A man stands beside a shop window, fiddling with his phone.
A man stands beside a shop window, fiddling with his phone.

Tim Caynes/flickr

Mobile language apps are helping millions of people across the globe learn more for less, making a serious dent in the traditional publishing and language-learning markets.

Mobile apps aren’t just changing the economy — they’re changing the way we learn foreign languages. Language learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo have become the number one source for digital language education, overtaking established software companies such as Rosetta Stone and Berlitz.

This is only part of a trend towards mobile that’s covering more and more sectors of the economy. According to web design firm GO-Globe, smartphone users spend almost 90% of their time with media on their mobile devices.

It’s not surprising, then, that revenue for apps in 2017 is estimated at $77 billion — especially when you consider that this industry is now a huge component of how people learn and master new languages.

How Mobile Language Apps Work

Mobile apps allow users to practice their foreign verbal abilities on the go. While traditional methods require a time commitment and a stable work place, this new form gives users the freedom to learn as they go about their daily activities, just like they would in a foreign country.

Just download one of these apps onto your phone and you can begin learning a new language one sentence at a time, stopping and starting whenever you please.

“It is a matter of incremental convenience,” says Ed Cooke, founder of the language app Memrise. “Smartphone apps offer a wide selection of content that is more easily accessible, anytime, anywhere.” Mobile language apps aren’t interested in teaching hour-long lessons. Rather, they want the learner to have the agency to decide how frequently and for how long they should be learning.

Some of these apps even have voice recognition features to engage the user through dialogue, simulating the experience of being at a real language class.

Language App’s Global Impact

Language apps have tens of millions of users, stealing customers from big name language software companies. Research firm Ambient Insight claims that the rise of language apps, given that the majority of these apps are mostly free, will cause a decrease of 2.1% to the language learning market by 2018, lowering their revenue to $56.8 billion.

While that number may still look like a lot, this is a huge paradigm-shift for the language-learning industry. Instead of focusing on supplying a large amount of content for a high price, companies must think about how they can make the experience of learning a foreign language both cheap and convenient.

The Future of Language Apps

While a lot is changing in the market, one thing’s for sure: there is now more demand for innovative language-learning apps than ever before. Consumers are looking for that next big development that could put them on the fast-track towards fluency, and you might be the one to create it.

Infinite Monkeys is the perfect resource for people who think they’ve got a great idea for an app, but don’t know how to code. The service offers a powerful app-building platform that requires no programming experience. Create an account and begin exploring their simple drag-and-drop interface.

Before you know it, you’ll be helping customers finally bid “adieu” to the language-learning services of the past.