Scholars have named English the world's most influential language. It's the second most common language in the world. Over 340 million people speak English as their first language. English is the most common second language in the world doubling the second most common Arabic.
Is it time we moved past the mentality of "Everybody else speaks English so why do we need to learn a language?" 😤
As the world has become more accessible both physically and through the development of technology is it time the nation learns a language and expands their horizons?
As we know, the internet can be a magical learning tool which can teach us anything from baking a cake to the best ways to keep fit... but how can it teach us a language?
Why Learn a Language
Before we show you great apps to learn a language let's understand why it is invaluable to learn a language.
- Employability: We live in an increasingly globalised world and companies are constantly expanding overseas and dealing with clients from all over the world. Between two candidates with the exact same skill set and experience, the person who is bilingual is arguably much more likely to get the job. Give yourself the upper hand.
- Study or live abroad: With the world being more accessible than ever it's important that we have the tools to travel. There is no greater travel tool than the power of language. With the tool of language you can live and work abroad, isn't it the dream to escape our infamous British weather for some of that Spanish sun? 😎
- Increase brain power: Recent studies have shown that foreign language students test higher than their monolingual peers especially in math, reading and vocabulary.
- Meet new people: There is no doubt that language is a barrier when meeting people from different countries. Being able to communicate in a different language will allow you to meet new and interesting people and develop life-long friendships (or, who knows, even the love of your life!) 😘
- Health: You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5.
There are literally thousands of reasons why we should be learning a second language and why learning one will benefit us but the main reason for learning a language is why we learn anything...
Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist, can lay claim to a lifetime of achievements, but confessed earlier this year that a foreign language was missing from his CV. In an attempt to tackle the problem, he rejected using his $80bn fortune to hire an army of private tutors and joined the 100 million people in the world on Duolingo.
Having grown up in Guatemala the founder of Duolingo, Luis Von Ahn wanted to create an educational tool for those people without money to learn a language and expand their horizons. People will of course need access to a computer, mobile or a tablet but this is accessible for most people globally.
Duolingo was founded in 2012 and now has over 100 million users worldwide. 3 million users are in the United Kingdom alone and the numbers continue to grow with 100,000 new users being added a day.
Features of Duolingo
- It's free: There is no cost, no adverts and gives everybody the same platform to learn from. The founder of Dulingo only ever sees the app as being free as to give everybody the same opportunity regardless of wealth. It will be free forever. 😊
- 14 courses for English speakers: English speakers can learn the following languages; Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Danish, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Esperanto and Russian.
Learn anytime, anywhere: Make your breaks and commutes more productive with iPhone and Android apps and learn outside the classroom.
Duolingo for schools: Duolingo has a specialist learning platform available just for schools. It's currently being used by thousand of teachers to enhance their lessons. Over 100,000 classrooms are now using Duolingo.
Set homework: Duolingo for schools gives teachers the ability to assign homework that kids actually want to do! Children think of Duolingo as a game and strive to earn points, pass levels and compete with their friends.
Track pupils progress: Track the progress of your pupils from your teacher management system. It's easy to track and tells you which levels your pupils have advanced to and where they may be struggling.
Rosetta Stone is one of the biggest brands in language learning in the English speaking world (not to be confused with the Rosetta Stone that helped us decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, which it is named after).
Apart from instructions (like repeat, listen etc,) everything is in the target language in an attempt to immerse you in the language completely.
Rosetta Stone is regarded as a premium and corporate language resource tool, with prices for a personal course ranging between £190-£300. Courses are either 12 or 24 months.
Rosetta Stone is available for educational institutions and currently is used in over 22,000 educational institutions. There is not a fixed price for the educational software you can make an enquiry as pricing varies on the size of your institution and number of potential users.
Features of Rosetta Stone
- Track pupils progress: Simple but powerful administrative tools make it easy for teachers to drill down on students' strengths and weaknesses and to measure progress effectively.
- Learn anytime, anywhere: Today's students are surrounded by digital and mobile technology. Mobile apps mean that teachers and providing innovative ways to enrich student's language learning and giving them a chance to practice their skills outside the classroom.
- Teacher guides and workbooks: Teachers can access support materials for popular languages, including guides, quizzed and engaging paper-based activities.
- Support and training: Unlike Duolingo, Rosetta Stone is a premium service with offers you expert support and resources to ensure a successful implementation of language-learning programmes in your school.
- 28 courses for English speakers: The personal accounts offers 30 courses ranging from Arabic to Swahili. Education accounts only support the following courses; English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
- Speech recognition: One of the premium features of Rosetta Stone is the very expensive speech recognition software. Unlike other language learning software, Rosetta Stone enables you to practice speaking the language and gets you more involved.
Although Rosetta stone may be a bit pricey it's a premium brand which has been around for 20 years. Try a demo for schools for free....
Memrise similar to Duolingo. It is free a online learning tool but with courses created by its community. There are thousands of language courses available on Memrise because it is a community based learning tool.
Courses created by Memrise themselves are quite long and intensive similar to courses on Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, so it is possible to properly learn a a language using Memrise.
Unlike Rosetta Stone and Duolingo , community created courses offer a wealth of languages and variation which are particularly useful for people wanting to learn a more obscure language.
There are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world, so a community network like Memrise is a really important tool. Compared to other language software suppliers which only teach 10-30 languages (less than 1% of the worlds languages) it really shows the importance of Memrise.
Features of Memrise
- Learn anytime, anywhere: Just like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, Memrise realises the importance of being able to practice your language skills on the move.
- Tracking system: Memrise tracks your progress and keeps the user updated on just how many words they've learned giving you motivation and physical proof of how your language skills are coming along.
- Community learning: Memrise believe that learning should be as rich and varied as the world you learn about. Community created courses build a learning style which is packed of multimedia to bring your learning to life.
- Create a study group: Create a study group for your students. Pick from thousands of multimedia flashcard courses, track your students progress on leaderboards for each course they are taking.
- Thousands of courses: Unlike Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, Memrise courses are created buy their community and offer many more language courses giving you a wealth of choice.
Whichever language app you decide to choose, remember the fundamental reasons for learning a language, to explore and expand your horizons. A language is a beautiful skill which helps us reach out to another community in the world.
We would love to hear about how you have used these apps and how your language skills are coming along! Please comment below and share your experiences with us.
Don't be afraid to leave a comment in the new language you've learned ;)