Learning a new language is one of the most exciting ways to boost your travel!
If you’ve done any research online, you may have noticed something: There are SO MANY options when it comes to language learning. Whether it’s a language learning app, language learning school, language learning software – there’s so much to choose from!
Which ones are legit?
Which ones aren’t?
Am I going to feel intimidated or out of place?
Is it possible to learn a language entirely online?
These are all common questions, and I’m here to put your mind at ease.
Yes, the internet is full of websites and products aimed at both casual and serious language learners.
A lot of them, while well-intentioned, don’t get in-depth enough (especially for the fees some charge!) Others are catered for a specific crowd, like business travelers or foreign exchange students.
So here in Zero To Travel’s handy language learning guide, we’re going to break down the best options for busy language learners on the go.
I hate to break it to you – language learning isn’t like a video game. There’s no secret up-up-down-left-one-two-start combination that gets you to the end faster. You’ve got to be dedicated and put in the time.
The good thing is that the best language learning resources are built in order to make the task both doable and enjoyable.
Enjoyable is the keyword. Learning a language can be tough but also be fun. And as long as you are having fun you will push past the hard times and achieve a level of fluency you never imagined was possible.
Mix and match the resources below that work for you, combine these tools with regular practice speaking and you’ll be well on your way.
Let’s take a look at the best language learning apps and resources on the internet.
Best language learning app
There really is an app for everything, certainly no exception here. Both of the apps mentioned here are available on iPhone and Android at no cost.
I know the whole “free” thing is super appealing – but it’s important to remember that while using an app is great for basic vocab and familiarity, it’s tough to reach fluency via your cell phone. That said, definitely download these apps and put them to use!
Duolingo is an incredibly popular language learning app for two main reasons: it’s free, and they turn their lessons into fun games that you can work through while sitting on the couch watching TV, killing time at a coffee shop, or while bored at work (don’t worry, we won’t tell!).
The setup is similar to a video game – work through levels, which get progressively harder as your language ability increased. Duolingo is great for obtaining basic vocab and a familiarity with the sounds of a language.
It’s engaging and at times tough to put down – the better of the app options, in my opinion.
Memrise is similar but a bit more professional, in my opinion. They offer a basic and pro version, and their content is available via mobile app or web. Choose your language, ability level, and dive right in – there isn’t much beating around the bush or prep work.
Live online language lessons
As engaging as apps are, it’s tough to master a new language on them alone.
For live online language lessons, Live Lingua is the bee’s knees. Live Lingua is the world’s first immersive online language school, meaning they take the immersive language learning method that has been used for thousands of years and adapt it to their online platform.
Their platform offers online language lessons in the world’s 11 most common languages, pairing students with a teacher that meets their personality and goals to guide them through the process.
The concept is super cool and built for travelers. Lessons are taught by native speakers of the language. Because everything takes place online via Skype, lessons happen on a schedule that works for both the student and teacher.
Students pay by the hour, so there’s no huge upfront cost or commitment to buying ‘x’ amount of months – it’s super flexible and as professional as it gets. I simply can’t recommend Live Lingua highly enough, especially when partnered with a language learning app.
Recorded audio courses
Pimsleur offers recorded courses in more than 60 different languages – meaning that wherever you’re headed next, they can probably help you communicate more effectively. Their lessons focus on vocab and repetition in a way that is as modern as it is effective. Plus you can learn on the go – try out a free lesson here.
Top online language blogs
The Mezzofanti Guild is the brainchild of renowned polyglot Donovan Nagel. It’s super useful for global nomads – along with language learning tips, he offers insights on putting your new language skills into use on the road.
The site also serves as a sort of hub for the global language learning community. The site is built to be community-driven. It has an active blog with high-authority guest posters, an extensive collection of language learning resources, and a forum where users can interact with each other.
Donovan is an advocate for endangered languages and uses his blog as a voice as such.
Fluent in 3 Months is among the web’s most popular language learning blogs. It’s a language hacker’s paradise – full of ‘tricks of the trade’ and simple hints to enact in your studies. The name implies the goal of helping YOU master a new language before heading out on your next trip.
Summing it all up
Did you find an option that appeals to you? More than one, perhaps? If you’re just getting into learning a new language, I recommend that you start by downloading a language learning app like Duolingo and diving right in.
Play around, learn a few phrases and get a feel for pronunciation, then consider taking a deeper plunge into truly learning the language.
For that, there’s just nothing that beats live immersive lessons. Not everybody has the chance to live in a country whose language they are learning while they are learning it.
If that’s you then Live Lingua is the way to go.
Working one on one with a native speaker online not only helps you reach conversational level incredibly quickly, it allows for real-life interactions and decision making that isn’t staged.
You’ll learn how the locals talk, how their sense of humor works, and who knows – you might even build a lasting friendship and have a personal tour guide for your upcoming travels!
Note: This article contains affiliate links for products I have enjoyed and recommend. That means I’ll get a small percentage (at no extra cost to you) if you decide to use one of these services.
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