Was your resolution this year to learn a language? Recombu’s Lauren McGregor’s resolution was to learn Portuguese. Lauren is currently travelling around Brazil with the aim of learning the language via mobile applications – preferably those that are free. Here are her top tips and app suggestions for learning a language.
Why choose an app?
The reason why applications are such a useful way of learning is that – by and large – you always have your phone on you, and therefore the app. Plus they are more visual and tactile; with sound, pictures and interactivity they are much more exciting prospect then books, CDs or podcast. Although if that’s what you prefer I can recommend Collins Easy Learning series for books, Paul Nobel for CDs and Radio Lingua Network for podcasts. It is of course a good idea to mix things up when you are learning a new language, keeping it fun and entertaining. You will inevitably hit many lulls that are hard to avoid and get out of.
What type of app?
There are a number of different applications that can help you on your way including; flashcards, phrasebooks and dictionaries. It is tempting to download several, but this in my experience only leads to confusion and/or information overload. Instead have a look online at reviews and read the small print of exactly what you’ll be learning with your app. Ask yourself what you would like to learn, whether it is the basics of greetings and perhaps numbers for an upcoming holiday, or full on conversational language.
Try to remember how you best learnt in school – were you a homework fiend, a lover of reading, a visual learner or someone who needed to listen and repeat a million times before understanding? Armed with this info, search for what works for you. For many people (me included) the problem was concentration, I wanted to try something out rather than be told about it, if that’s you we’d suggest choosing visual and interactive features.
Pick a language that you can use, one that you love the sound of, perhaps you have friends that also speak it, or maybe it is the language spoken in your favourite holiday destination. It could also be the language you learnt at school – you may be surprised how much you can remember. Picking a language that you really want to learn, rather then one that is just for the sake of it, makes all the difference.
Best language apps
There are a number of apps on the market, new and old. Here are my favourites and their key features to give you a kick start, all tried and tested in Brazil. Good luck and don’t give up, speaking another language is an amazing skill and one that you can use in many areas in your life.
This is a great little app that combines visual flashcards with native speakers to help you to learn the correct pronunciation too. It also has fun quizzes where you can test your learning so far and stats on your progress. If you opt for the free version you’ll get less content then the paid for version, but I found the free version very helpful.
Content includes the usual colours, numbers, food, the weather and more – this app is much more about widening your vocabulary rather then full on phrases.
Available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Spanish Audio FlashCards by Declan Software (available in multiple languages) FREE version available
This app is a simple flashcard system with audio prompts, covering the basics of greetings and widening your vocabulary with numbers, verbs and nouns, expressions and colours to name a few. The surprising thing about this neat little app is the amount of content available, 3,800 words and phrases to be exact.
The menu of this app doesn’t do it any favours though and it would do with making a little simpler and nicer on the eye. However, it is a very helpful app with audio of the words and phrases to boot.
This is available for iOS but only in Spanish for the moment. You can upgrade to the full version, but it’s over £10, so I’d suggest trying this out first.
Talking Spanish Phrasebook (available in multiple languages) FREE version available
This app is brought to us from the travel company lastminute.com and was released a good few years ago now. However, it is a great little tool to have in your pocket when travelling, providing you with a phrasebook that speaks to you too. Topics include greetings and helpful phrases for emergencies and tourist situations, as well as if you find yourself in a romantic situation with a local.
This is definitely more a holiday language learning tool rather then something to use to learn a new language. Although it is a nice app to have to help you apply the words you’ve been learning into conversational situations.
This app is available on Apple iOS, Bada and Nokia, available in multiple languages.