Fluency Off the Grid: 7 Language Learning Apps with Offline Modes
What if you want to blaze new trails in the wilderness and learn a language?
I’ve tested out these seven language learning apps and am here today to show you how they work offline.
In this article, you’ll get seven resource recommendations as well as some bonus tips along the way.
- How Serious Learning Can Happen Offline
- 7 Language Learning Apps with Offline Modes
- Looking for a Bonus Offline Option? Go Old School with Flashcards!
How Serious Learning Can Happen Offline
It wouldn’t be a bad idea for us all to try going offline once in a while. Studies actually show that some offline time is a healthy thing for everyone.
The good news continues because offline time is perfect to power up language learning. With no distractions—Facebook, Twitter or any of the other internet time-sucking spots—it’s easy to stick to your language learning program.
First, you should prepare by scheduling offline language study time into your day. Many of us already follow a language learning schedule so this might be a simple tweak for you—stick to your schedule, even if your learning resources will change without Wi-Fi.
Then, get excited for this new adventure and the opportunity to explore some different language materials.
7 Language Learning Apps with Offline Modes
So now the big question: exactly what options are out there?
Offline features: Downloadable courses
Memrise is designed to make language education catchy and fun, while comprehensive. Both iOS and Android users will benefit from this download. It provides an offline mode so you can easily continue your practice anywhere.
With Memrise, you follow themed courses (e.g. foundational vocabulary, common expressions, conjugation rules etc.) to learn your language in a logical way. It’s a unique approach to language study but it still packs all of the components we expect from a language program.
As you study you’ll get games, videos featuring native speakers, chatbots and more. You can even record your own pronunciation for comparison with native speech.
Read our full review for more details.
Offline features: Downloadable non-video resources
FluentU brings you immersive language practice wherever you go. It is loaded with authentic videos clips in your target language for all levels, and has audio clips that work offline.
For offline learning, you can download audio clips, flashcards, quizzes and PDF transcripts to keep your practice going anywhere. So even if you can’t watch a video at the moment, you can still learn a language’s vocabulary in context.
If you get back on the grid at some point (no pressure), you can use FluentU’s video library for continued learning. It contains material like travel vlogs, music videos, and news reports in your target language. Each clip comes with interactive subtitles. Click any word you don’t recognize for an instant definition and native pronunciation.
This can help bypass the frustration that can accompany using native-level content to learn on your own, because you can stop and check a word’s meani
FluentU also creates flashcards and personalized quizzes based on what you’ve watched so you don’t forget what you learn. With the quizzes’ written and voice-input options, you can actively practice vocabulary textually and verbally, while naturally absorbing the language as native speakers really use it.
These features can help improve your conversation skills in the real world, making you more comfortable conversing and also more understandable to natives.
There is also a video dictionary, which can be used by typing a word into the search bar. You’ll see what it means, a memorable picture definition, as well as how it’s used in video/written context.
FluentU is currently available for 10 languages, including Chinese, Korean, Spanish, German and French.
While the program is available through the web, you’ll want to download the app on iOS or Android for going offline.
Offline features: Downloadable “language packs”
Google Translate is a workhorse for language learners. It’s available for iOS and Android users.
Personally, I use it all the time. It provides a quick text translation, customizable phrasebook and even translates conversations in an instant.
One of its best features is the ability to get the meaning of a sign, menu or even billboard with the camera translation. Never get lost again—just point at a street sign and wait for the translation. This app is great for travelers!
What you may not realize is Google Translate delivers for offline learning, too. It’s possible to download languages onto your device so they’re available for use even when the device is not connected to the internet. Google Translate’s language packs are available in more than 50 languages.
Some even offer offline camera translation!
Plus, when you’re not actively looking for a translation, this app is perfect for offline vocabulary building.
Naver Papago Translate
Offline features: Basic phrasebook
Naver Papago Translate is a text, voice, conversation and image translation app for iOS and Android users. It’s available for 11 languages, including French, Japanese, Russian, Vietnamese and more.
For offline learning, there’s a phrasebook containing basic expressions. It’s a fun, fast way to boost your communication abilities whenever you’ve got some down time.
When you get back on the grid, Naver Papago offers a full dictionary as well as real-time translations. You can even enable location services and Naver Papago will suggest languages for translation depending on where you are!
In case you’re wondering, papago means “parrot” in Esperanto. It’s a bird with language abilities, so it does seem to be a fitting name for such a useful app!
Offline features: Assorted number of lessons (premium only)
Duolingo is a familiar language-learning program. You may already recognize their fun, green owl mascot Duo, who accompanies learners on their journey from beginner to advanced levels. Available for about 30 languages, this app teaches in small, manageable lessons on both iOS and Android devices.
There’s the voice recognition segment that pulls no punches—when you’ve mispronounced a word or phrase, you’ll be prompted to try again. Have practice conversations with chatbots or join a club with other learners.
When lessons are completed Duo will commend you and tell you how many days in a row you’ve been working on a particular language. This is a fun way to learn a language!
Duolingo’s offline mode includes an abridged number of its lessons. When you’re offline, the progress tracking features will be turned off.
Read our in-depth review here.
Offline features: Just about everything
The Busuu app is an excellent choice, since all its lessons are available offline!
It teaches 12 languages at all levels on iOS and Android platforms. If you’re not sure where you fall on the learning scale, don’t worry! Busuu will give you a placement test to determine the perfect starting point for your language-learning journey.
Busuu’s program is designed to teach you a language through brief but consistent study—just 10 minutes a day. It covers key vocabulary, conversational phrases, grammar skills and even allows for real practice with native speakers.
Read our full review here.
Offline features: Literally everything
50LANGUAGES is a free app for iOS and Android that offers both online and offline resources. It’s geared toward beginners—even those with absolutely no experience—as well as anyone who wants to polish up their language skills. As the name suggests, they cover more than 50 languages.
If basic communication skills are what you’re going for, this is certainly a good choice. You’ll follow audio lessons, which are available to download for offline listening. Other learning materials include language tests and flashcards.
If you want to take your studies pre-internet, print books are available to purchase to supplement the programs.
There are 100 lessons to explore—try listening to a lesson a day!
Looking for a Bonus Offline Option? Go Old School with Flashcards!
Flashcards? They’re not just for kids! In fact, they’re a key component in nearly every language program. They’re a customizable method for building a strong vocabulary.
Most die-hard language students wouldn’t leave home without our language flashcards. Mine are always with me!
Instead of making them yourself, try these fun options.
Travelflips are flashcards that provide basic phrases suitable for everyday use. They come in Spanish, Italian, German and French and are packed in a neat little box that’s perfect for traveling.
I have both the Italian and French cards and love them. I’m hoping they follow up with more languages!
Berlitz also offers a ready-made flashcard option. Their flashcard sets include German, Spanish, French and Chinese.
These are designed with children in mind, but beginning learners of any age would get a vocabulary boost from using them.
Going offline doesn’t have to mean a language program is also turned off.
Put today’s technology to good use to continue your language journey—and keep up the habit of daily language practice! Add an old school option and you’re all set to learn anytime, anywhere!
Good luck! And enjoy your disconnect!