Learn a language in lockdown

Dreaming of exotic holidays? Well while you wait out COVID-19, why not brush up on a new language. That way, when you’re lounging by the pool in a few months time you can turn to the waiter and say ‘Puedo tomar un coctel por favour?’ and know exactly what it means!

There are quite a few language apps out there, but here are a few of our favourites.


A great starter for both adults and kids, Duolingo is free to download and gives you nearly 100 languages to choose from. Your learning is broken down by topic in a quiz-style, starting with pictures and words, then moving into translation of vocabulary and sentence structure. You’ll get to try your hand at speaking, listening and writing exercises.

There is a premium ad-free option available, but for most people the free version will be enough.


Made by experts, Babbel gives users a way of learning to speak a language naturally and conversationally. The free app lets you choose from 15 languages, offering 40 lessons which cover the basics or focus on topics like travel, culture and business.

Babbel’s Premium version is £12.99 a month which gives you unlimited access to a full library of conversational lessons and personalised courses with daily reviews. They also offer a 7-day free trial when you download the app.


This app’s a little different. With over 20 languages to learn, Memrise uses memes and video clips of native speakers, as well as quiz games, to encourage you to remember the vocabulary.

Memrise do offer a premium option which is £8.99 per month, allowing you to access more functionalities, and as with Babbel, they offer a 7-day free trial when you download the app.


Named after the Busuu language of Cameroon (which is on the verge of extinction), this useful app gives you a choice of 12 languages to learn using interactive quizzes and exercises.

Premium and Premium Plus versions, starting from £69.99 a year, have a lot more content to offer, including study plans, practice with native speakers and certificates for varying levels of proficiency.

Rosetta Stone

With the aim of preparing you for real-world conversations, Rosetta Stone has a free app to teach travellers basic words and phrases that will help them get around. There are also more advanced phrasebooks to purchase covering a wider range of topics.

The premium version of the app costs £43.99 for 3 months of one language, but you can also purchase lifetime membership with unlimited languages for £199.99.

Learning a new language may seem a bit daunting, but with these types of resources you can chip away little by little, whenever you have time (and you couldn’t have more time than during lockdown).

Buona fortuna per imparare una lingua.


  • SMARTY Team
  • April 21st, 2020