Apps for Learning English

The 13 Best Apps for Learning English [Updated for 2022]

It’s 2022, and you’ve probably got your phone with you most of the time–which makes it an ideal study tool. 

We’ve come up with the best apps for learning English, amidst the thousands of mobile apps out there.

These apps make it easy to learn English “on the go” in lots of unique and interesting ways.

We’re a team of language learning geeks and polyglots, with 10+ languages between us. A lot of us have learned English as a second language all the way to fluency, so we have direct experience with what’s effective.

Let’s dive into our list of the best apps for learning English (and loving it!).

Contents

Best for Pronunciation: ELSA Speak

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: ELSA Speak hones your pronunciation in English with an AI (artificial intelligence) coach that spots where you can improve. 

Price: Free, with extra features at $11.99/month 

ELSA Speak Logo

ELSA Speak is probably the best mobile app around for helping you improve your English pronunciation.

As an intermediate or advanced learner, you might already be at the point where native English speakers can easily understand what you’re saying, but your pronunciation still doesn’t quite sound the same. If you want to sound more like a native speaker, then ELSA gives you mini-training sessions for that.

The app’s greatest strength would be its intensive AI feedback. ELSA’s specialty lies in speaking, and many of the app’s exercises involve you having to talk out loud.

The app’s AI analyzes your recording based on pronunciation, intonation, and fluency. It then points out exactly which sounds sound inaccurate, complete with a percentage for how close you sound to a native speaker. 

It can be a bit eye-opening because it points out tricky pronunciation areas that you probably haven’t noticed. For example, with the schwa sound, you’re supposed to pronounce the English word “actor” as “ac-tuhr.

I’d recommend this app for any English learner who wants to work on their speaking. Even if you’re already fluent in English, you might be surprised at what the app can catch!

Best for Immersing in English Videos: FluentU

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: FluentU takes authentic English media like online videos and songs and unpacks them for language learners with interactive subtitles and other tools.  

Price: Monthly subscription (with free trial included)

FluentU is a language learning app with a different approach. It teaches you English through authentic online videos like news reports, movie scenes, and interviews, with learner tools for all levels.

For one, each clip has interactive subtitles. When you’re not sure what a word means, just hover over the subtitles, and you’ll get an explanation. The app also gives video examples for each word so you can learn vocabulary in context.

Another interesting feature would be the dual language subtitles in English and another language. Subtitles are written by language experts instead of automatically generated, so you can expect translations to be reliable. 

For practice, the app allows you to study new words using flashcards or take a personalized quiz after each video. Quizzes include sound snippets to test your listening comprehension, plus speaking questions where you have to talk out loud in English.

If you’re like me, you might actually end up binge-watching (watching several videos in one session) since the app suggests videos for you to watch next based on your current level. 

Immersing in media is useful for pretty much every English learner, and FluentU will expose you to English as it’s genuinely spoken, including everyday expressions and common slang

Best for Basic English: Mondly

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: Mondly focuses on conversational phrases for everyday situations, and it includes extensive practice tests and an augmented reality (AR) feature.  

Price: $9.99 / month

Mondly Logo

Mondly is a well-known app with more than 100 million users for 40+ languages. When it comes to English, Mondly does great at teaching you conversational phrases that you can use in real life, from shopping at a grocery store to going on a date.

The app has a futuristic look, with a world map that you can scroll through to select lessons. Lessons are categorized by theme, such as travel, public transportation, grammar, and pets. If you don’t have a specific topic in mind, you can also go with the app’s customized daily lesson.

Lessons mostly consist of interactive quizzes, where you’ll have to fill in the blanks, rearrange words to form a sentence, and do other activities that target all of the main language skills.

Mondly supposedly draws on neuroscience to make learning more effective, and visuals are constantly used to reinforce words. The exercises also involve a lot of repetition, so new words naturally stick as long as you use the app often.

On the techier side, the app actually has an AR (augmented reality) functionality. You can turn on your phone camera and see a 3D teacher generated on your phone, with your surroundings as the background. Mondly also has extensive English practice tests in partnership with the Oxford University Press.

