Naturally, learning any new language needs to be fun. If it’s not, then studying a foreign language can be a real struggle. The same can definitely be said if you want to study Spanish.
After all, the last thing you want is tables of verbs and language lessons that don’t engage you.
Whilst searching through the best ways to learn Spanish, you have probably come across some great methods. But if reading textbooks and school methods are a bore for you, learn to speak Spanish on your smartphone or tablet!
There are several applications available on the market today on the App Store and the Play Store, each one focusing on a slightly different aspect of learning a language.
Some focus on fluency, others on Spanish vocabulary, whilst others even offer every beginner the chance to get a good grounding in verb conjugation. No matter your age, ability, or end goals, you will find an app for you. So what are the different options available to you?
Tips for beginners learning Spanish will often include the need for a varied approach in order to be able to successfully assimilate all of the aspects of this second language. Language courses are great to get a basis, but you’ll need other ways to make practising at home interesting.
The use of tablets in schools was once a controversial topic, just as the use of computers was 30 years before. It is important to remember that technology is just a tool in the language learning process; they will never replace the cerebral work required in any learning (including the memorisation process).
Yet, it is undeniable that new technologies are an asset to facilitate learning. Especially for one simple reason: learning is always more effective when associated with pleasure. It is proven that pleasure plays an important role in the learning process.
Tablets are an ideal medium for learning Spanish
In other words: we learn much more easily and quickly when we enjoy learning.
Today, learning and pleasure are only associated with young learners. Afterwards, we no longer laugh: seriousness and discipline become the key words. Studying for exams takes precedence.
However, it doesn’t need to always be this way. The success of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) has allowed for the development of applications. The apps are small pieces of software that you download on your iPad tablet or on your smartphone.
There are apps in all areas: entertainment, information, cooking, stock market, etc. For some time now, there has been a boom in serious applications. These are all applications related to learning.
Among them, applications dedicated to language learning are in full swing. It is now possible to learn all the languages you want with iPad apps (or smartphones): from English to Spanish, Chinese to Russian, and Japanese to Arabic.
Learning Spanish on your tablet or smartphone has a huge advantage over traditional teaching methods that can be summed up in one word: flexibility. Learning with an application allows you to manage your schedule and make tailor-made courses.
There are some great books to learn Spanish, but when it comes to practising, you can’t beat an app. Whether you want to learn some new phrases, or polish up on Spanish verbs, there is something out there perfectly suited to your needs.
We have selected our favourite two (Duolingo and Babbel), and in this article we will explain why. But rest assured, because Spanish is a language spoken by around 440 million people, there are a number of other Spanish learning apps available if neither of these two take your fancy.
Duolingo, like most language apps, does not only offer Spanish languages lessons. Duolingo also teaches English, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Danish, etc. Duolingo was named best learning app in 2013.
For many people, Duolingo is the reference point for applications to learn Spanish on your smartphone or tablet. User experiences are rarely negative. “I was able to learn Spanish in two months thanks to Duolingo” is a phrase that is often heard. The praise is very widespread.
Duolingo offers several types of playful exercises to learn the Spanish language in a progressive way. The exercises are grouped into thematic blocks that can be assimilated to lessons. Learning to speak Spanish with Duolingo is a real game, and you have several “lives”.
You can win or lose if you miss an exercise. You are congratulated when you take a step in your Spanish speaking adventure. Everything is done to encourage you in your progress.
And most importantly, learning is very playful. The app uses images extensively to help the learner better memorize what they learn.
Duolingo: an addictive Spanish application?
You could almost say that you “play” Duolingo! Duolingo is a fun and addictive app for learning Spanish grammar, Spanish words, conversational spanish, etc, on your smartphone or tablet without having to call out for a private Spanish teacher. You will quickly learn the useful sentences in Spanish.
If speaking Spanish is about being able to hold a conversation whilst on holiday in one of the 20 Spanish speaking countries, then this could be the app to get you to that level.
Duolingo understood that the essence of learning and memorization resided in the phenomenon of repetition. Learning with Duolingo is certainly progressive, but you never make too big a jump.
The exercises reuse vocabulary words or grammar rules learned in previous exercises. This makes it possible to memorize things well and not forget everything along the way. Repetition is the key to assimilation, and Duolingo has understood this very well.
