Do you want to learn a new language? Will you be traveling to a new country soon or possibly retiring abroad and want to learn the language? Or maybe you want to learn a second language because you simply want to fulfill a bucket list wish.
Learning a new language in our 50s, 60s, and up has its share of challenges. Our cognitive abilities and memory are not what they used to be, or so we’re told.
I learned a new language in my late 40s and, quite frankly, it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I used several different language mobile apps, along with language classes, and it definitely made it easier and more fun.
Learning a new language in our senior years can be a big feat to take on, but the rewards outweigh the long road it takes to be able to speak another language.
Bilingualism appears to provide a means of fending off a natural decline of cognitive function and maintaining what is called “cognitive reserve.”—The National Library of Medicine
Set reasonable goals for yourself. Learning a new language takes a long time, no matter what age we are. Don’t expect to be speaking French in a matter of weeks.
Set a timer, write it in your calendar, or post a sticky to remind yourself to do a little bit every day. Consistency really is key when learning a new language.
Schedule a certain amount of time that you want to spend practicing your new language. It can be as short as 10 minutes a day, make sure that you do it.
Practice makes perfect and it can’t be truer when learning a new language. You can learn all the nouns, verbs, and adjectives of a language but if you don’t put it into actual practice, it will be more difficult to retain. Find local language exchange groups where you can practice your conversational skills with other people.
The number one reason people give up language learning is because they don’t see progress as fast as they had hoped to see. Don’t give up. It may seem stagnant for a while and then one day you will be having a conversation and realizing that you know words you didn’t know a few months ago.
Here are some of the top-rated mobile apps to learn languages. I have tried each one of them and can say that they have different approaches but all have the same goal – to teach you the language!
Many have free versions, but paid subscriptions get you more features and personalized lessons.
Duolingo is one of the most popular language apps. It has an extensive free platform where you can practice vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and listening skills using the spaced repetition method. The interface is very colorful and a little gamey.
Babbel is another very popular language-learning app. The interface is more serious-looking than Duolingo and is conversation-based learning. The platform has a basic free version and monthly subscriptions start at $6.95/month depending on the subscription you choose.
Memrise is very popular with seniors and is a spaced repetition of flashcards method of learning. The interface is user-friendly and includes video clips of real native people. There is an extensive free version of the app, but you can access the premium features with a monthly subscription or one-time purchase.
Rosetta Stone is a well known language learning company and the app is popular with young and old. When you create an account, you get access to a limited free version and by purchasing a monthly subscription you get full access to all the features.
Busuu starts with a placement test if you already know some of the language you want to learn and places you in the appropriate lesson plan. Like the other apps, there is a free interface and a monthly subscription to gain access to all the features.
It’s good to try a few apps for free to find out which one you are the most interested in. Once you feel comfortable with an app you can think about purchasing a monthly subscription to keep your new language skills sharp.
Have you tried any of these language apps? How was your experience? Do you have any other language-learning apps to suggest? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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