Excellent tool for pronunciation practice, but not much else
English pronunciation is notoriously difficult. Have you ever struggled with the difference between through, trough, though? ELSA Speak tries to tackle this problem with tons of videos and practice exercises. The app is effective for practicing pronunciation and listening, but it won’t help you learn English basics like grammar and vocabulary.
- Huge variety of lessons and practice exercises
- Videos show mouth and tongue positions
- Constructive feedback on your pronunciation
- No additional study material to learn English
- Practice exercises can be repetitive
Table of Contents
ELSA Speak Overview
ELSA stands for English Language Speech Assistant. It’s an app that helps with English pronunciation. The CEO of ELSA Speak, Vu Van, decided to create this app after she studied in the United States and found that people had difficulty understanding her because of her accent. With the help of artificial intelligence and videos from native English speakers, this app helps you learn a neutral American accent.
Correct pronunciation is important to reach fluency, but it often gets overlooked. When I was teaching English as a second language, pronunciation practice was often pushed to the background in order to focus on other skills like grammar and listening. And since every student has individual pronunciation issues, it’s difficult to address them in a classroom setting. So I was interested to see if ELSA would be helpful for students to practice independently.
ELSA Speak doesn’t focus on English language basics, such as vocabulary and grammar. It’s exclusively a tool to help improve pronunciation and listening. It’s a useful app for intermediate to advanced speakers who already have a good understanding of the language. All of the videos and practice exercises are in English, so beginners will have a more challenging experience.
ELSA Speak Price
ELSA Speak offers a free version of the app, but it’s limited. There are different subscription options for ELSA Pro. A one-month subscription to ELSA Pro costs $11.99. There are cheaper options if you buy more months at a time. You can get a 3-month subscription for $25.99 ($8.66/month) or a yearly subscription for $74.99 ($6.25/month).
These prices are comparable to many other language apps, like Mondly and EnglishClass101. If you are looking for something a little cheaper, you can consider MosaLingua. There are also some apps with a lot of free content, like Duolingo and Clozemaster. However, none of these apps focus specifically on pronunciation.
ELSA Speak Free Trial
ELSA Speak offers a free 7-day trial of the Pro subscription. With the trial, you have access to all the features the app has to offer.
ELSA Speak Discount
ELSA Speak offers discounts on a frequent basis. Once you sign up for a free account, they will email a coupon for the ELSA Pro subscription. They also have discounts around certain holidays and Black Friday.
ELSA Speak Free Languages
ELSA Speak has a free version that limits many of the features you can use. You have access to a few lessons, but don’t have access to any of the tools in the Pro version, such as an analysis of your speaking score.
ELSA Speak Review: Getting Started & Features
It’s easy to get started on ELSA. You enter your basic information and confirm your email address. Once your account is ready, the app gives you the choice to take a quick placement test or start with a lesson. It’s better to take the placement test so ELSA will know what difficulty level to grade you with. The test is easy and involves speaking a few sentences so the app can analyze your level.
Once you have your level, you’re ready to start the lessons! Let’s look at some of the features the app offers.
ELSA Speak offers 23 skills, or modules, that focus on different sounds and sound groupings. Each module has videos taught by a native speaker. They show you how to form the mouth shape and tongue placement to say the sound correctly. Then you practice common words that use the sound. While I didn’t find the videos to be that interesting, they were helpful. Repeating after the native speaker helps you get close to the correct pronunciation. You’ll be able to read this poem by Gerard Nolst Trenité in no time!
This is where the app gets more interesting. In addition to the lessons, ELSA Speak is continually adding new content about different language skills. For example, there are lessons that help you practice common IELTS topics as well as fun skills like tongue twisters and common idioms. There are many topics and you can choose what you want to study, such as business or travel.
The word “game” is not quite accurate, but that’s what the app calls the practice exercises. There are many types of exercises: pronunciation, intonation, listening, word stress, conversation, and video conversation. Most of the exercises use the listen-and-repeat method, and you receive automatic feedback so you know if you correctly pronounced the word or phrase. Although these practices aren’t really games, I did find them helpful for learning, especially the intonation and listening exercises.
