Posted by: Jack Henry | October 15, 2019

Editor’s Corner: English as a Second Language

Good morning, mes amis, mis amigos, and οι φίλοι μου!
One of the tasks assigned to us editors is mentoring those at Symitar who are in need of some additional help with writing English. Generally, we meet with coworkers who speak English as a first language, but who just need to brush up on a few things. Occasionally, though, we have people who speak English as a second language. Teaching English is really an entirely different task than learning some rules here and there, as many of you bilingual learners know. My goodness, I’ve studied two foreign languages, picked up pieces of a third by spending time in Greece, and you would be shocked at some of the things I’ve said or asked shopkeepers for!
This Editor’s Corner today is for those of you who want a little more help than we can give you with learning English. And it is for those of you, like me, who left high school with several years of whatever language you studied, and yet you would still starve to death in the countries that speak that language. The following information is from an article in Daily Writing Tips, called “The Best Mobile Apps to Learn English.” You can also use them for other languages. I have chopped it down quite a bit to give you the basics, but for more information such as the pros and cons of each, you can click here. The following list is alphabetical, not in rated order. Oh, and all are available on Android™ and iOS, except the one that I marked.

#1: Babbel

Babbel offers bite-sized language lessons, which are connected to one another and work progressively to build up your knowledge. The lessons are engaging and aimed at beginner to intermediate students. [KC – Offers multiple languages.]


Varies, but if you want to pay monthly, it’s $12.95/month.

#2: Beelinguapp

This app is designed to help you to read texts (and to some degree to help you with listening to spoken word). It takes an innovative approach, compared with most other language-learning apps: it shows books and other texts in your native language plus the language you are studying, side by side, and reads out the language you are studying, too. [KC – Offers multiple languages.]


Free, but you’ll need to pay for access to many of the longer texts. (You can pay about $1 per text, or $1.99 for monthly membership, or $24.99 to remove all ads and unlock all current and future texts.)

#3: BBC Learning English

The BBC Learning English app simply brings together lots of different lessons into one place. It includes transcripts and quizzes, and you can watch the videos with subtitles. The lessons appear on the app before they arrive on the website, and there’s new content every weekday. [KC – English only.]


Free, with no ads.

#4: Duolingo

You’ve almost certainly heard of Duolingo, which can help you learn a large number of languages, including English. It’s designed to be fun (and addictive!) with bite-sized lessons and a system where you earn points for correct answers and “level up” once you’re doing well enough. You can earn virtual coins, unlock new levels, and see your “fluency score” rise. [KC – Offers multiple languages.]


Free, but if you want to remove ads and download courses to use offline, you’ll need to pay for Duolingo plus, which is $6.99/month.

#5: FluentU

FluentU takes a different approach to language learning, using videos sourced for YouTube with captions so you can immerse yourself in hearing and understanding the language. [KC – Offers multiple languages.]


Free trial, then $30/month (which includes all languages).

#6: Hello English

This beginner-friendly app has instructions in your native language (with 22 different languages to choose from here). It’s easy to get started with, and you can select your level of English from “beginner”, “intermediate”, or “advanced”. [KC – English only, but as it says, you have instructions available in 22 different languages.]


Free; the pro version is $59.99/year. You can also make in-app purchases for a wide range of advanced features (e.g., access to live tutors.)

#7: Lingbe

Lingbe takes a very different approach to most other language learning apps. Instead of watching videos or matching photos to words, the app connects you with a real native speaker of the language you want to practice. [KC – I think it is for multiple languages, but it is not easy to tell from the website.


Free, so long as you’re happy to act as a teacher of your own language too! You can purchase coins to buy minutes to talk with native English speakers.

#8: Memrise

Memrise is another app with a bit of a difference: it’s a learning platform which has thousands upon thousands of different courses related to language and vocabulary. Most of the courses are created
by users, rather than being provided by Memrise itself.
[KC – Offers multiple languages.]


Free (and doesn’t even have ads) at the basic level. You can pay for a Pro version if you want more features, though, which is $9/month.

#9: MindSnacks:

While it’s aimed at US college students rather than people learning English as a second language, mindSnacks is a great app to try out if you’re already reasonably good at English and you want to improve your vocabulary. Like Duolingo, it takes a gaming approach. The SAT Vocab and Kids’ Vocab apps are both fun ones to try. [KC – Offers multiple languages. Offered for iOS only.]


$4.99 per app (or $19.99 if you want all the MindSnacks apps).

#10: Rosetta Stone

Once the most popular language learning software out there, Rosetta Stone has been displaced for many English learners by other software. Many users still find it really useful, though, especially if they’re travelling. The app links with the full version of Rosetta Stone, which isn’t cheap. [KC – Offers multiple languages.]



Whatever language you choose to study, they recommend a minimum of 10 minutes a day to make progress. I hope some of you are willing to give it a try!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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