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How to Create A Language Learning App For Kids And How Much Does It Cost?

Want to create a language learning app for kids? Discover essential & non-essential features, possible business models, technical stacks, and development costs for such applications.

How to Create A Language Learning App For Kids

In the era of globalization, learning new languages has become essential. People need to study foreign speech to do business, make friends, and just travel. However, teaching kids secondary languages is getting popular, too, especially ESL or so-called English as a Second Language. There are several reasons.

First, children have more advantages in language learning than adults. They are immersed in the environment and learn the speech by absorbing it through contact. Kids do not have formal instructions for using the language, so they aren’t afraid to make mistakes. Also, people avoid judging children for any slip-ups — this helps boost confidence and motivation. In terms of educational content, it’s delivered in a playful manner, where success brings various achievements, snacks, and toys. As a result, kids learn languages faster and more efficiently. 

Second, this market is rather lucrative. The ESL sector takes around 80% with approximately $44 billion in revenue, while ESL for kids is about 32% of the language e-learning market

So, creating a language learning app for kids is an excellent idea for a startup or an expansion of an existing service. In this article, we will dwell on the business model, must-have features, technical stack, approximate development costs, and a list of popular competitors.


When studying a language, children absorb around 12.5 million bits of information. It’s about two bits per minute. This amount of data fit into a regular floppy disk.

— The Week Magazine


What business model should a language learning app have?

Before starting the development, it’s crucial to create a detailed business plan. For starters, research the target audience, possible rivals, demanded features, popular educational methods, and so on. Once you have this information, you can start selecting the options for the future mobile application

Target audience. It can be babies, toddlers, or teens. Generally, psychologists recommend teaching languages to kids from the age of three and up to the age of eleven. This time is the period when the brain actively grows. So discover possible attractions and pains of these users. For instance, babies’ apps to learn languages will be straightforward, with short videos and flash cards. A teen’s version can be more advanced and include speaking practice, various tests, and longer videos on particular situations.

Also, the target audience can be divided by skill level. Do you want to make an application for amateurs or those who already have language learning experience? This fact will influence the educational method you choose and task complexity.

Monetization. To pay off the mobile app development, you must pick a way to earn enough income. Language learning apps and websites usually offer: 

  • Freemium: people can utilize the app for free or purchase a subscription to access the pro features;
  • Paid subscription: there can be a free trial, but one must buy a specific plan to continue working with the application;
  • In-app purchase: you can sell various bonuses to improve the user experience. For example, character skins, ‘gems’ for keeping up the streak, bonus lessons, etc.
  • Ads: earn money by showing personalized advertisements. Be careful, though — too many ads can push people away.

Best languages learning apps like Duolingo combine freemium with in-app purchases. This option helps user retention since people can still study without paying money.

Languages. There are more than 7 000 spoken languages in the world. Which ones to include in the mobile application apart from English? It’s better to opt for the most widespread ones; ten or twelve languages will be enough for starters. So, be sure to offer Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, French, and others. Some applications boast 40 languages and more. However, it’s pretty expensive to support correct localization for all materials. Also, it’s hard to keep everything updated with that vast selection.

Experts and methodology. You need to hire experts to develop the lesson plan for each presented language. It’s better if they are native speakers with a teacher’s degree, at least for the popular languages. Also, the experts should suggest a suitable methodology, like concentrating on speaking or vocabulary extension. In this case, you can guarantee that the mobile app will be helpful and become successful on the market. 

Apart from these options, the business plan for apps to learn a language should also include the available budget, possible expenses, etc. If the product is a startup project, it’s wise to choose the MVP or Minimal Viable Product strategy. In this case, the application will have only must-have features necessary for entering the market. The non-essential options will be added with later updates. This way, a small developer team can concentrate on crucial tasks, saving lots of time and money. As a result, they release a high-quality product that competes with medium-sized companies or even enterprises.

a language learning app to improve reading skills

Concept by Anton Khmilovskyy

What features should language learning apps for kids have?

The application should offer specific features that are essential for becoming popular and helpful for kids. 

