@Google searches for “how to learn a new language” have seen an impressive increase of 108% over the last 12 months1 in the UK.

If more people were to learn a new language, this would improve on the current total of 62% of British residents who only speak English.

With this in mind, online smartphone retailer, Mobiles.co.uk, reveals how common smartphone features can help users to pick up a new language using only their handset.

As well as language apps available to download, most smartphones come equipped with features that can help make learning a new language more challenging and fun:

1. Use Google Translate

One of the most popular hacks for learning a new language is Google Translate. Easily accessible from your handset’s web browser, Google Translate allows users to quickly translate words or phrases into another language. It’s a great tool for on-the-go translations and supports 109 languages too.

The Google Translate app is available for both Android and iOS devices and supports 37 language translations via photo and 27 languages via live video imagery in its automated reality mode.

2. Switch the operating system language

This fun and challenging option is best suited for those who are a little more advanced and confident in their new language, so they’re able to navigate back to settings to return to English when needed.

Switching the operating language can really help users get to grips with a new language, as it allows them to pick up words and phrases commonly seen on a mobile phone that aren’t often included in learning materials. For those feeling extra brave, try changing the language in the handset’s map app. When exploring new areas, users can be directed in their language of choice. This is really useful for learning words and phrases such as “turn left” or “go straight ahead”.

For iPhone users, go to Settings > Language and Keyboard Settings > Select Language.

Android users can go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > Language > Add Language.

3. Utilise the voice recorder

The majority of mobile phones now come with an in-built voice recorder feature and it’s a really great tool to help users along their way when learning a new language.

Smartphone users can record snippets of words, phrases or sentences and listen back whenever they need to. It’s a really useful hack for those words or phrases that are particularly difficult to remember and is also great for perfecting that pronunciation.


4. Sign up to a pen pal website

Another really useful way to pick up a new language is by signing up to a pen pal website. Sending letters overseas has been replaced by websites that are designed to help introduce users to a pen pal from another country and can be easily accessed using a mobile phone.

As well as being introduced to other people from other countries, it’s a great way to get first-hand, valuable experience, especially on-the-go. Users can choose to communicate with their pen pal in a variety of ways, including video calls, voice calls, or through texting, which makes this method a great way to practice conversations in your new language with a native speaker, either in spoken or written word.

5. Pick up a podcast

Podcasts are great for listening whilst out and about and there are plenty available that are designed to help those learning a new language.

Podcasts available in the Spotify app include Coffee Break French, a podcast designed to fit in with a coffee break, News in Slow Spanish which allows users to listen to current news at a slow pace, and Learn Italian, which breaks episodes up by focusing on one subject at a time such as numbers, greetings and days of the week.

Karl Middleton, mobile expert at Mobiles.co.uk, said:

“Speaking another language can be really beneficial, especially when travelling abroad or meeting new people in your community. As well as the traditional methods of learning a new language, such as picking up a language book, tech can play a really important role in helping develop your language skills quicker by integrating another language into your everyday habits.

“Alongside utilising apps, we hope our advice on functions that are readily available on your mobile phone prove useful to those who are on their language learning journey.”

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