Turns Out We All Want to Speak Another Language Right Now

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If you’ve been thinking that now is the perfect time to brush up on your high school–level French or finally start those Japanese classes, you’re certainly not alone. Online language learning is at an all-time high: In fact, just in the month of March, new users on Duolingo increased a whopping 101 percent. When you’re stuck at home, a few lessons in German or Mandarin or Portuguese can satisfy your wanderlust and add some structure to your days.

While learning a language isn’t inherently easy, there are plenty of resources online (many free!) that can help you to do so, no matter what kind of teaching technique you’re looking for. With a little bit of practice every day, who knows? You might just pick up a new skill. Here are our favorite apps to get started.

If You Want It to Feel Like a Game

Duolingo has a cult following for a reason: It has 33 language courses available for English speakers (not including fictional options like High Valyrian and Klingon), and offers lessons in bite-size categories, which makes it easy to squeeze in at least five minutes a day. Plus, the app’s mascot-slash-owl spokesperson, Duo, will hold you accountable.

If You Want to Talk Face-to-Face

Immersion is the best way to learn a language, but when you can’t just pick up and move to a different country (or even take a class IRL), Tandem is the next best thing. The service will help you find someone who speaks the language you’re trying to learn and who wants to learn the language you speak. You’ll help each other practice over in-app video chats and texts, and you might even become friends in the process. Consider it an alternative to yet another Zoom happy hour.

If You Want to Get the Kids Involved

Maybe you’re homeschooling for the first time or looking for some extra ways to keep the little ones entertained—in that case, Conjuguemos can help. The site is typically used by teachers but is currently available for free. With materials available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Latin, it’s full of games, practice quizzes, and bonus materials that align with popular textbooks, so you can mix up your lesson plan to prevent boredom.

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Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.