A very important element that we have not yet addressed is the price. How much does it cost to take Spanish classes on your smartphone or tablet with Duolingo? The answer will satisfy everyone: Duolingo gives you completely free Spanish lessons.
That’s right. You can learn how to speak Spanish without spending a single penny. The founder of the application, Lui von Ahn, assures that it will always remain this way. And the best thing is that there is not even advertising. This will be music to the ears of those of you who want to teach yourself Spanish for economic reasons.
If you opt for a Spanish lesson with a tutor, or a Spanish class at a local language school, you will have to fork out a sizeable amount. Even if you want to learn Spanish online, you might have to pay. This is not the case with Duolingo.
You’re probably wondering how Duolingo makes money? The question is relevant.
The economic model of Duolingo is original. The application, at the end of some lessons, asks you to train yourself by translating parts of texts.
Duolingo finances itself by selling the translations that you carry out with companies. For example, Duolingo works in partnership with BuzzFeed and CNN.
Babbel is another application available on both iOS and Android. Unlike Duolingo, not all of Babbel’s content is free. Whilst there is a free version, it won’t give you access to everything. To do this, you will need to buy a one, three, six, or twelve month pass.
Babbel, developed by Berliners, is an application perhaps a little less playful than Duolingo. Babbel will delight those who want to learn Spanish on their smartphone or tablet, but in a more serious and studious way. Which does not mean you get bored on Babbel. Just like Duolingo, Babbel is available in several languages. No matter which one you choose, Babbel aims to get your conversational quickly.
Besides, one of the advantages of Babbel that Duolingo doesn’t have is that it is possible to learn through multiple channels. When you create an account on Babbel, you can “work” your lessons and Spanish exercises from your tablet, from the Babbel website, or from your smartphone. You can switch from one device to another while still progressing.
The practical operation of Babbel is quite similar to that of Duolingo: the application offers you several “lessons” each time involving fun exercises of vocabulary, grammar, conjugation or pronunciation.
Babbel, like Duolingo, uses the speech recognition system to evaluate the accuracy of your pronunciation. This is a considerable advantage of applications compared to books and other manuals in written form. Obviously using movies to learn Spanish is a good way of training your listening skills, it doesn’t offer the ability to practise the oral aspect in the same way as some apps do.
The use of speech recognition brings a valuable interactive element that plays a lot in the success of these applications.
Babbel’s speech recognition software can help you improve your Spanish pronunciation
The different lessons are organized by level or theme. This allows you to benefit from both progressive and personalized learning.
Babbel adapts to the learning rhythm of each individual person. The application offers a learning path for beginners and another for people who already know the language (deepening course). Babbel therefore addresses all profiles.
Naturally as a beginner, you learn how to count, and some useful words and phrases in order to be able to converse in a basic way. As you progress further towards an intermediate level, the grammar naturally becomes more important.
We could have discussed plenty of other apps to learn Spanish on your smartphone or tablet, notably “Mosa Lingua”.
You should test different applications and then select the one that suits you best. It’s up to you to make your choice. In any case, you will find that you will quickly become addicted. Here is a summary of the advantages of learning Spanish on your phone or tablet:
Learn Spanish almost everywhere!
But be careful, you should not expect to become bilingual in Spanish overnight. To consolidate your knowledge gained through the iPad, it may be useful to take some Spanish lessons with a private teacher.
Typically, applications rarely explain the how and the why. You are told “you have to apply such a rule”, but you’re not explained the way the language works, or the reasons for the rules. E-learning methods are based on intuition. The teacher can allow you to search within some rules and gain a deeper understanding.
So although this is not a full immersion in the Spanish language, if you put a lot of effort in to your exercises, you can become fluent in no time with this method and get an advanced Spanish level.
Get good conversational Spanish by combining this method with private lessons or by speaking with a native speaker you might know. This will get you to be sure that your comprehension of the Spanish language is optimal! This method could also help children with dyslexia learn Spanish.
Taking a Spanish course – or of any other living language – on a smartphone or tablet is certainly not all there is to it, but it is a tool that it would be a shame to deprive yourself of!