What’s the best way to learn a language? In this post, we compare the merits of readily available language learning apps, versus the human touch of a personal language tutor.

There are pros and cons to both – as we know, engaging a personal tutor is a commitment of both time and money, while apps are largely free. 

On the other hand, an app is a solitary pursuit while a face-to-face teacher provides encouragement, genuine one-to-one social interaction – and feedback. 

Look no further for 10 positive advantages of both options!

The Language Learning App

My own favourites are Duolingo, and Memrise, and for something a bit quirky – Lirica to learn Spanish using the power of music.

1. Many language apps are free.

This has to be the biggest advantage – if it doesn’t work, you are not out of pocket!

2. Learn where and when you like.

At home, in bed at night, on the train, at the bus stop, before breakfast, in your tea break, in the car park!

3. Five minutes a day if you like.

Learn at your own pace – a regular 5 minutes a day should get you somewhere.

4. Easy to fit in with your busy life.

Too busy to take lessons? You can learn in bed before you go to sleep – a good way to remember things!

5. Instant access! No big decision or effort required.

Just download the app onto your phone/tablet/computer and give it a try.

6. You can stop and start another language.

Can’t get on with Spanish? Try German instead! Try them all until you find the language for you.

7. No travelling required.

This is a big plus for people who live out in the sticks. You can’t get to a tutor, and a tutor can’t get to you – but your phone is right there!

8. No homework needed – set your own.

You never suffer that ‘Oh no I haven’t done my homework and it’s my lesson in ten minutes!’ feeling.

9. Easy to handle – it’s all there on your phone.

You don’t need paper, textbooks, exercise books, problems when you or your tutor are ill or held up. Just log in to that interactive world on your chosen device.

10. No one watching when you make mistakes.

Your phone won’t ridicule you if you get it wrong! You are your own teacher and critic – totally self-reliant.

Personal Language Tutor

Londoners can find one at Talk Languages 

1. Confidence building.

For me this is the number one benefit of having a real live tutor – even with simple conversation you can see that what you say WORKS in real life. It’s a great confidence booster.

2. Can become a firm friend.

Your tutor will get to know you and your lessons will be a shared experience, which could lead to a lifetime friendship.

3. Can explain specific problems i.e. grammar points.

If you don’t understand something, you can ask, and your tutor will find a way to explain. An app can’t do that!.

4. Lessons tailored to your goals.

Your tutor will be able to customise the lessons to include things that really interest you, directing your learning towards your own individual language goals. 

5. Practise the correct accent.

This is how you learn how to say the words correctly, and a private tutor will correct you properly when you get it wrong. Listen and learn, then try it in turn!

6. Advice on progress such as exams.

Have you heard of Continuous Personal Development (CPD)? When you progress from the beginner stage you may want to start working towards something, a GCSE for example. A personal tutor can help you on this journey.

7. Can teach online when distance a problem.

Computers aren’t for apps alone – if your tutor can’t come to you or vice versa, then these days you can learn a language online using Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or similar.

8. Less lonely – part of your social life.

This is the overwhelming advantage of having a personal tutor – regular lessons can become part of the very fabric of your life. Human contact is what keeps us sane and happy, and you don’t want to be looking at a tiny screen all the time.

9. Active encouragement.

This is what teachers do – they keep you motivated, whether by emphasising what you do well, setting homework and going through it afterwards or giving feedback, to help you on your way to fluency.

10. You can go out and visit places together.

When all’s said and done, what better way to learn a language than going out seeing places and enjoying yourself with a native or fluent speaker of your chosen language?


The conclusion which can be drawn is this: The serious language learner will benefit from using both options.  

An app is a fantastic tool which allows you to practise and learn vocabulary anytime, anywhere. Plus, it’s generally free. 

Finding a private tutor is an expense but it is also a firm commitment.  

An app cannot provide the direction, the encouragement, the advice, the companionship and the feedback that you need to progress.

A private teacher is a human being with whom you can have a proper conversation and who will help you believe that your language skills will work in the real world. 

Sign up for a 10 week course of FREE online language lessons: Tempting Tasters – Choose from Spanish, French, Portuguese or Italian.

Share This Post:

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Let's talk languages

Let's talk languages

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.