There are a lot of free language apps available nowadays but many of them are not very good or extensive. They tend to include some basic words or tourist phrases in flashcard format, but very few offer connected text (such as stories) in addition to pronunciation. Lately I’ve been looking for apps that include both text and audio in foreign languages, and I’ve mostly found apps that provide one or the other, i.e. ebooks or audiobooks but not synced together so that you can read and listen at the same time. I have found a few apps designed for children, however, that mostly include fairy tales but some include original stories. Many have a “read to me” and autoplay option so you don’t have to keep swiping the screen.
Both Apple and Android
PlayTales Gold : download books for free, but ad-supported and internet connection needed. Stories available in 8 different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese (Mandarin), and Japanese. [ Apple version is only a seven day trial so not quite as useful]
Luca Lashes : Original story available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian.
Hao-Ming Yeh /QLL Inc. : Apple version seems to only include English and Chinese but Android also has Spanish. Two languages can be displayed on screen instead of just one.
Verlag Friedrich Oetinger : German and English stories (but in different apps)
Tri-Software : Lots of classic children’s books (in different apps) available in at least two languages. Most are available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian and some even have Portuguese and Chinese. The free versions only include the beginning of the story.
Readalong Spanish : Only in Spanish but you have the option of including the English text on the same screen.
Vienom Kids Books : Two stories available in French & German and two stories available in French, German, and Spanish. Four different apps though, and the free versions only include seven pages of the stories.
Any other useful (and free) apps to add to the list?
I didn’t include any “free” apps that make you pay for every book.
Dr. Wagner has a PhD in Linguistics and is dedicated to learning and teaching languages online and abroad. She has studied in Quebec and Australia, taught English in France, and is currently based in the US.