Academic Group 2 Subjects

How to optimize third-party language learning apps to master a second language

Language learning apps have surfaced in the last couple of years as an alternative way to learn a new language through short practice sessions and exercises that yield a fun and effective opportunity to build up your vocabulary and develop proper grammar in the language of your choice. One of their many advantages is the flexibility they provide since you can use them when they best work for you and you can advance at your own pace.  This article aims to provide some recommendations to arrange a schedule that maintains a practical and efficient plan for language learning with an app.

First of all, if you don’t have a language learning app at the moment and you are looking for one, these are some of the best rated:

1. Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is a study technique whereby you review information at increasingly longer intervals. This strategy is based on the “Forgetting Curve”,  a visual representation, in which the main premise is that knowledge fades over time, and thus, cramming as much information as possible without further reviews is not effective. Some apps, like Duolingo, use an algorithm to review the accumulated vocabulary in future lessons, but if you don’t have that option, I suggest doing a couple of exercises from past lessons at least once a week, so that you can build a strong set of vocabulary and grammar rules, without the possibility of forgetting them later.

2. Set objectives

Instead of determining the specific number of minutes you will devote to the learning app, try to set a goal for the number of lessons you will do in a day. This will motivate you to actually finish them and will prevent you from leaving the learning experience midway. This option is also more adjustable to your schedule since you can make progress throughout the day during your periods of spare time, with the goal of tackling all the content by the end of the day. Remember, a few regular short periodic lessons a week will always be better than trying to cram it all in one study session!

3. Study in the morning and near bedtime

These are the best moments of the day to create a habit. If you think about it, we all have our morning and night routines. Therefore, trying to set some time apart to practice will transform the session into a more automatic process. Add it to your calendars and create reminders! By using the language learning app during the morning, it will become a top priority in your daily routine and you will gain more motivation to “cross it off” of your tasks. At night, you can also use the apps as a break from your homework, since they tend to be more fun and interactive. Besides, it has also been proven that “the knowledge acquired during the night is reinforced and enhanced after waking up.” (Smithsonian, 2012

4. Transform waiting times into learning opportunities

Take advantage of the flexibility this learning alternative offers! Since the application is within reach of your cell phone, try to make something productive out of downtimes. One of the main dead times you could start eliminating is waiting time. When you are on a car ride, waiting for an appointment, or have little moments with nothing to do, it is the perfect time to do some quick exercises on the app. 

Overall, learning apps offer interactive activities that only take a small amount of time and can be done at any moment; thus they are a fun and effective way to learn a new language. I hope these tips can be helpful to you and wish you luck in your language-learning process, you got this!


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