There's only one way to really master a foreign language: practice. The more you practice, learn, and speak, the better you get and it's crucial that you keep it up on a regular basis. This is why a good mobile app might be the best learning tool for foreign languages yet invented outside of living in a foreign country. To make the most out of it though, you need an app that a) actually works and b) is appealing enough to make you want to use it.
We've all been fooled by a flashlight or mirror app that just doesn't work so I don't have to tell you that there are a lot of crummy apps out there. Surprisingly, plenty of them actually make it onto lists that claim to be the "best apps for X."
With that in mind, I did some research to track down 5 apps that:
1. Actually work
2. Are cheap
3. Are fun and engaging.
Next, as a lapsed French speaker, I road tested them myself. Most of them will be useful for learners at a variety of levels, from beginner to advanced/intermediate. So if you're studying for the December SAT Subject Test in a foreign language, take heed and get your study on with these apps!
Learn Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish
Named one of the best education apps of 2011, people are raiving about these fun, cute, and effective language apps.
Learn French, German, Spanish, Portoguese or English
This free app helps you learn vocabulary with sounds and images, eventually incorporating translation activities to actually translating content on the web.
Learn Spanish, French or Chinese
Brainscape uses a technique it calls Intelligent Cummulative Exposure, in which concepts are introduced in the context of real sentences with material that gets increasingly difficult. The technique was developed by scientists from Columbia and Yale and, judging from the glowing reviews, it seems to be working pretty well.
Learn Spanish, French, English, German, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Turkish, Japanese, and Mandarin
Busuu is an online language learning community that offers interactive language learning exercises and a global community so you can practice with other learners and native speakers from around the world. The mobile app offers the same audio-visual learning exercises from the beginning to intermediate advanced levels for learning on the go. You can submit your writing exercises for correction from native speakers and sync up your progress with your Busuu profile.
Learn Spanish, French, English, German, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Turkish, Swedish, Dutch, and Mandarin
Students are raving about Babbel's app and website. This app has lessons and vocabulary, pronunciation exercises with speach recognition that evaluate your pronunciation, and a responsive review manager that keeps track of where you have trouble.