Learning apps boom during pandemic lockdown
Patrick Atack in London

As the COVID-19 pandemic forces schools to close and anyone who can to work from home, one sector is benefitting: learning apps.

Once the domain of travelers looking to pick up a few handy phrases before they hit the beaches, these apps have positioned themselves as mainstream teaching aids. And that's now putting them in a position to give an outlet to those stuck at home and become the new classroom for language students.

"Depending on when isolation measures are put in place… we see these really big spikes [in new users]," said Cindy Blanco, of Duolingo.

One of those firms, Berlin-based Babbel, announced on Wednesday it would make its services free for all U.S. school and college students whose institution is closed by the pandemic.

"Babbel is offering those affected three months' access for free to its app and platform, in any and all of its 14 languages offered," the company said in a statement.

"As students are being forced to stay at home, Babbel is in a position to help right now and that is exactly what we want to do," added CEO Julie Hansen.

Other apps have already experienced massive upticks in user numbers, as well as changing trends around the time of day learners are logging on.

Blanco, a learning scientist at Duolingo, told CGTN Europe the company has "seen a real spike in usage during the day… people are completing more lessons while they're at home. And because they're [now] home all times of the day, that's really reflected [in Duolingo data]."