I’d recommend Mondly for beginners looking to learn basic English for getting around in daily life. 

For a full review of Mondly, click here.

Best for Casual Learning: Duolingo

WebsiteiOS / Android

Summary: Duolingo turns learning English into a game, with quick lessons, streaks, scoreboards, and skill trees.  

Price: Freebest apps for learning english

With Duolingo, it teaches you English from many languages: French, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, and many more languages in the future.

Duolingo is designed to help you learn English quickly. That means if you’ve never learned English before, by using Duolingo about twenty minutes a day, you can probably start to talk in simple English, read a lot of English articles, and listen to some basic English phrases in very little time. It’s really effective.

In each lesson, Duolingo teaches you about seven new words based on a topic—like education, school, science and adjectives. There are exercises you have to do in each lesson. For example, you might have to match new words with a picture, you might have to translate an English phrase back to your native language, and you might have to repeat an English phrase.

Of course, there’s also the problem of forgetting words—Duolingo is really clever because after a while, maybe a week later, it will design an exercise to help you practice words you were weak on. This way, after doing these review exercises a few times, these words become much easier to remember.

As you can see, in such a small English app, with just 10 to 20 minutes a day, you can easily finish all the lessons in Duolingo in around three months. Much less stressful than having to study a lot everyday to learn a foreign language—and academics agree that it’s an effective study technique!

Overall this is one of the best apps for learning English at the beginner levels.

For a full review of Duolingo, click here.

Best for Fun Beginner Lessons: Lingodeer

WebsiteiOS / Android

Summary: Lingodeer takes you from beginner to intermediate through fun, structured lessons with games and short exercises. 

Price: $14.99 / month 

Lingodeer Logo

For a low-key way to study English, there’s Lingodeer, which uses games and short exercises to teach beginner and intermediate learners.

Lingodeer’s similar to Duolingo because both apps have a gamified approach. The difference is Lingodeer has a more goal-oriented curriculum, with lessons that you have to take in order and regular vocabulary and grammar reviews.

English lessons in Lingodeer are available in several languages, including Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Lessons are arranged according to themes, such as sports, weather, parts of the body, and shopping, with more lessons on grammar topics such as passive verbs, conditionals, and gerunds as you get more advanced.

The exercises for each lesson are well-rounded enough that you get to practice your listening, reading, and vocabulary in a single five-minute lesson.

Like the lessons, reviews are also short and sweet, with five-minute quizzes. The app keeps track of vocabulary and grammar that you’ve learned, and you can do personalized practice sessions with these.

Because you can finish both lessons and reviews quickly, maintaining a regular streak takes less effort. It’s also exciting to make progress as you keep unlocking new lessons.

For a full review of Lingodeer, click here.

Best for Practical Topics: Babbel

WebsiteiOS / Android

Summary: Babbel teaches you English through 15-minute lessons that feature realistic conversations, along with optional live classes.   

Price: From $7.50/month

best apps for learning englishBabbel’s focus is teaching you real-life, conversational English. It’s designed to be easy to use every single day, since the courses are split into 15-minute lessons.

You’ll learn and practice with realistic conversations. Babbel can even listen to your voice and help you with your English pronunciation. You can also be sure that you’ll remember what you’ve studied, because Babbel will remind you to review important lessons before you forget them.

One of the coolest things about Babbel is that it helps you find lessons you’re personally interested in.

You can practice English with all kinds of topics that matter to your life, from business to travel. This makes English learning a lot more fun and motivating.

If you like to learn the structure of English naturally (rather than memorizing a bunch of rules) then this will be one of the best apps to learn English grammar for you.

For a full review of Babbel, click here.

Best for Authentic English: Memrise

Website / iOS /Android

Summary: Memrise makes picking up new words easier through games, flashcards, and video examples, with an emphasis on authentic English. 

Price: Free

best apps for learning english

The focus of Memrise is English words, and it uses some creative, funny ways to help you remember what words mean.

