That’s right—you, the one who’s staring at that phone like it’s the last chance you’ll have to use it this decade.
Do you have that frightened gleam in your eyes because you’ll soon be traveling to one of the few places without internet access?
Or is it something else? Maybe you’re just trying to unplug, get back to basics, smell the roses…
Whatever your reason for disconnecting, you should know that language learning doesn’t have to stop just because you’re offline.
You don’t even have to say goodbye to that bit of technology you’re holding!
I sense it: you’re skeptical. But I wouldn’t kid you—there really are lots of super ways to keep your language program rolling without Wi-Fi.
Let’s check out the apps (plus some old school bonus ideas) that’ll help you get fluent anytime, anywhere, no internet necessary!
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.
No Internet? No Problem! Great Apps with Offline Language Learning Options
So now the big question: exactly what options are out there?
FluentU is one of the most innovative options on this list, bringing you authentic language practice wherever you go. FluentU provides real-world videos and audio clips in your target language, like movie trailers, music videos, dialogues, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into language learning experiences.
Each video and audio clip comes with interactive subtitles. Click any word you don’t recognize for an instant definition and native pronunciation. FluentU also creates flashcards and exercises based on what you’ve watched so you don’t forget all those new words! It’s a fun way to actively build your vocabulary while naturally absorbing the language as native speakers really use it.
With FluentU, you learn real languages—the same way that real people speak them. FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:
FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.
Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? Hover over or tap on the subtitles to instantly view definitions.
You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s “quiz mode.” Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
The videos and audio are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find something that works for you. Plus, FluentU personalizes the experience by suggesting new content based on what you’ve already learned. It’s flexible but customized learning—everyone has a different experience!
For offline learning, you can download the audio clips, quizzes and PDF transcripts to keep your practice going anywhere!
FluentU is available for the following languages:
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.