Necessary options:

  • Gamification: kids learn through play. So they need materials delivered as a game, preferably with various activities. Also, try adding different achievements to motivate the young users to study harder;
  • Simple workflow: kids don’t have a rich user experience with mobile apps, so it’s better to implement an easy-to-grasp UI/UX without complex routes;
  • Cute graphics: children like cartoons and cartoon characters, so add such illustrations to lessons. The great idea is to create a friendly-looking mascot to accompany kids through their language journey. This way, you establish a closer connection between the children and the application. It will also help branding since your app will be associated with this character. For example, Duolingo uses a cute little owl as a mascot. 
  • Personalization: for an e-learning application, this means providing unique content based on the user’s mistakes. Does a kid have difficulties with understanding grammar? Then they get more tasks aimed at polishing these skills. Is their favorite topic connected with cats? Let’s use cats’ stuff or characters during the language studies.
  • Fonts with high readability: small kids may have problems with reading texts. As a solution, use easy-to-distinct fonts of a reasonable size. Alternatively, you can also add a voiceover for some parts to increase comprehension;
  • User profile: people should be able to set up a profile for their kid and adjust necessary notifications and reminders.
This app for language learning is aimed at babies

Kidszoo by MindInventory UI/UX

There are other non-essential options you can add to grant the app for language learning more utility in the eyes of parents and children. The product can be released without these. However, they increase the overall value.  

  • Task reminder: parents are humans, and they can forget about the language lesson in the neverending daily routine. This feature will help them remember and stimulate their child to study daily. It can be realized as pop-ups or push messages appearing at a specific time above other applications;
  • Progress monitoring: it looks like a calendar where the mobile application marks attended and missed lessons. Parents can also check this option to see if the child keeps studying without strict overseeing. It’s a great idea to praise kids with small in-app gifts or achievements for long streaks;
  • Voice recognition: to provide speaking practice, you will need to implement a technology to recognize the kid’s voice. It requires a voice recognition API, for instance, Google Speech, Bing Speech, iSpeech, or others. Remember that children don’t always speak distinctly, they can distort some words, so API should be versatile enough to understand the sentences;
  • Pronunciation check: this feature goes together with speech recognition since you need to see if the user has made any mistakes. The technology compares the recording with the voice lines spoken by the natives and pinpoints any deviations; 
  • Emotional feedback: for better motivation, place praising messages during and after lessons, as well as in statistics. This way, a kid will feel their progression; 
  • Offline access: if a device doesn’t have an Internet connection, the user should still be able to study. Allow people to download the lessons to their smartphones and continue practicing languages;
  • Socials: teens can connect their social media accounts with an application. This way, they can boast about their achievements and find language partners. 

Once you select the essential and non-essential features, time to find what tools your team needs for their implementation. Let’s take a look at different parts of app development.

A language learning app for kids

Ketto app by Wahyu Pratama

What technologies do you need to develop a language learning app?

The first step is to pick the release platform: iOS, Android, or both. Each system has suitable tech stacks you can use in your mobile application. In the case of a startup project, it’s wise to opt for one platform. Otherwise, your team will stretch out too much, and the quality of the end product will be poor. 

Frontend

It’s connected with everything on the client’s side and UI/UX. The team needs to build layouts and components and create attractive visuals and animations. The mobile development stack can contain Java, JS, or Objective-C programming languages. For web elements, one can use CSS3 and Bootstrap.

Backend

This type of development is related to the server side, which regular users don’t see. Here you can use Node.js, the JavaScript runtime environment. It’s a perfect choice for startups and MVP products since this tech provides scalability and faster build testing, deployment, and delivery. If the release platform is Android, implement Java or Kotlin programming languages. Swift is a reliable option for iOS systems. 

Database

When selecting a database for apps to learn languages, it’s crucial to prioritize personal data protection and robustness to heavy load. MySQL or Cassandra is a popular choice in that field. Alternatively, consider using a relational database like PostgreSQL. It doesn’t offer fast processing but grants high-security standards. In terms of non-relational databases, check out MongoDB since it has both speed and flexibility.

Cloud storage

It provides data backup, collection, and analytics. There are several technologies, like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. They are friendly to startups and often provide loyalty programs with free trials. 

Push notifications

To deliver various info messages and task reminders, you can go for native solutions: Google Cloud Messaging or Apple Push Notification. However, it’s also possible to implement a third-party service like Twilio, Nexto, or others.

This concept shows a language learning website for children

Child education website by Sajon

How much does a language learning app for kids cost?

The development cost depends on a lot of factors: team experience, time spent, release platform, technology stacks, amount of features, design level, etc. You should also include expenses on additional services, like promotions, QA testing, server hosting, placement into stores, and reviews. 

To lower the costs, you can hire an outsource development team instead of the in-house one. In this case, the price per hour may be lower: $40-45 for development and $70-80 for design. However, such a team needs more time for onboarding, as well as regular online meetings for the progress check. Moreover, it’s also vital to count time expenses as well. The shorter the cycle, the faster the product will get into the market.

Simple concept

A simple app for language learning with 5-10 frames and no animation or VFX will be the cheapest option. Especially if you don’t need full-cycle branding or pro-level features like voice recognition. In this case, the approximate prices will be:

  • About 240+ hours;
  • Approximately $10 800 for the development;
  • About $19 200 for the design.