And if something’s funny, you can probably remember it better.

Interestingly, Memrise courses are designed by users. So you can see how other English learners picked up these same words you’re learning.

There are over thirteen pages of courses available on the app, from easy ones like “English Irregular Verbs” to more difficult ones like “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens.

Many English learners find learning new words to be one of the most difficult things about the language. American English uses a large vocabulary set in particular.

With Memrise, you have a fun and easy way to remember words that seem foreign to you.

Also, you can also keep track of what you’ve learned. This way, if you forget what a word means, or forget what words you’ve learned, you can just go back and have a look.

A very effective (and funny!) way of learning English words, I recommend this for anyone, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced English learner, who want to expand their vocabulary.

For a full review of Memrise, click here.

Best for Learning English in English: Rosetta Stone

Website / iOS /Android

Summary: Rosetta Stone is an all-around app that teaches you to think and speak in English naturally, without having to translate from your native language. 

Price: Memberships start at about $11/month

best apps for learning english

If you’ve searched online for English resources before, you might have already heard of Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone is probably the most famous method for learning languages.

It’s also very a unique method compared to many others.

Usually, an English app teaches you English with explanations in your native language. For example, if you’re French, you’ll see French explanations of English grammar, or French translations of English words.

But Rosetta Stone doesn’t do that—it teaches you English with English.

So how does it do that?

Rosetta Stone has exercises designed to help you learn basic words, before forming phrases and longer sentences.

For example, you might learn the English words “man,” “woman,” and “park” through pictures. In the next step, Rosetta Stone might try to teach you “A man and a woman is sitting in the park.” You might not know what “sit” means, but you can probably guess it correctly.

Using this method, Rosetta Stone manages to teach you many new English words and phrases without using your native language. It’s a very immersive method that makes it one of the best apps to learn English vocabulary.

I would recommend this if you would like to try learning English without relying on your native language.

Best for Vocabulary: Mosalingua

Website / iOS / Android 

Summary: Mosalingua helps you grow your vocabulary through proven techniques like spaced repetition, starting out with the 1,500 most important words in English as a foundation. 

(Business English)

Price: $4.99

best apps for learning english

Mosalingua is yet another app for learning English using some effective learning methods.

For example, one common problem many English learners face is forgetting a word after some time.

While this is normal for anyone learning a new language, it can also be really frustrating.

Mosalingua tries to solve this problem by using a method called SRS. SRS stands for Spaced Repetition Software, and basically, it’s software that’s designed to help you review words just before you will forget them. So, let’s say you forget a word three months after you learn it. Mosalingua will help you review these words maybe a week or two before you do forget it.

Mosalingua also focuses on 1,500 of the most important words in English for practical and daily uses. So if you’ve just started to learn English, Mosalingua might be a great English app to check out.

Between conversations and flashcards designed with SRS, Mosalingua can be a really good way to help you learn your first 1,500 words in English effectively.

Best for Interacting with Native Speakers: Busuu

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: Busuu is an app with short, well-rounded English lessons that include exercises where you can get direct feedback from native speakers.    

Price: Premium memberships start at about $6/month — Free version also available

best apps for learning english

Busuu is a little bit different than many of the apps we’ve mentioned here. Many apps for learning English we talked about so far are for personal use. For most of the lessons, you go through them yourself. With Busuu, however, you can talk with native English speakers to practice your English speaking.

Each Busuu lesson has some key vocabulary, a lesson dialogue, a writing practice session, a recording session (you practice saying some English out loud), a lesson review, and of course, the part where you can practice with other native English speakers.

With all of these parts, you can practice reading, writing, speaking and listening. It’s a balanced way to learn English.

If you like talking with people, and you want to improve your spoken English, Busuu may be a great English app for you.

For a full review of Busuu, click here.

Best for Audio-Based Learning: Pimsleur

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: Pimsleur brings you audio-based English lessons that follow a curriculum, with quizzes and other activities for review.

