Being able to speak the local language of the country you are visiting is one of the best ways for travelers to become deeply involved in the culture. You don’t have to be fluent, but just learning basic words and phrases can greatly improve your trip.
If you are traveling to several countries it can be difficult to learn all of the languages. Especially in a place like Asia, where they have 2,100+ spoken languages.
But don’t freak out — if you have a smartphone, you can learn as you go.
Check out the list of some of our favorite language learning traveling apps.
Duolingo is my favorite app. It’s free, has great design, and covers over 23 major languages.
It is really helpful for total beginners all the way up to advanced learners to get a grip on classic languages such as German and French. It also caters to some more unusual choices, like Norwegian, Swahili, and Klingon.
Babbel (Free & Paid)
Babbel is another very popular learning app that makes learning a new language fun by making it a game.
It has native speakers saying the words which helps you say the phrases correctly.
The free version includes 40 classes, which is sufficient enough to help you learn a fair amount phrases in 13 languages, including Dutch, German, French and Italian. Its language courses are paid for via subscription and would cost from $6.95 to $12.95 a month.
TripLingo is the ultimate app for international travelers because they can learn essential phrases and translate phrases in an instant, as well as feel safe and savvy during their trip.
Again this app is made for travelers. It includes an interactive phrasebook, culture notes, voice translator, and tip calculator. It even has its own safety tools — like emergency help numbers in foreign lands and local help in case of food allergies — that can be (literally) a life-saver in tough situations.
Busuu (Free & Paid)
Busuu is a social network for learning languages. This app helps connect travelers to a growing community of native speakers. Because of this, each user can learn different languages from its “mother tongue.”
Busuu offers 12 diverse languages in full courses. The app has similar features to Duolingo in terms of its gamified, visual approach to learning, where topics are connected to specific tasks with a mini-travel course.
Memrise is a powerful tool to help you learn a large amount of words in a short amount of time.
The app is very unique because it revolves around memes. That’s right — it allows users to take on a learning method that bizarrely associates vocabulary with memes.
The memes are made by the Memrise’s own community, which means you can create and add your own. As you earn, revise and create your own memes, you can advance your status in the Memrise hierarchy of users, from Membryo to Overlord.
Courses are available in almost all languages, including invented ones that are created by its active community.
MosaLingua (Free & Paid)
MosaLingua is a well-balanced app, but only allows users to learn from a choice of five languages.
This app is like flashcard but on steroids. Their cards are designed to activate all memory channels, including audio and visual memory.
Though this app is not fully unlocked unless you pay for each language, its free version is sufficient enough for users to have a quick, five-day learning spree to test it out.
(How to) Pronounce (Free)
Have you ever been in a situation where you dine in a foreign restaurant but suddenly felt embarrassed to order off the menu because you have no idea how to say it? (How to) Pronounce is the perfect solution for this problem.
This app helps users learn the exact pronunciation of words or phrases that they encounter in their everyday life. Whether it’s in English, Spanish, French or German, just type it in and you’ll instantly check its exact pronunciation in its native tongue.