It’s one of the biggest obstacles for language learners.
I’ve got all the right books… tons of vocabulary flashcards… I’m signed up for an awesome online course…
But I can’t find anyone to actually speak with!
If you’re learning a language solo and don’t live near native speakers of your target language, you’re probably sick of gabbing to yourself.
Luckily, technology provides a solution.
Thanks to increasingly advanced speech recognition software, there are apps that can give you instant feedback on your speaking and pronunciation skills.
Here are the six best apps for language learners with speech recognition, so you can get talkin’ at any time!
Why Use Speech Recognition for Language Learning?
First of all, using speech recognition can help you fine-tune your pronunciation. When you practice speaking independently, it can be difficult to hear what you’re doing wrong, so having an app that can pinpoint problems is a useful way to determine what you need to work on.
Additionally, speech recognition isn’t intimidating. Since you aren’t working with a real person, you won’t be embarrassed if you make a mistake. Practicing with an app can make you more confident in your skills and eventually take away some of the intimidation factor of talking with actual native speakers.
Finally, speech recognition apps provide a flexible study option. You can get speaking practice whenever you want, without needing to schedule time with your conversation partner.
That means you can cram in a little extra speech practice whether you’re waiting in line at the store, relaxing in bed or even in the shower (just make sure your phone is waterproof first).
6 Language Apps That Use Speech Recognition for Well-rounded Learning
If you’re anxious for this kind of speaking practice, you’re the type of language learner who enjoys immersive learning (surrounding yourself with the real spoken and written language). FluentU is a great option for at-home immersion to round out the speaking skills that you’ll build with the apps below.
All the videos are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s easy to find something that works for you. It’s a fun way to actively build your vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills while absorbing your target language the way native speakers really use it.
Check out the full video library for free with a FluentU trial, and then test your speech on the new words you find there with the apps below!
Need some conversation practice? Mondly might be the supportive, non-judgmental conversation partner you’re looking for.
Mondly’s main focus is on helping you learn common words and phrases that you can use in real-world situations you’re likely to encounter.
After helping you remember key words and start putting together phrases, Mondly will put your speaking skills to the test with a simulated conversation. You’ll hear a prompt spoken by a native speaker. The words and their translations will also appear on the screen. From there, you’ll have a list of options for replies you can actually say into your device.
Mondly’s speech recognition aims to improve your pronunciation by listening to your words and phrases and giving you feedback for correct, clear speaking.
Mondly offers more than 30 languages, including common options like Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. However, Mondly also offers less common options, like Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Persian and more.
If you don’t have much time but want to pack in a lot of language learning, you might want to try Babbel.
Babbel aims to teach you a language in 10- to 15-minute daily lessons. It covers popular topics, like business, travel, shopping, dining and transportation, to ensure that the skills you learn are likely to be usable in the real world.
Babbel’s speech recognition feature appears during vocabulary review. You’ll see the written word and its English meaning and you can also play an audio pronunciation. From there, you have the option of speaking the word yourself. Your goal is to emulate the pronunciation you heard.
If your pronunciation is good, you’ll get a new word. If not, you have four more chances before the app moves on regardless of your pronunciation.
Babbel offers 14 languages, including Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian and English.
While AudioNote isn’t designed for language learners, it could be your secret weapon for perfecting your pronunciation.
AudioNote’s main focus is (you guessed it) taking audio notes. This means that you speak into your device while the app jots down what you said.
For language learners, this provides a quick way to see if your pronunciation is clear enough for the app to understand what you’re saying. If the transcription isn’t accurate, you may not be speaking clearly enough.
One of the features that’s perhaps most useful for language learners is the linking of audio and text. You can play back the audio you spoke as the app highlights the transcription to show where you’re at. This makes it easy to pinpoint which (if any) words you mispronounced. You can also tap your notes if you want to hear specific words you said.
AudioNote is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Got an extra 10 minutes today? Busuu can help fill it with language learning goodness.
Not only will Busuu provide you with grammar lessons, vocabulary practice and conversations with native speakers, but it can also help you improve your accent with speech recognition exercises.
In these exercises, you hear a native speaker and repeat after him/her. Then, the app will tell you if you pronounced the prompts correctly.
Levels range from beginner to fluent. Busuu offers 12 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
Sure, Rocket Languages offers plenty of interactive materials to help you learn a language. Sure, it’s designed to be flexible so you can learn at your pace in whatever time you have available. But let’s get to the juicy stuff: the speech recognition activities.
Rocket Languages offers speech recognition for thousands of phrases. You’ll be presented with a written word or phrase and its English translation. For languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet, there’ll also be a transliteration listed to make things a little easier for you.
Then, you can speak that word or phrase and the app will give you feedback on your pronunciation.
Rocket Languages offers 12 foreign languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic and Japanese.
If you’re into language apps and/or software, chances are you’ve heard of Rosetta Stone. Probably a lot. But don’t stop reading just yet!
Rosetta Stone has a lot to offer for language learners, so it should come as no surprise that their app offers some top-notch speech recognition. In fact, their speech recognition comes complete with its own registered trademark name: “TruAccent™.”
It aims to help you perfect your accent by practicing common words and phrases and reading short stories aloud.
This technology not only checks to make sure the words and phrases you used are correct, but it also compares your speech to that of a native speaker to provide you with an instant assessment of which words you pronounced well and which could use some more work.
You can even compare the wavelengths of your audio to that of the native speaker, for super-precise adjustments. Plus, Rosetta Stone will track your progress and let you see how your pronunciation has improved over time.
Rosetta Stone offers over 20 languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French and German.
So speak up with these six apps with speech recognition!
And One More Thing...
If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU.
With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. 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 your mouse over the subtitles to instantly view definitions.
You can learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU's "learn 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 gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You get a truly personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.