11 Best vocabulary apps to improve your communication skills
Time and time again studies and opinion formers have found that your grasp of vocabulary in communication is vital to the impression you create. A rich vocabulary allows you to express yourself unambiguously and with authority. Vocabulary apps can help you to expand your mastery of any language, thus building your own confidence and increasing your standing among your peers. I will review the best vocabulary apps 2021 below.
Best Vocabulary Apps – Top Picks
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Vocab1 (view website) is one of the most comprehensive vocabulary apps available and can wow and overwhelm newcomers at the same time by the sheer size and intensity of the app. On offer is an impressive and comprehensive number of words: 142,647 of them.
Vocab1 uses a vast database of more than half a million words to teach you the various contexts within which they might be used. In fact, learning new words within context is perhaps the app’s most important trump card.
But there is much more, such as 649 expert lists and the facility for you to create your own word lists. Each of these lists concentrates upon words commonly used in very specific fields, such as engineering, medicine or education. Special word lists for SAT, GRE and TOEFL are also available.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Vocab1 utilizes flashcards, interactive games and tests to teach you and you can jump from one section to another whenever you wish.
Finally, Vocab1 offers extensive support to users, even online forums where users can communicate with each other. This is certainly one of the best vocabulary apps these days for serious and systematic learners.
Availability: Web | Browser | Mobile.
Pricing: $67. View website.
Expanding your English vocabulary is what WordUp is all about. Geeks Ltd, an award-winning software company and owners of WordUp came up with a product that is unique in many ways. Learners will remember new words if they experience the use of that word in real-life situations. Thousands of short video clips from TV shows and movies are used to demonstrate the use of a specific word in many different contexts.
Another unique approach used in WordUp is the app’s focus on 20,000 most commonly used words, sorted in order of how useful each word is. Learning the most useful words first encourages learners to use those words in everyday conversations and situations.
WordUp also employs the principles of “spaced repetition” to aid retention. Every new word you learn is repeated a day, a week, a month and six months later. If you forgot, WordUp will show you its meaning and context again and again.
3. Magoosh Vocabulary App
Magoosh is primarily concerned with test prep apps. Magoosh Vocabulary builder (available for Android and iOS) is just one of their vocabulary apps aimed at students preparing for their GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and SAT tests.
Magoosh’s vocabulary app is ideal for students on the go that may have just a few minutes at a time to learn new words. Test prep experts carefully chose 1200 words most likely to feature in the test. For each new word the audio pronunciation, definition and examples of how the word is used are given. Learners start off as beginners and progress through the intermediate to the advanced level.
Having fun when learning certainly encourages students to spend more time learning; that is why Magoosh Vocabulary Builder uses a gaming approach. Users can either compete on their own to unlock new words (and worlds) as they progress or they can battle against each other to see who knows the definitions of new words best. Progress tracking is available too.
Quizlet, one of the top 50 websites in the USA and with more than 50 million users is much more than just a vocabulary app. Quizlet is an extraordinarily large collection of study guides and flashcard sets aimed at helping students prepare for a vast array of subject-related tests, including SAT and GRE.
Flashcards, games and quizzes are the pillars on which the app is built. However, students can choose between an astonishingly creative seven different modes of learning. Space limitations prohibit a full description of all these learning modes but students can form teams that compete against each other, opt for a straightforward flashcard lesson, test themselves with interactive games and even opt for a spelling test!
Quizlet is one of the most used vocabulary apps and available for iOS and Android. Its price depends on the number of units you wish to purchase. There are special prices for schools. Users can contribute flashcards of their own and teachers can design their own tests.
With more than 42 million users, Memrise is one of the most popular but also best vocabulary apps for language learning, offering thousands of language courses to learn most European, Middle East and Eastern languages. Nevertheless, most critics agree that Memrise is best suited to beginners or individuals that wish to expand their vocabulary in a language they have already mastered.
Memrise leans heavily on the principles of mnemonics, at least in those courses designed by Memrise itself. Users, however, have contributed most of the courses, and many of them do not employ the principles of mnemonics.
While learning, students can choose between flashcards, games and self-tests. Each course starts off by showing you the English word, its translation and its most popular mnemonic. Words you have learned crop up again at appropriate intervals to ingrain it deeply.
Memrise offers free and premium plans and can be downloaded from the app store. Alternatively, you can access Memrise through their website. Don’t expect to become fluent by using Memrise alone. As a stepping-stone for beginners, it is ideal, however.
Playing The Challenge is Vocabulary.com’s vehicle for testing your existing mastery of the English language and teaching you new words. When you first set up your account, you will be faced with a set of multiple-choice type questions to determine your level of mastery. Based upon the results, new words, appropriate to your level, is introduced, all in a gaming format.
But it is Vocabulary.com’s propriety technology called AVI (Adaptive Vocabulary Instruction) that is at the core of this extremely popular app. Everything that the user does is added to AVI, resulting in a very personalized learning experience for each individual user.
Then there is the vast and comprehensive dictionary, which Vocabulary.com claims to be the fastest in the world. It is an amazing interactive tool. Every word that you look up will be added to your learning queue. Users can even submit a list of words that they want to learn.
