall language.

Cost/platform/device info: You can download the app for free on either an iPhone or iPad. It offers in-app purchases such as “ucoins” and a monthly subscription for $9.99. The free version allows you to try two whole topics. You earn ucoins as you complete those two initial topics. A monthly subscription gives you access to all content in all languages.  

What language skills it covers: Pronunciation, receptive skills, vocabulary

Reviews/suggestions: This app contains an impressive list of languages and varieties of languages. I like how learners are given a choice as to which content category, topic, and activity they want to learn. The amount of ucoins given upon signing up is quite limiting and can corner learners into getting stuck with a particular topic. Given the amount of ucoins required to unlock new topics, the amount of ucoins received upon completing an activity is also limiting. The amount of activities needed to complete to earn enough ucoins to unlock another topic may be discouraging to learners. I appreciate the use of native speakers and translators throughout the app. Unfortunately, learners may also be discouraged when holding themselves to this expectation when it comes to their pronunciation. It would be helpful for all activities that involve phrase practices to have the option of slowing the pace of the speech. I found some of the images that correspond with the given phrases or questions were ambiguous. I also find it problematic that the phrases and questions presented to the learners are out of context, despite the use of images. Though the topics belong to the same content category, the content within each activity does not seem to be very cohesive. When testing out the memory games, I found myself focusing more on the images of the cards rather than the meaning of the spoken prompt. This activity felt stress-inducing and a test more of one’s short term memory as opposed to one’s understanding of the content of each phrase or question. Lastly, the self-assess design of the recall activity may produce feedback that does not accurately represent learners’ progress.


What it does: It is a web based English language learning platform that is also compatible with mobile devices. It offers lessons through thematic units based on a specific content. Users choose content or language functions that are of interest to them when they register. Each unit has 18 lessons. With the paid version, you have access for 12 moths with two private tutoring sessions per month (through google hangouts), are given progress reports, and can take a proficiency assessment every three months.

Cost/platform/device info: It is web based, but can also be accessed on tablets or mobile phones (iPhone and Android). There is a 7 day free trial and after that it is $59.99 for 12 months.

What language skills it covers: It listening, reading, vocabulary in the app lessons and I assume the tutoring sessions can cover speaking and writing.

Reviews/suggestions: I completed some of the activities in the free trial for an intermediate high learner. I liked the functionality of the reading activity because it had an audio recording of the entire text and the text was also enhanced by making the target vocabulary items clickable resulting in a recording of the pronunciation and a definition. There is also a translator function in the reading activity. The listening activity was a short cloze task, but only the missing word was played in the audio instead of the whole sentence. I didn’t feel like that activity was particularly helpful. Another listening comprehension activity involved watching a video that was enhanced with keyword captioning. The video would pause and ask a multiple choice comprehension question, which I thought was more useful than the cloze task.

They claim to use TBLT for all of their lessons and authentic materials. I did not find any TBLT principles in the activities I completed in the trial app, but those might be more apparent in the tutoring sessions. In a job posting for Voxy Teachers, they look for CELTA certified or MA TESOL teachers with TBLT experience. I think the reading passage was an authentic piece of text that had been enhanced, but the materials used in the other activities were created specifically for learners, so I don’t think their claim about using only authentic materials is valid.


What it does: Wordlens instantly translates printed words using the device’s built-in video camera in real time.

Cost/platform/device info: It’s free and available for all devices. All language packs available in the app are free so far, but paid language packs are expected to be updated soon.

What language skills it covers: Vocabulary Acquisition

Reviews/suggestions: I checked with speakers of different languages offered in this app, and it seems that most Romanized languages work pretty well with translating. Russian translation seems a bit wonky, but according to the app developers, they are working on fixing it. Wordlens is definitely a cool application that will allow people to travel to countries of different native tongues even if they don’t speak those languages. One downside of the app is that it does not work with handwriting yet, but I hope the developers fix it soon so people with different L1s can communicate by writing in their L1s and using Wordlens to translate them.