Apps to learn languages this summer

apps to learn languages

Apps to learn languages this summer.

Welcome to the 5-week Linguist Show. We’re talking about language learning during the summer, and the summer where maybe we’re not going abroad as we had planned. So I wanted to share with you some hacks to learn languages anywhere. As I’ve shared with you, I have really missed traveling. I’ve really missed going abroad to learn languages and this summer is no different. I’m traveling some, but really it’s out of necessity. I’m not spending the five weeks in Italy I wanted to do last year, and that’s fine. There are alternate ways to learn languages during the summer when you can’t travel, and the upside of that is that you can save a lot of money, which is great. And I’m just going to share with you a few great apps to learn languages this summer on your phone and enjoying yourself at the same time.

Apps to learn languages this summer: Pimsleur

So, my number one app right now, anytime that I’m in the A or B level, novice or intermediate, is Pimsleur, and I’ve talked about it. I think the app came out maybe a year ago, or a year or two ago, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s not cheap. I think it’s $19 a month, but for me it’s worth it because it’s highly effective and I use it a lot. Right now I’m reviewing my Japanese. I lived in Japan for five years. I was never a super-strong speaker. I never became an intermediate-level speaker. I never moved into that B-level despite living there for a long time. I lived in a very non-Japanese environment and I was teaching Spanish all day. So for me, I used to practice my Japanese, listened to my Japanese in the car, and I had very few opportunities to actually use it when I was out and about because I wasn’t out and about. I was at work, home, work, home, work, home, and it was those weekends when I could go around and practice my Japanese.

And they never really became strong. My life just really wasn’t… I had to really seek out those opportunities to interact with native speakers despite living in Japan. They would be really short interactions. With that said, Pimsleur really worked. Pimsleur’s amazing. Pimsleur’s a half-an-hour, and right now I’m reviewing my Japanese and I’m determined to get out of the intermediate level. I may aim for B2, I’m not really sure exactly how far I’ll go with it. I don’t think that I’m going to go super far with Japanese, and in part, because to really, really advance in a language, you really do need to do it lot of reading to really get up to those upper levels.

During my time in Japan I learned that just to be able to read the Shimbun, the newspaper, because they have four different writing systems. I mean, you had to have a very high level of education just to be able to do that, where in the United States most newspapers are written to a fourth grade level because they’re meant to be accessible to everybody. So I really don’t see myself, with all of my commitments, really investing the time to really move forward in Japanese. I will be very happy to advance through to be a high B1, a low B2. I think I’ll be really happy, and I’ll keep you updated on all of that.

Apps to learn languages this summer: podcasts

My next app is anything that you use to listen to podcasts. I love Spotify and I love Apple Music, and I’m going to link to some podcasts I had researched to learn different languages. I tend to talk a lot about my languages, the ones that I’ve studied so I can be a little bit more informed about what I share with you, but oftentimes I find that these resources will lead… As you’re searching for these things you’ll start getting more suggestions for other ones or other languages. These tools will know what you’re looking for so will serve you good suggestions.

Apps to learn languages this summer: video conferencing

Skype or anything that allows you to connect, and FaceTime, Google Hangouts. I would also say, actually, Google Hangouts is gone, isn’t it? So, any way that you can connect. I think if you have Gmail you can have a Google Meet and ideally record. I have an app that records my Skype calls, and this is to be able to get on italki.

Last summer instead of going to Italy I had to stay home and I did five weeks of italki and I had two amazing, amazing tutors. I studied four or five days a week for half-an-hour. I did my Italian lesson. It really helped my confidence. I’m going to link below to one of my lessons from last July when I was finishing up my Italian for the summer, just so you can see how it works. As you see, she’s doing more of the talking, which is great because I’m learning a lot from her, but I’m also responding. So, you can do that, too, and if you’re just an absolute beginner, you can do it on Skype. I recorded this maybe on Skype, but any of these tools that allow you to basically video conference and record will work. Absolutely.

My community tutors were amazing. I learned so much Italian. I truly enjoyed it. Obviously, I wasn’t walking around Milan or Rome or Sicily doing these things that I had envisioned, really being confident. But my Italian improved and improved quickly, and I really credit the patience of these teachers and italki for connecting me with them. I actually think italki has an app, but regardless, I use other apps’ video conferencing to be able to talk to people.

Apps to learn languages this summer: recording

I want to talk about, also, Voice Memos or anything that you can record yourself. Now, that really fast way to accelerate your progress is to do something akin to what you’re seeing me do on italki if you watch the video. Talking to a native speaker. I’m using my limited Italian and she’s giving me a lot of input back. And I’m getting to keep that. That’s advancing my skills. I’m responding to her. It’s all very natural. That’s the way to make fast progress. You can do things like… Not just in that context. Another way to really accelerate your progress is to document yourself. So, as you can see, documenting your lessons, recording them, is a great way, but using Voice Memos.

I think that regularly recording yourself, as awkward as this will feel at first, is really powerful, and I love doing this. I think teachers, this is a great idea, too. So, documenting, getting people comfortable with talking and then recording themselves to where they get to the point where they’re not self-conscious at all about what they’re saying or about it being recording. When they get where they don’t care, that’s exactly where you want them to be because then they’ll just start talking. They’re not going to be self-conscious. Nothing terrible happened when they recorded themselves, and if you have any reservations about listening to yourself, don’t worry because you don’t have to listen to yourself.

Listen to yourself in a year and think, “Wow, I made some amazing progress.” But it’s really great that it gets you… If you say, “Okay, I’m going to record myself for five minutes about a certain topic,” maybe bullet point out what you’re going to talk about. I like to do that when I’m an absolute beginner. I take my phrase books, I take my task notebooks that I’ve made, and I write it out. I practice dialogues. And then as I don’t need those tools anymore, I use a fluency talk. I just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, and try my best to express myself for a certain amount of time. And it really works.

So whatever voice app you want to do will really help. You can also write these out in an old-fashioned notebook. That works, too. But I find that kind of tedious at times to write for long periods of time. I find it a lot easier to speak, though I do like the writing as well, but I don’t do it as frequently as I speak. So I’m going to leave you those podcast resources and links to some of those apps. So, again, with simple phone you can make so much progress. What are you going to do over the next five weeks for language learning? Let me know. Until next time.

Thank you for listening to the 5-Week Linguist Show with Janina Klimas. Join us each week here and visit us at, for more resources for learning and teaching languages.


Leave a Comment