In total, the average costs will be around $30 000 if you work with an outsourced team

Advanced concept

If we take a more advanced approach with 2D animated illustrations, well-thought-out UI/UX design, and premium features like registration, chats, profiles, etc., it will be rather expensive. However, such an app will attract more attention in the market. The possible expenses are the following:

  •  About 700+ hours;
  • Approximately $28 000 for the development;
  • About $56 000 for the design.

The average total cost can hit $84 000 and even higher. Such products are suitable for medium-sized companies or enterprises that can cope with such expenses. Opting for simpler projects is better if you are just starting your business.

Custom concept

If you go for custom development with third-party integrations, the prices will be different. A simple app will cost around 450+ hours or about in total. A professionally-looking mobile application might take up to 1200+ hours or even more. Custom development allows you to create a truly unique product. However, one needs a reliable strategy and enough resources to pull it off.

5 Best language learning apps for kids: a short list

Researching potential rivals is essential. It lets you learn more about the current market demands and target audience. What’s more, you can find excellent solutions for your concept and attract more users with a better implementation of these features. 

Here are the 5 most popular applications for studying foreign languages:

1. Duolingo

It offers courses in 30+ languages, including Klingon or High Valyrian from famous TV shows. It’s perfect for toddlers and teens since it provides personalized lessons and gamification with leaderboards. Recently the developers have added various stories that people can listen to and answer questions, improving their listening skills. Primary educational tools are familiar — it’s flashcards, filling in the blanks, translations, etc. 

For babies, Duolingo offers Duolingo ABC. It’s an iOS application that concentrates on reading and writing.

Duolingo is a free language learning app

Duolingo UI shows progress and grammar explanations

It also allows kids to connect with friends and other language learners to boost effectiveness and motivation. Duolingo is a free language learning app, but there are premium features that allow the learner to skip ads, make more mistakes and practice them.

2. Little Pim

It is an online platform for babies, toddlers, and pre-k. Little Pim offers 12 languages, including English, ESL, Spanish, Chinese, and others. It also provides guides for parents and teachers to achieve the best result. The platform uses short videos and printable materials to expand children’s vocabulary. It’s subscription-based; there are monthly and yearly plans.

Little Pim is one of the apps to learn languages

Little Pim offers many short videos

Little Pim relies on language immersion: five-minute videos help create a certain atmosphere. Parents can play them anywhere and at any time to keep the children involved.

3. Rosetta Stone

It’s one of the best apps for language learning. It’s suitable for toddlers and teens. Rosetta Stone has a vast toolkit: children can watch videos, listen to short stories, study phrases, and download lessons to repeat them at any time. There are 24 languages to study. Moreover, Rosetta Stone offers a special program for homeschoolers that allows children to fit language studies into their curriculum.

Rosetta Stone is definitely on the list of the best apps for language learning

Rosetta Stone has detailed lesson plans

The product requires a subscription, whereas the pro plan provides a lifetime license and coaching by a native speaker. The mobile app works both online and offline, which is very convenient during travel. 

4. Babbel

Babbel is a language learning platform aimed at teens 14+ and adults. It offers 13 languages and two ways of studying them. The first method suggests self-dependent studies using the application, the second one allows to attend online classes with native speakers. Both plans require a subscription.

Language learning app with video lessons

Chats and videos for speaking and listening practices in Babbel

Apart from videos and lessons, one can read Babbel’s magazine and listen to their podcasts. They serve as additional materials for expanding the language vocabulary and learning common phrases. The lessons are sorted by topics, and each includes various activities and speaking practices. 

5. Mondly Kids 

It’s a variation of the regular Mondly language learning app for babies and toddlers. The product offers 40+ languages, including British and American English. It’s free to use. However, some features and perks require a subscription.

Apps to learn language

Mondly app really looks like a mobile game

The mobile application is built as a game to keep the children involved. The actions are simple: a kid just needs to swipe or tap the correct variants while listening to their pronunciation. The lessons are grouped by themes, where various animal characters accompany a child. For better motivation, there is progress monitoring and task reminders. 

In conclusion 

It comes as no surprise that language learning apps and websites are popular — they allow children and adults to improve. For example, sharpen skills, socialize, travel to unique places, earn first-hand experience, grow business and make foreign friends. Such products have high utility, so they have more chances to bring revenue and become evergreen on the mobile market.

If you are looking for a reliable team to bring a language learning app for kids to life, contact us. We will do our best to create a unique application that will actually be useful for your target audience.

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Written by Mary Moore

October 10, 2022

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