Taking a cruise is one of the best ways that most of us can imagine seeing the world. You get to experience a variety of new places that you might otherwise not be able to see. When you are taking the time to really visit someone else’s home, one of the most gracious things you can do is learn a bit of their language so that you can speak to people there in their native tongue. This adds a completely different dimension to any port visit, and can really change how you view the area as well.
Even though a basic level of knowledge is fine, more is always better when it comes to knowing their language. Fortunately, there are many apps that make this language learning process a far less frustrating affair than it was when you last learned a language in school. Here are the three best apps that we have found to dramatically speed up the language learning process and get you ready for your next trip.
1. Hello Talk (Free)
Regularly talking to someone who knows the languages that you are trying to learn has been the best way to learn a new language for centuries, and Hello Talk makes it possible do that no matter where you are. Yes, that even means that you can use this service when you are in your cabin!
The core focus of Hello Talk is on conversing with native speakers of the language that you are trying to learn, and they have taken great pains to make it easy to do no matter what your internet speed is (which is key when you’re on a cruise). They use a global infrastructure of 70+ data centers, courtesy of video chat company Agora.io, to make sure that your video calls are crystal clear and stable, no matter what.
What makes their service that much better are the features that they add to improve the conversation and turn it into a better learning experience:
- Voice to text – Turning your (and your partner’s) voice into text so that you can easily read back the conversation.
- Grammar correct – Real time grammar correction that allows you to get real time feedback on your grammar and make immediate corrections.
- Transliteration – A process that makes learning non-Roman languages (Chinese/Japanese) easier by translating the characters.
What this adds up to is a great language learning experience, done the way that most people have been learning languages for centuries. It also means that you can ask questions of someone who lives there, giving you a completely new insight into the country and culture, before your ship even arrives in port.
Available on iOS and Android.
2. Memrise (Free, $49/yr Premium)
The goal of Memrise is to make language learning fun by introducing words to you in a more game-like setting. They claim that you can learn up to 44 words an hour, which is impressive, but what is just as impressive is the scope of the languages that they offer.
Memrise currently offers more than 100 languages in their catalog, and with many of these courses being created by users it means that there are always more courses and languages being offered. It is one of the best ways to learn less popular languages like Icelandic, and because it is taught by native speakers it actually gives you words that are used by people in the country that you are visiting.
Where Memrise falls short is with offering actual conversations, which for many are a better way to learn languages. For that, you would have to use this in tandem with Hello Talk to get the best of both worlds.
Available on iOS and Android.
3. Brainscape (Free, iOS only)
Brainscape is a great way to learn languages with flashcards. Flashcards might seem like an old-school way to learn a language, but Brainscape brings them into this century by introducing new features that make them actually useful.
One of the best features that you get is their intelligent repetition feature, which prioritizes the flashcards that you see and focuses on items that you have gotten wrong in the past. Flashcards that you completed correctly will still be available, but they are reintroduced less frequently, giving you more opportunities to test yourself on items or concepts that you need additional help with.
Learning a language can be the best way to interact with locals in the ports that you visit, and it’s also a great way to get more out of each trip. Are you traveling anywhere in the future? If so, what language have you been most interested to learn before you go?