If I can teach myself a language for free, entirely with nothing but a smartphone, then so can you!
Nowadays, with the variety of language-learning apps available, there’s really no excuse to not know English well.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there are many free apps out there, designed to simplify different aspects of the language for you.
They also make it fun and convenient for you to learn!
In this post, you’ll find a list of the best free English learning apps out there!
How to Make Use of Free English Learning Apps
Keep these tips in mind, before you begin downloading and learning.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Try to figure out where your weak points are and download apps that target those areas specifically. For instance, if you can read and understand English but have difficulty speaking it, choose an app that lets you converse with native speakers.
- Don’t download too many apps: You may be tempted to download every app on this list, but trust me: that never works out. Go through this post, make a list of apps that seem good and then choose only one or two to start with.
- Turn on notifications: Make sure you set reminders on your phone to study at least a bit every day.
- Take notes: Write down important details, grammar rules and interesting words in a notepad. Go back and read the notepad from time to time. The more you revise, the more you’ll remember.
Using the FluentU App to Learn English
FluentU may just be one of the greatest language-learning apps out there.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Free English Learning Apps That Make ESL Practice Convenient and Cheap
In this post, I’ve sorted the apps under different subheadings, so that you can choose the right app, depending on which areas you want to focus on.
Building a really strong foundation in English grammar is important. It’ll help you to communicate better and with more confidence. Here are some great apps for grammar practice.
Hello English: Learn English (iOS/Android)
Hello English is a beautiful app, especially great for people who are just starting to learn English.
This app has detailed English grammar tips. Plus, they provide a chat helpline where you can directly ask questions to teachers. It’s brilliant for non-native speakers from all around the world because you have the option to learn English from over 20 languages, with the help of accurate translations.
The app comes with state-of-the-art speech recognition software, an audio dictionary, interactive lessons and even some games. Not only will you end up learning English grammar pretty fast, but you’ll also build a strong base in speaking, reading and listening. Your vocabulary will improve as well.
English Grammar Book (iOS/Android)
Sometimes, the best approach to learning grammar rules is to follow a textbook. If this sort of learning suits you, then the English Grammar Book app is the right app for you.
You can choose to browse by topic or by difficulty level. The explanations for each subject are very simple and easy to understand. And unlike a traditional grammar book, you get points and medals for completing levels and quizzes.
The more words and phrases you know, the better you’ll be able to express yourself in English. So, check out some of these vocabulary-focused apps.
Do you love adventure games and going on quests? How amazing would it be if learning a language was similar to setting out on a journey to discover a hidden treasure?
Well, Memrise is designed to make you feel just like that. Created like a game, Memrise is a pretty good app for learning useful and everyday vocabulary that you can immediately use in conversations.
Memrise has a paid subscription option, but the free version is good enough for all your vocabulary needs!
Word of the Day – Vocabulary Builder (iOS/Android)
When I was in school, my English teachers advised me to learn at least one new word daily. So every day, I would make time to choose a random number and open the dictionary to that page and learn a word from there. That habit really served me well.
Well, now there are countless apps that’ll help you do just that. With these apps, you’ll learn a new word a day, along with its synonyms (words that mean the same thing) and opposites. Word of the Day is great because it also shows you how to use the vocabulary word in context.
By the end of the year, you’ll have learned over 365 new words, from just one app alone!
Now that the grammar and vocabulary bits are already taken care of, it’s time to focus on your speaking skills.
Unless you practice speaking English with someone else, you aren’t likely to improve much. And if you’re having difficulty finding the right expert or study partner, there’s an app to save the day.
On HelloTalk, you can look for native speakers in English and communicate with them, via text, voice and video messages, for free. You can also ask them questions related to language and culture. You never know: you might make a wonderful friend in the process of practicing English.
Does the idea of chatting with a friend and learning a language sound like a dream to you?
In that case, you need to download Speaky. You simply choose a language and your current level. Then, find a partner with the right profile for you. You can find people who are online and begin talking to them right away!
And once you’ve gained confidence, you can offer to teach languages you’re fluent in. This means you can use Speaky like a language exchange!
Reading and Listening Apps
Developing strong reading and listening skills is very important. The easier it is for you to read and understand English, the more fluent you’ve become!
Voice of America (iOS/Android)
If your main focus is American English, then this app is a must-download.
The app provides a wealth of listening material in the form of stories and news reports. The speed is pretty slow, which will help you follow along. Voice of America also has audio transcripts that are automatically highlighted (like a Karaoke screen). This will help you follow the audio.
Try spending 10 or 15 minutes on this app each day, and both your language skills and knowledge of American culture will quickly improve.
Book Dash (Android/online)
Reading children’s storybooks is a marvelous way to improve language skills and have fun. This app offers over 200 African storybooks, entirely free. The books are written and illustrated by a team of volunteers. So, if you read these stories, you’ll support a great volunteer project as well as improve your reading skills.
Accessing the stories isn’t difficult, since they are available online or on an Android app. (They are working on creating an iOS app.) Moreover, the uniquely African stories will introduce more diversity into your learning curriculum.
Many people have a passion for writing because it’s a wonderful way to express yourself. Why not try writing in English? However, good writing takes effort and will only come to you if you read and write a lot.
Grammarly Keyboard (iOS/Android)
If you’ve been scared to express yourself because you’re scared of making mistakes, then you need this special keyboard in your smartphone. It’ll alert you when you make mistakes. Grammarly can help you correct punctuation and even find the right words for a particular context.
Whether you have to write an email to your boss or text a friend in English, Grammarly will help you type with confidence. And if you keep track of your mistakes and try to avoid repeating them, you’ll notice your writing skills will improve too.
Prompted Journal (iOS/Android)
When I was very young, my parents encouraged me to keep a diary and write down my own thoughts. That habit helped me express my emotions and learn about myself. It also helped me become a better writer! To practice your English writing, try keeping an English diary and writing in it regularly. This will encourage you to “think” in English and find better ways to express your thoughts.
However, it can be difficult for you to get started. In that case, Prompted Journal’s app is the perfect solution. The app provides you with many ideas and topics to write about. Just pick one and write a paragraph or two each day.
If you’re interested in improving your English, the first thing you need to do is identify your weak spots and focus on them. Choose an English app that addresses the area you need to work on. Then download the app and start learning right away.
The best part is you can learn everywhere that you take your phone thanks to these free English learning apps. Be sincere, revise often and practice as much as you can. You’ll be fluent in no time!
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.