Students can use Vocabulary.com for free and there are various payment plans for educators and companies. This is one of the best vocabulary apps and bundles for schools. Alternatively, see our list of language learning apps.
Anki is not a vocabulary app, per se. Instead, it is an award-winning app that promises to teach you how to remember anything. The majority of subscribers use Anki to learn new words (in many languages) or to memorize trivia. Anki is available for free.
Spaced repetition and the use of flashcards is a proven method for helping people to remember facts, figures, the meaning of words, poems and quotations, to name just a few. This method entails the use of flashcards to teach you new words or facts and to then test your retention the next day. If you forgot the fact or the meaning of a word, the solution is presented again and you will be tested repeatedly until you have clearly mastered the learning material.
Anki is media-rich, using video, audio and images to help you remember. Download it free of charge for use on every platform. It is suitable for users of every age.
8. The Vocabulary Builder App
Like all other vocabulary apps, Vocabulary Builder aims to expand your grasp of words in English and to improve your grammar. More than 4,000 words are on offer, each with a definition, an audio pronunciation, examples of how the word is used, synonyms and antonyms. You can use flashcards to memorize new words and to test your understanding of those words.
A surprisingly large array of features is on offer. Apart from ready to use tools, users can also create their own “favorite words” list. Idioms and phrases showing how words are used in context and one-word substitutions are all covered comprehensively.
Numerous and frequent tests help you to see which words and phrases you have mastered and if so, the word or phrase is moved to you “mastered list” which you can review later.
Vocabulary Builder is available free of charge on all platforms. What I really like is that the app is fully functional offline making it one of the best vocabulary apps for commuting.
9. Vocab Genius
Vocab Genius, the brainchild of Brainscape, is another English vocabulary app that leans heavily on flashcards and the principles of spaced repetition. Presently, it is available from the app store for use on the iPhone or iPad only. After a free trial period, you can unlock all the features of the app at a rather modest price.
On offer is 800 flashcards that will teach you the most difficult yet also most useful English words. A further 300 “word element” flashcards show common prefixes, suffixes and the roots of the most difficult words. In order to improve your retention words already learned is presented again at regular intervals
Brainscape boldly states that their point of view is that games in learning apps are frivolous and that quizzes are distracting. They believe that learning takes place fastest when repetition plays a dominating role in the instructional process.
So, don’t expect quizzes or games but constant feedback. It’s one of the best vocabulary apps based in regard to concept, compactness and keeping track of your progress.
Platforms: App Store
10. Ultimate Vocabulary Prep for English; GRE
Galvanize, publishers of Ultimate Vocabulary Prep for English claim that their app is the top-rated and best vocabulary app in the word. Even a very rudimentary scan of consumer reviews shows that they might just be right! Originally, the app was designed to help students pass tests such as SAT, GRE, TOEFL and others but many thousands of non-students also use it to improve their vocabulary.
Galvanize does believe that learning should be fun and to this end, they combine flashcards with crystal clear pictures to create a “gamified” learning environment where you have to compete with yourself in order to progress to the next level. For every word, the definition is given and also the context within which the word is used. Understanding the nuances of each word is very important for the GRE and this angle is covered comprehensively.
Even though the app is free, it offers numerous features and functions. It can be also used offline. These features certainly make it one of the best free vocabulary apps available.
Vocabador is primarily aimed at students studying for their SAT or GRE tests. Using flashcards, just more than 400 words are presented in a very well designed manner: on one side of the flashcard, the word is displayed as well as an option to hear its pronunciation and an option to flag or unflag the word. The other side of the flashcard shows the definition, synonyms, antonyms and an example of how the word is used in context.
Vocabador uses a gaming approach, with wrestling as its theme. Words are divided into three categories: lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. Once you are ready to test your own prowess you can enter into a wrestling tournament, with twelve other wrestles to beat. Every match will test you on 36 different words. Once you have defeated all the wrestlers you can take on the Vocabador for the title of Grand Champion!
Vocabador is very modestly priced but critics generally agree that its limited word list is inadequate to properly prepare students for their SAT and GRE tests. It could be one of the best vocabulary apps for SAT and GRE if you like it compact and sporty.
Platforms: App Store
Best Vocabulary Apps – Review Verdict
Broadening your vocabulary base holds many benefits. Choosing a specific app should depend upon your unique goals. Are you preparing for a test or do you simply wish to master more words? Do you prefer structured learning or do you want more control over the words you learn? How much time do you have to spend on learning? All these factors need to be taken into account when you choose an app. It’s worth it, though!
What Are The Best Vocabulary Apps 2021?
- Vocab1 | Web, Browser | ★★★★★
- WordUp | iOS, Android | ★★★★★
- Quizlet | iOS, Android | ★★★★★
- Magoosh | iOS, Android | ★★★★☆
- Vocabador | iOS | ★★★★☆
- Anki | iOS, Android | ★★★★☆
- Vocab Genius | iOS | ★★★★☆
- Memrise | iOS, Android | ★★★★☆
- Vocabulary Builder | Android | ★★★★☆
- Ultimate Vocabulary Prep | iOS, Android | ★★★★☆
What are the best vocabulary apps in 2021? Let us know in the comments.