Duolingo makes learning fun, turning the drudgery of learning a new language into a game. Earn points, race against the clock and scale the levels as your Spanish improves. The app won the Best Application award in the Apple Store in 2013. It also lets you practice reading, writing, listening and speaking – recording your answers and rating your spoken Spanish. One downside to Duolingo is it is not as grammar-focused as other apps; it focuses on the ten most commonly used tenses.
The Babbel app claims to have “reinvented language learning” and gives users a new language-learning experience in which they can connect with fellow language learners. Babbel’s method focuses on repetition, not unlike Duolingo. The app is free to download after which there is a monthly subscription cost. Babbel also uses a gamification strategy – encouraging learners to collect points as they progress through their language learning.
This iTunes App of The Year 2014 is different from many of the other games-based apps on the market in that it encourages users to interact with native speakers. The app offers vocabulary, audio and grammar lessons as well as allowing users to submit practice exercises where native speakers will help you perfect your skills. Users can also take part in interactive courses and direct interaction with native speakers via an integrated video-chat application and peer-to-peer text corrections.
Memrise does what it says on the tin – helps users memorize thousands of words, but what is special about this app is that it uses funny wordplay and memes in order to help users remember new words. The app offers hundreds of courses with titles such as: Learn Basic Spanish, 100 most popular Spanish verbs and 350 Spanish sayings. One example of a wordplay used to help with Spanish learning is for the verb bañarse – to wash or bathe yourself – it is remembered with the phrase: “However shy you are of nakedness as you shower, you’ll never be able to ban your ‘arse’ from the bath!”
The Mindsnacks Spanish app features nine games designed to teach essential vocabulary and conversation skills – all while completing what looks like a colourful children’s book. Users are asked to complete various challenges according to their language proficiency.