ELSA Speak Review: Overall Learning Experience
ELSA Speak is an excellent app for what it is meant to do: practice American English pronunciation. The lessons are quick so you can do as many or as few as you want in a day. Even though you are practicing the same skill, there are lots of different exercises that can help keep it interesting.
ELSA Speak is not meant to be a comprehensive app to learn English. To practice all the skills needed to learn a language, you will have to take classes or use another app in addition to ELSA. Because refining pronunciation is an advanced skill, I don’t recommend ELSA Speak for beginners or lower intermediate levels.
ELSA Speak Review: Areas of Improvement
When setting up your account, you have the ability to set the display language in 9 different languages. But when it comes to the lessons, this doesn’t really help. All the videos and lessons are completely in English without subtitles. Some of the explanations on mouth shape and how to form the words are very complicated, so you need to already have a good level to understand them. Even the dictionary is in English and does not give any translations.
I think ELSA Speak is one of the most accurate apps for giving feedback on pronunciation, but it’s still not perfect. Especially since pronunciation can depend on the country, region, and other cultural factors. I’m a native English speaker, but I sometimes got penalized for little mistakes, like leaving off an ending sound.
ELSA Speak Review: Alternatives & Competitors
ELSA Speak is a good app for practicing pronunciation, but there are also other alternatives that might be a better fit for you. Glossika, Speechling, and Pimsleur all place a large focus on pronunciation. If you want other ways to practice with an English Speaker, you could take classes with teachers on Verbling or italki. If you want to use a different app to practice skills related to language learning you can try EnglishClass101 or Babbel.
EnglishClass101 and ELSA Speak both use videos from native teachers to help you learn English. EnglishClass101’s videos teach all skills related to language learning, such as vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking. ELSA Speak only focuses on pronunciation. ELSA Speak Pro is less expensive than an EnglishClass101 Premium subscription, but EnglishClass101 offers a lot of content for free. The better app depends what you want to use it for. If you want an overall way to learn English, EnglishClass101 is the better choice. Read more about it in this EnglishClass101 review.
Both ELSA Speak and Glossika use AI (artificial intelligence) to help you learn English quickly. Glossika focuses on learning useful words and phrases in a language, while ELSA Speak is focused on pronunciation. Glossika is much more expensive per month and doesn’t offer as many features as ELSA Speak. In my opinion, ELSA Speak is the clear winner here. Read more about Glossika in this review.
ELSA Speak and Pimsleur are similar because they both use listen-and-repeat style lessons. Pimsleur also focuses on attaining correct pronunciation. Pimsleur offers longer audio lessons that focus on more topics, like grammar and culture, while ELSA Speak offers quick on-the-go practices. In terms of price, Pimsleur is more expensive than ELSA but offers more features. For pronunciation practice only, I would recommend ELSA Speak. For overall language learning, Pimsleur is the better choice. Read more about it in this Pimsleur review.
ELSA Speak lets you practice on your own, but Verbling connects you with a native teacher to take live classes. Verbling is more expensive because you are paying actual teachers for their time. Often, the price of one Verbling lesson costs more than a month of ELSA Speak. If you already have a strong level of English and just want to practice pronunciation, ELSA Speak is better. If you want to develop all of your English skills, Verbling is the better choice between the two. Read more about it in this Verbling review.
Frequently Asked Questions
ELSA Speak is an English language app that helps you achieve correct English pronunciation. There are a variety of video lessons and practice exercises to help you learn.
ELSA Speak offers a free version that gives limited access to lessons. If you want to access all content and practice exercises, you can subscribe to ELSA Speak Pro for $11.99 per month.
ELSA Speak is a good app to practice American English pronunciation. It has many lessons and practice exercises that show you how to perfect your pronunciation. The app does not help with general English language learning, such as grammar and vocabulary.
ELSA Speak teaches a neutral American accent. The teachers that are in the videos have an American accent. At this time, ELSA Speak does not teach British English pronunciation.
About This ELSA Speak Review
This is an independent ELSA Speak review, and the company has not sponsored this article. To write this review, I used a one-month subscription to the app and used it for a few hours to thoroughly test its content and features. I also found additional information on the ELSA Speak website to verify my findings.