As an avid traveler and expat who lives abroad in Europe I have come to face many challenges in daily life and this includes learning a new language. Some people can pick a new language up with little effort whilst others find learning a new language a real challenge.
I have however found that the mobile phone app is a great tool to assist in language learning and there are many apps available at no cost covering all the major platforms such as Android, Apple, BlackBerry and Windows.
In this article we will take a look at:
- The Advantages of Learning a Language with a Mobile Phone App
- The Best Language Learning App
- The Best Translation App
The Advantages of Learning a Language with a Mobile Phone App
You may think that there would no difference in learning a new language from a book with a CD to a mobile phone app but I have to say that through years of experience I have to disagree.
The first problem I have always experienced with a book and CD for learning is finding the sound files that refer to the phrases and then trying to go back to repeat the phrases again.
The second problem is that I find I learn best when associating words to pictures. A text book tends to contain mainly pages and pages of written text with few images.
A good language app addresses these issues by placing an image, the written phrase in both languages and a sound file all in one place. This offers a superb learning advantage as you can associate the phrase to an image and repeatedly tap the play audio button to hear the phrase as many times as you choose.
The best language learning apps also come complete with a portfolio of word games and these add a little fun to the learning process while keeping the student interested.
The Best Language Learning App
I have tried and tested many language apps and most have been deleted from my phone without providing me much success. I have however kept the 50 Languages app that can be used offline and is available on Android and Apple platforms.
The app is split into several segments of learning and these include a phrase book, vocabulary and vocabulary games. There are 100 lessons listed in the phrase book of which 30 can be used on the free version. In fact the app has so much in these lessons and the other segments that I have been learning for a year and have yet not required the pro version for the extra lessons.
- Phrase Book – Tap this option from the opening screen and you are presented with a lesson index. Each lesson includes a series of flash cards with images, the phrase in English and the chosen language and an audio button to hear a local say the phrase. The audio files are superb as they use firstly a male and then a female local to say the phrase in slightly different accents whilst pronouncing both the male and feminine version of the words. I absolutely love the take a test feature in the phrase book that has multiple choice, word order, fill in the blank and a bubble game. You will be surprised how quickly and effortlessly you pick up the language using these.
- Vocabulary – There are another 30 lessons in this area of the app whilst the pro version contains 100. With hundreds of new words all matched with pictures and split into categories, this useful resource can be used to learn as well as used as a quick reference tool during conversation.
The only negative point I could raise about this app is that the built in translation tool only works whilst there is a connection to the internet. I have found this to be a problem over and over again as many of life’s interactions take place away from an internet connection, hence my recommendation to download a separate translation app.
The Best Translation App
It is amazing to me just how difficult it was to find a translation app that worked well offline. If you scour the forums you will found hundreds of expats and travelers encountering this problem with their mobile phone. So here I can recommend downloading Google Translate, which is a cost-free app.
Upon downloading the app you should click the icon on the top right of the screen to bring up the settings menu for the app. Tap on offline languages and download the language you intend to use. Once this is completed you can translate offline. If you find that the app just hangs when trying to translate a word simply tap the settings followed by offline languages and then go back to the translation page. This seems to be a small glitch in the software but you only need to do this once after launching the app and everything then works fine.
These two recommendations should have you using your new language in no time and also save many hours searching through Google Play and the Apple iStore trying to find the best download for learning a language with a mobile phone app.