Top Contenders for the English Crown
From Rosetta Stone’s ubiquitous initial marketing campaign to DuoLingo’s millions of users around the world, learning English has never been such a well-assisted task. The apps for both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone are polished, high-end experiences that offer multiple languages, with English being just one of their diversity of options.
However, below you will also read about comparatively less-known apps Hello English and ABA English. In contrast to the previously-mentioned apps, these are apps dedicated to teaching you English and English only.
Rosetta Stone is a complete language-learning package with English as one of its 18 language-learning options. Purchasing a subscription for Rosetta Stone will give you the language suite in all its glory: the PC program, online access, and most importantly, the mobile app. The cost of the subscription equates to around $6.99 per month for the 24-month option, working out at around £239 for the entire 24 months.
Yes, this is a costly piece of software, but in terms of content, design, and overall immersion into the language, Rosetta Stone is virtually unmatched. The app presents you only with words and phrases in the chosen language – in this case, English – offering you pictures to teach you phrases and grammar, as well as a range of other media such as speaking into the app to ensure that you are learning to speak the language, not simply comprehend it.
Rosetta Stone is often criticised for its price, with people often recommending cheaper alternatives like Mango Languages. However, in terms of learning outcomes, complete immersion in the language, design and polish, and overall content, Rosetta Stone still beats even the free-to-use Duolingo as the overall best English language learning apps.
There is a reason that Duolingo is used by multiple millions of language learners across the world. It is arguably the most intuitive language-learning app available today. Its interface is glossy, smooth, and a pleasure to use, and its game-like approach makes learning a new language extremely addictive. This app simply has the “fun factor” to an extent that its competitors do not. For English learners, this app should certainly form part of the learning process since it contains a heap of content and will ease you in with its gently-graduated difficulty scale.
The content is split into a “learning tree”, with each section requiring completion to a certain level before moving onto the next. You will begin with the absolute basics, move on to common phrases, and then get introduced to food, drink, items, and more complex conversational aspects of the language. Its approach involves selecting from multiple-choice questions to complete certain phrases, translating whole words, phrases, and sentences from scratch, and even speaking into your microphone to ensure you are learning the correct pronunciation of the language.
Perhaps most impressively, this app uses an algorithm that picks up on the words you are struggling with the most. Based on this data, it then encourages you to work on the aspects of the language that require the most work. This approach is truly impressive. Its game-like structure makes learning the language extremely addictive. Being able to set an Experience Points goal means that you are further encouraged to put in the work, with the leader board/league feature providing even more motivation. Most impressively of all, this app is entirely free to use, with very little (if any) content hidden behind a paywall.
The Digital English Academy’s dedicated learning English app, ABA English, is packed content that is delivered in a multi-angled fashion using a well-rounded selection of media. It is an app that looks and feels more polished and intuitive than Hello English, and its content is also more diverse with the lessons using a more balanced approach, too.
The lessons are primarily video-based, with each of the modules - these range from beginner to the advanced “Business English” section and are subject to gradual increases in difficulty as you make progress – start off with a video clip of a conversation on a subject. Each video is followed with a section that demonstrates the app’s impressive multimedia approach. You are asked to speak relevant words and phrases into the app in order to check your pronunciation, as well as the app testing your writing skills, followed by a video lesson from a qualified teacher, and even a vocabulary section. The assessments at the end of each unit allow you to check and re-check your progress, too, which is a vital part of the English-language learning process.
This app is intuitive and easy to use, has a very respectable collection of content, and presents its lessons cleanly, as well as utilising various forms of media to convey this content. One of the main reasons that this app isn’t higher this top English learning apps list is that much of the content – particularly in the upper levels of difficulty – is hidden behind a pay wall and requires you to pay a subscription of £19.99 per month, which is far from the much more admirable ethos of Duolingo or other free English-learning apps.
Hello English is by no means short on content. Games, Lessons, Videos, Conversations. Split into interactive lesson units. Some gamification (less so than Duolingo, but the games provide a nice change in tempo from the standard, non-timed lesson modules by putting you under pressure to think about answer English-language questions and translations correctly).
Extra features that supplement the standard lesson modules include the innovative “News” section, where you are presented with various English news stories and must answer questions on the content. The app also utilises audio in order to surround you with the way the English language is spoken; there is also interactive video content and lessons that make use of voice recognition.
However, the reason this app has not appeared higher on the list is that the entire experience feels significantly less polished than the 3 other competitors on the list. It isn’t a clunky app by any means – it compares a little with Speechling, only with a less-intuitive design - but it feels less refined. Nor does this app match up with the content of Rosetta Stone, the smooth design and gamification of Duolingo, or the slick and content-rich feel of ABA English. However, its admirable content, relative ease of use, and assessments/certifications certainly ensure that learners can track their progress and work towards the outcomes that they want.