Language-Learning on the IPhone

Language Learning on the Iphone. You want to learn a new language, and you're a Blind or Visually-impaired IOS User. So where do you start? Here is a compilation of apps that can help you out.

  • Duolingo: A game primarily useful for vocabulary-building and sentence-structure, Duolingo is a fully-accessible Iphone App, featuring exercises in listening, speaking, and writing, that will help you with your vocabulary building and grammar. It works like a role-playing game, since your avatar/character can level up, and gain virtual currency which you can then spend on virtual accessories for your avatar, or language-learning power-ups. It is free on the app store.
  • Word Reference: An essential dictionary/translator for anyone interested in languages. The app features translations from english to spanish, french, german, and italian, is fully accessible, and free on the app store.
  • Living Language: A digital adaptation of the textbooks of the same name, Living Language is an intuitive language-learning course, covering grammar, vocab and dialogs. Though most of the app's features are fully accessible, the sentence-builder and multiple-choice exercises are not. Despite this, the app can still be used effectively without these exercises. The app contains courses for German, French, Spanish, Greek, Hindi, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, and Russian. Each language is a separate app, and offers a free version. A full version of each language costs 10 USD.
  • Human Japanese: An excellent text-book-style course for Japanese, covering everything from writing the characters, to grammar. It is fully-accessible with Voiceover, and though some of the buttons are strangely-labeled it is very usable. A free version is available offering the first eight chapters, and the rest can be unlocked for 10 USD.
  • Mirai Japanese: An engaging app, combining audio-lectures, vocab flashcards, and grammar, Mirai Japanese is a great way to start learning Japanese! Each lesson takes 10 minutes or so to complete. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver, (though the flashcards are a bit finicky, you can still get all of the vocab words from the lesson transcripts.) The app is also available for Spanish. The app is free to try, but requires an in-app purchase to unlock all of its content.
  • GermanPod: A series of educational podcasts for learning German, GermanPod provides podcasts with accompanying worksheets/exercises. The app is fully-accessible, and free to try, but a subscription-based plan is required for access to all of its content.
  • IKnow: A flash-card-based app for learning everything from Japanese characters to SAT vocab words. Though the app is a little tricky to use, it's fully accessible with VoiceOver, and is very useful once you wrap your head around how it works. The app is free, but requires a subscription for unlimited access.
  • Coffee-break French: A dialog-based podcast, which you can listen to using a podcasting app such as Stitcher Radio, or Itunes. The podcast is free, and covers dialogs and vocab, with a bit of grammar as well. Each podcast is about 30 minutes in length. 

Have I missed any apps or podcasts? Feel free to put them in the comments below!


Posted by Diane BraunerSep 05, 2016

Great information - especially for teachers who have students taking foreign languages!

Posted by KleckHNov 14, 2016

Thank you for sharing these recommendations with the level of VO accessibility. I think I'm going to try the first one, Duolingo, with my daughter who is blind. She has a love for language but we have had a hard time finding an app that is accessible. Can't wait to try it!

Read more about: Assistive Technology