Price: Starts at $14.95/month

Pimsleur Logo

Pimsleur started out as a series of audio lessons on cassettes back in the 1950s, and now it’s available as a modern app on your phone. If you’re interested in learning English mainly through listening, you might like the structured curriculum that Pimsleur offers.

Pimsleur consists of 30-minute lessons that you have to listen to at one lesson per day. The pace is important because each lesson repeats words from the previous lessons–you can think of it as a natural kind of spaced repetition, minus the flashcards.

The lessons are built around English dialogues, and the narrator breaks down new words and sounds for you. Although the audio runs on its own, there are plenty of pauses where you’ll be prompted to talk out loud or repeat what the narrator said.

Since Pimsleur has been around for so long, they’ve adapted their English courses based on your native language, with choices like English for Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Arabic, and Korean speakers.

You can technically buy Pimsleur courses from their website, but the app helps you stay motivated because it automatically comes up with the next lesson you have to learn. It also includes interactive exercises like flashcards, quizzes, and conversation activities to round out each lesson. 

Pimsleur’s worth checking out if you’re a beginner or intermediate learner who learns best through listening rather than through reading or visuals.  

For a full review of Pimsleur, click here.

Best for Intermediate Learners: BBC Learning English

Website / iOS / Android

Summary: BBC Learning English regularly releases diverse podcasts and videos for intermediate English learners, from grammar tutorials to news reports. 

Price: Free

BBC Learning English Logo

BBC Learning English is an app and website with tons of entertaining, up-to-date material about the English language.

If you love short, podcast-style lessons that you can listen to on the go, then this might be the app for you. Nearly all of the lessons are for intermediate learners, but they’re starting to branch out to beginners.

BBC Learning English features various programs, which you can subscribe to and follow along as a “curriculum,” but each episode can be standalone. For example, you can watch quick videos that explore everyday English phrases or focus on business English. There are also programs for news, dramas, and serial stories.

The app can also work as a reference. It has one-minute videos that break down every sound in English pronunciation as well as lessons about different parts of English grammar, including subjunctives and narrative tenses.

Each lesson comes with learner notes and transcripts, and there’s usually a quick, three-question quiz after. As a plus, you can download all of the lessons for offline listening.

There are new lessons every day, so it’s worth checking out for intermediate learners who enjoy listening to diverse topics, from leadership to fiction. 

Best for Studying for the IELTS: IELTS Prep

iOS / Android

Summary: IELTS Prep helps you study for the IELTS with detailed tips about the exam, along with practice tests and grammar and vocabulary exercises.   

Price: Mostly free, with some paid practice tests

IELTS Prep App Logo

IELTS Prep is one of the best on-the-go resources as you’re getting ready for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The IELTS is the gold standard internationally for exams that show English proficiency, and it’s often requested if you’re going to migrate, study, or work in an English-speaking country. 

There are plenty of IELTS-related apps around, but IELTS Prep is very reliable because it’s developed by the British Council–one of the creators of the actual IELTS exam. The app itself actually discusses what the IELTS is all about and explains what to expect from the exam. 

The main offering of the app would be its practice exams for each IELTS section: writing, speaking, reading, and listening. The speaking section includes actual video interviews by testers, and the writing section even has model answers so you can have an idea of what examiners are looking for.

When you’re ready, you can take a comprehensive mock exam, which includes all four sections.

Aside from test-taking, IELTS Prep also has grammar and vocabulary lessons for reference. The grammar lessons are especially helpful, with exercises for topics like conjunctions, relative clauses, and verb tenses.

If you’re planning to take the IELTS, then this app is a must-have, even for the realistic practice exams alone. 

 

Final Thoughts on the Best Apps for Learning English

As you can see, there are many ways to learn English–it doesn’t always have to be memorizing vocabulary (the painful way), doing lots of grammar exercises and reading a lot of difficult books.

So if you’re looking for a great way to learn English that’s effective but also fun, I highly recommend these best apps for learning English. Each English learning app is designed for different people, and each app has its own strengths. So depending on what you need, you can try out these apps—I hope you’ll find them to be useful.

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