Do you want to start learning a language? Fathom Reads is a wonderful resource for language learners. We have books with as many as ten different languages.  

Fathom books are a great place to practice pronunciation and visually see the different sentence structures as the words and audio flip. Audio helps readers visualize the words and the objects associated with those words. Visual learners will appreciate the bilingual feature and seeing the words highlighted as they are read.

But…if you are just starting out and need a basic foundation, we tested a few language learning apps, and here is what we thought. **We tested the free versions or demo versions of each on a tablet. Some allowed us to only see sample lessons, others gave more robust activities, or you could build up to more vocabulary over time.

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay

Babble

 Starting off with Babble, you learn helpful phrases to get through daily life in that language. The lessons show repetitive phrases and then use them in conversation as you speak and choose different options. While we just tested a short introductory lesson, they are clearly outlined based on events that might happen. A subscription would be helpful to someone prepping for a trip. Prices vary based on your chosen subscription length.

Duolingo

 Appease your Duolingo Owl by typing the correct phrase in each challenge. The colorful game-like app challenges users to learn words, phrases, and sentence structure slowly at first and then through more challenging phrases. The language choices are extensive! The more you play, the more points and hearts you earn to earn more exciting challenges. You can even compete with friends in point totals. The free app is supported by advertisements and gives you limited mistakes each day, but upgrade to plus if you want ad-free and unlimited learning.

Memrise

 Like other apps, we started off with the basic greetings lesson. Memrise uses short video clips of vocabulary, and then you either select or type them. The “learn” tab has a great vocabulary section to quickly look up words and their meaning, and you can take a picture of words to get a quick translation. This would be especially helpful when traveling. Helpful videos also give you more insight into the language. The app doesn’t focus on pronunciation like many of the others but gives you a good vocabulary overview. Of course, a subscription upgrade gives you more options.

Busuu

 Here we had visual and video lessons before a multiple-choice approach to clicking answers. The review gives you a dashboard to show your mastery of vocabulary. Busuu also has a place to connect with other users, which is great practice. The video is a great way to see your vocabulary words used in practice. The test gives you a chance to check what you learned but be careful where you click–no second chances here. Upgrade options allow you to learn faster.

Rosetta Stone

 Language learning with Rosetta Stone has been a staple for many people over the years. This app combines images with words or phrases in a matching format. The program has a strong focus on pronunciation while introducing new vocabulary. The visual clues are definitely helpful when matching the phrases, and repetition reinforces the concepts. The subscriptions are the most expensive of all we tried.

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