It has come to my attention that a significant number of traffic to this blog comes from Poland. I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me. I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time in Poland, “teaching English” (I use this term loosely) to people looking to improve their conversational skills.
Over the last few months, I’ve spent around 800 hours (yes I worked it out) practising idioms, pronunciation and general conversation with around 200 people, and during this time I’ve discovered that the main obstacle for people wanting to improve their fluency in English is the lack of opportunities to speak English in their daily lives.
As soon as people leave the classroom, or end the Skype call, they cease to speak English and their conversational skills turn stale.
Luckily, it’s 2018 and there are a tonne of helpful Smartphone applications that are designed to make learning English easy. From increasing your vocabulary to conversing with native English speakers, there is an app to suit your needs.
So, without further ado, here are my 12 BEST Apps for Learning English!
Duolingo is one of the most popular language apps on the market, and for good reason. Working with the idea that 20 minutes of language practise a day is enough, Duolingo offers speaking, listening, writing and reading exercises in a quick and easy format that you can complete in less than 20 minutes.
As you work through the exercises, your “skills” increase, allowing you to unlock new topics, but if you stop practising, they decrease again. This is great as it helps motivate the user to practise every day in order to keep their “skills” as high as they can be.
Memrise is an app that features thousands of “native speaker videos” where you can see the English language used in real life situations. It also features lots of games aimed at expanding vocabulary by repetition.
It also features “chatbots” designed to help people increase their conversational skills.
Busuu is an app that can be used by people of all levels, from beginner to advanced. Not only does it have a heavy focus on writing practise and tests, but it also offers the opportunity to talk with native English speakers to improve overall fluency in everyday situations.
As the name may suggest, Learn English Grammar focuses on improving grammar in a detailed way. Learn English Grammar features 12 separate grammar topics with 20 activities per topic – plenty to keep you busy for a while!
Babbel helps to improve basic conversational skills by completing and repeating set phrases. It uses sound recognition, picture recognition, spelling tests and fill in the blanks to provide users with a varied approach to learning English.
Improve English uses word games to practise and learn new phrases as well as vocabulary. This is the perfect app for those who don’t have much free time as you can just pick it up when you have a few spare minutes without needing to commit to a proper English lesson.
Another one for those pushed for time, Two Minute English is an app with almost 400 two minute videos on almost every topic imaginable! You can watch videos on social English, business English, travel English and common mistakes, as well as idioms, phrasal verbs and much much more.
This app is designed for people that need to conduct business in English. It features information on how to conduct meetings, give presentations, negotiate successfully, network with foreign business associates and communicate effectively via telephone.
This app is really useful for those that work in multinational companies who need to improve their business English quickly.
LearnEnglish Podcasts is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve their listening skills. It features a list of podcasts that will allow you to improve your English while on the go.
LearnEnglish Sounds Right is the British Council’s first pronunciation chart for English language learners. Just tap on a sound and you will hear it, alongside some examples of how the sound is pronounced in a variety of different words.
BBC 6 Minute English is a fantastic tool for anyone that wants to improve their overall fluency and vocabulary. With an almost unlimited array of topics, BBC 6 Minute English features 6 minute videos (accompanied by a transcript) and a list of questions about the themes discussed in the video.
I particularly like this app as the range of topics is so wide that not only does it never get boring, but you will learn some extremely complex vocabulary which will enable you to talk about much more than the typical “weather/family/business” conversations that you probably know inside and out. With 6 Minute English, you will be so engrossed in the topic that you will almost forget that you are learning English!
Tandem is unique in that it is almost like a social media application. With Tandem, you find a person who wants to practise their skills in your language, and whose language you want to improve in.
Let’s use the Polish/English example: you find a native English speaker who wants to practise their Polish and the two of you can communicate with each other in both languages, correcting each other when necessary.
Tandem allows users to speak in text conversations, audio calls, video calls and audio recordings. You can even pay a few dollars and talk to qualified tutors! The great thing about this app is that it doesn’t focus at all on grammar – just pure conversation, which in my opinion is key to becoming fluent.
And that’s it!
These applications are the best ones that I found that will help you to improve your English. Although the vast majority of them are free, some of them have the option to pay a little to unlock extra lessons, learn without access to the internet and remove advertising.
I really believe that consistent practise is the key to learning English, and all of these apps enable you to practise English even if you only have a few minutes of time each day.
Have you ever used any of these apps to learn English? How have they helped! Maybe you have found some more apps that help you with your English? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!