Habla un segundo idioma?

Whether you're a regular traveler abroad or just want to broaden your horizons, there's plenty of reasons to learn a second language. In my case, I learned how to speak Japanese at Texas Tech, partially because a foreign language was a requirement for my degree, and partially because I've always had an interest in learning about the language and culture of Japan. But since not everyone has the time to sit in a classroom and learn from a native speaker, language learning software is a great way to teach yourself a new language at your own pace, whether you've had some experience or never spoken a word of Spanish/Italian/Japanese in your life. Here are my picks for some of the best language learning software.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is undoubtedly the most popular language learning software, and with good reason. Its sophisticated layout and simple, yet highly retainable lessons have made it a hit all over the world. In addition, the new Rosetta Stone TOTALe puts you in a live chat with native speakers, a terrific feature for any language learner. As great as it is, however, the extraordinary price tag is a major turn off for some. This program is definitely an investment for serious speakers, not something you'd use to pick up a couple of phrases for a trip abroad. But if you've got the cash and the dedication for it, you can't get much better than Rosetta. Rosetta Stone is available in 31 languages, and costs $250 for the Level 1 software.

Tell Me More

For more advanced speakers of a second language, there's a lot to like about Tell Me More. It jumps right into conversations and situations, and offers a large number of ways to teach the language. The program also prides itself on its speech recognition, which admittedly can be hit and miss at times. However, its lack of structure and tutoring may not be ideal for absolute beginners. But if you've had some experience in a foreign language and want to brush up or expand your learning, Tell Me More might be right up your alley. Tell Me More is available in 9 languages and costs $200 a package.

Instant Immersion

If you don't have the coin to spend on Rosetta Stone or Tell Me More, you may find Instant Immersion to be an effective, and much less expensive, option. One of the high points for me is how customizable it is. Instant Immersion offers a wide variety of methods to learn a language, from old-school flash cards to downloading lesson on your MP3 player. You just pick the learning style that works best for you. However, it's speech recognition function isn't quite as strong as some other programs out there, and the tech support is unfortunately quite bad. Instant Immersion is available in over 120 different languages and costs just under $50.


For language learning on-the-go, you can't get much better than Babbel. It's only available online, but the layout is so simple, the content is comprehensive and fun to learn and the speech recognition training is just as top-notch as what you'd get with the pricier Rosetta Stone. Its mobile app is just as impressive, offering the same speech recognition function along with vocabulary training, and is one of the best foreign language apps you can have on your phone. Babble offers just 13 different languages (all of them European, by the way) and is available for just under $13 a month.