Tuesday, April 2, 2013

App Roundup: Language Learning

Hablo EspaƱol. (I speak spanish). Well sort of. But I'm learning thanks to two awesome apps!

Mind Snacks is the first one - I've got it on my iPhone and iPad in Spanish, but there a few different languages, and even vocabulary building for kids and the SATs.

I love this app because it pretty much completely teaches you through games. This is perfect for me, because it makes me want to keep going, to unlock more lessons and more games, to fulfil quests and go up levels.

You sign up for an account so it saves your progress and syncs across your devices.

It's free to download the app, but you only get one lesson. That was enough for me though, and I was hooked already so I happily paid the $5ish (AUD) to buy the complete app.  Totally worth it to me, when I've considered paying $20+ for computer language software before.

So this is great - but wouldn't get you fluent in a language. So far I've just mainly been learning vocab, but it says there is some grammar once you unlock more lessons. But I think the best use for this app is a supplementary learning tool.

The second app is Duolingo.

This one is completely free! And you can download an app, and use it online on their website.

This one doesn't have games, but you do unlock new lessons and levels as you progress. And this one is a bit more comprehensive, teaching you grammar and vocal combined right from the start.

I've used some flashcard type language learning programs before, and while they are good, the way Duolingo does it is even better. Every lesson combines translating Spanish (or your chosen language) to English by typing, listening and writing the Spanish, speaking the Spanish into a microphone, picking from multiple choice, translating English to Spanish etc.

One, you don't get bored, just looking at flashcards. And two, it really tests your all round knowledge of the words because you don't have just recognise them by sight, but you've got to know how to say them and spell them and hear them too.

You get three hearts, or 'lives' each lesson. If you make too many mistakes,
you have to repeat the lesson. And you make the little owl sad :(
I can't believe this one is free! On their website it talks about your help in 'translating the web', which is why it is free. But I can't see myself being good enough at Spanish to translate anything for a while yet, so I'm not sure why it's free for me? But, hey! I'm not complaining.

So I recommend giving these apps a go.

I reckon even kids could use the MindSnacks one for the early lessons and a couple of the games.

Now I just need someone to have conversations with, to really practice what I'm learning.

The Bubs is a bit young to talk back just yet, but in a meagre attempt at introducing some 'bilingual-ness' to our home, I've been pointing out her body parts in Spanish and singing a song about elefantes!

Happy Language Learning!

Do you know of any other programs or apps for language learning that you love?
Have you tried teaching your baby or young children a second language? How is it going?

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