Apps for Learning Language: How to Succeed

Oleksandr Kruglyak
Head of Dev Department at TRIARE
6 min read
Apps for Learning Language

Language learning apps are popular as an instrument – as well as a business idea. Let’s find out what they offer.

Learning a language via an app has become a popular pastime during the lockdown. But the trend doesn’t seem to decay. Searches for apps related to learning a language have grown by 50% over the past year. With a promising 18 percent CAGR for the period 2020-2024, the global language learning market is an appealing area for new products.

And, of course, there is no shortage. Language learning apps of all kinds are entering marketplaces constantly, and it seems that each style of learning has an app to satisfy it. But are they really effective? Researchers say they are if you have realistic expectations. Our language learning apps review will give you an idea of what is effective and how to make a compelling product.

Let’s begin with analyzing three top players on the market – Duolingo, Memrise, and Babbel.

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Best Language Learning Apps


Language Learning Apps Triare 2

Duolingo is a free platform that allows learning languages from scratch. It offers a skill tree of lessons to improve reading, writing, and pronunciations, including flashcards, listening, and multiple-choice questions. The program is organized hierarchically: you gain points and move from level to level at your pace. The tasks gradually become more complex, with the help offered at each step.

The app has drawn attention, promising free access on all platforms (Android, iOS, web). It has been gradually implementing monetization streams such as display ads, premium versions, and paid language proficiency tests. Let’s review the main reasons for the app’s success:

Gamification. The elements include in-app currency you can find in chests, accumulating experience points, and monitoring the number of lives. Looks very similar to videogames, right?

Community. Duolingo is a platform where you can go for translations, discuss particular questions in the comments, and connect with people learning the same language. You can also join clubs for fun and practice.

Innovation. It goes without saying that the app offers an intuitive, state-of-the-art interface. The breakthrough was due to the implementation of chatbots before they became mainstream. This feature earned Duolingo a reputation of an innovator among language learning apps.


Language Learning Apps Triare 3

Memrise is another language learning app with a unique format. The creators were inspired by the method used by countless students around the world: flashcards. Duolingo has flashcards, too, but Memrise offers more of them, especially when introducing new or complex topics. Of course, there are other formats to try: listening exercises, crosswords, word matching exercises, and more. In the Memrise Pro plan, there are games, chatbots, and an offline mode for the user’s convenience. So, what exactly makes this product stand out from other apps for learning a language?

Unique features. Memrise is, first and foremost, about engaging flashcards. However, there are a few memorable, unique features that users particularly like. When learning new words, you can mark them with your notes (called “memes”) with anything that helps you remember them. Another interesting tool is getting a translation of objects from the pictures you take.

Learn With Locals. This is probably the most outstanding feature of the app. The words are paired with videos of native speakers who say them out loud, demonstrating the notion at the same time. It can help effectively associate the words and phrases with their meaning. In addition, it helps improve pronunciation.

Interface and community. Of course, you can’t go anywhere without a user-friendly interface and a large community that provides user-generated content. It’s the basis for any successful language learning app.


Language Learning Apps Triare 4

Babbel is a subscription-based app with 14 languages available. You can take the first lesson for free. It provides 15-minute language lessons, during which you can learn new words and phrases. The progress is trackable via the My Activity module.

Seems similar to others? Yes, but there are a few features that stand out and make this language app popular.

Conversational examples. Babbel offers traditional listening or multiple-choice exercises, but its unique feature of conversational examples is especially effective. It shows how you can use words when talking with somebody.

Speech recognition. Babbel was the first language app to introduce the feature of instant audio processing. It allows users to speak words back instead of clicking on them or writing. A great way to improve your pronunciation! Of course, you can disable the microphone and only listen to the words with a subsequent traditional quiz.

Design. Users claim that Babbel’s layout is simple enough to prevent learning from being overwhelming. The flow of UX is also very similar to offline studies.

Despite their differences, all the apps have something in common. These few things are key to creating a successful language learning app.

Secrets of a successful language app

  •   Create a fun, gamified environment
  •   Make it easy to use (intuitive interface, a system that ensures low adoption barrier)
  •   Flexibility and uniqueness – think about how you can make the life of learners easier.

Alright! We’ve analyzed a lot of information. Now you have an idea of how to make an enticing app. But here’s a tricky caveat: the app also has to be effective. The best recommendation for the app is when people really do learn the language and are satisfied with the results. That way, they will continue using it and recommend it to everybody.

All the language learning apps give an enticing promise – teaching you an entirely new language with ease. The question is, are they effective? According to researchers, language apps really can do wonders – if you use them for the right goals.

So, what are the strong points of language apps that you can make an emphasis on?

  1. Initial learning. Between zero and approximately B2 level, you will likely see exponential progress.
  2. Basic phrases. Say you plan a journey and want to quickly pick up essential staff; an app would be perfect!
  3. Different writing systems. Apps make learning new symbols, like Chinese or Cyrillic characters, so much easier.
  4. Complementing studies. Apps can be successfully used in classrooms, especially for repetitive tasks like grammar; their non-threatening, fun environment can boost learners’ results.

Making Language Learning Apps for Android and iOS

You can develop Android or iPhone language learning apps, or both. The only difference will be the tech stack the product will be written on. For Android, it will likely be Java, and for iOS, it will be Swift. However, we recommend analyzing your target audience and their preferred devices prior to making the decision.

As for monetization, there are paid language learning apps as well as free ones. To be precise, apart from a one-time purchase, you can use advertisements (in-app ads), freemium, or subscription models. Maybe even mix or change them, as Duolingo did. Everything will work if you make your app memorable.

To conclude

We hope we have helped you with analyzing the language learning apps market. The idea of a language app is fresh, fascinating, and lucrative. Good luck on your journey!

How we can help make your idea a reality?
Oleksandr Kruglyak
Head of Dev Department at TRIARE