These apps help a lot in language learning

There are many ways to learn foreign languages: alone, with a child, with text and with videos. We’ve tested four innovative apps that help with that.

In a previous article, we listed several applications that can even translate scanned text in real time. But what if we want to take it to the next level and translate the text ourselves in our minds? Obviously there is an opportunity to take different courses, we can also hire a private tutor, but there is no need to pay for outside help when there is a free alternative.

After all, a smartphone is always lurking near us, and Google Play and the AppStore are crumbling from apps with extra costs or just microtransaction language learning. The question may rightly arise as to whether trying to learn individual skills on our mobile phone is tantamount to doing the same with an expert in a controlled environment.

The language exam in your pocket?

We wanted to follow up on the above, and find out the effectiveness of mobile and free learning when we let four apps together have several common denominators: they are affordable, user-friendly in every way, innovative in some respects, and can be downloaded to Android and iOS. .

Tested riders include perhaps the country’s best-known app on the subject (Duolingo), some that encourage learning with kids (StudyCat), a video-learning solution (Cake), and virtual reality software (Mondly). .

We have tried to examine as carefully as possible what these apps can provide for those who would learn a foreign language from the comfort of their home, as this may be the most obvious option during the quarantine period born of a coronavirus epidemic. One of the main terms of the “exam” was to teach English in the selected app, but the more languages ​​he presented, the more extra points he earned.

We also appreciated the fact that the interface of the applications was Hungarian, because for the sake of the article, we imagined ourselves in the place of a user who does not speak any foreign language. Design issues played a lesser role this time around, but at the same time we took into account the circumstances that made it difficult to handle.

Cake

We definitely wanted to test an app that also educates specifically through videos. Although it is difficult that the primary language is English, as an alternative, we can choose, among many other things, Hungarian subtitles, which are provided by Google Translate, so the dialogs of the videos in English will be immediately translated. Cake tries to convey the right pronunciation through various recordings, so we can expect scenes from commercials, series, shows and movies (we also showed a excerpt from the animated film Sing! After listening to the videos, we also need to repeat the highlighted words, but there is an option to slow down, repeat, save, share, and if successful, we can collect stars that represent our daily progress (10 minutes per day is the recommended minimum time). Fortunately, the system can’t be beaten through giggling, voice recognition works well. Unlike its sleeker counterparts, Cake’s surface drowns in chaos, but under the confusing surface, a variety of courses, subscription channels, and random quizzes await. Some features, such as profile or user league, are subject to registration, and settings are minimal, meaning they are exhausted in autoplay and subtitle selection. It may be most useful in combination with other applications.

+ video teaching, fun help with correct pronunciation, courses
– chaotic interface, only partially supports Hungarian, few settings

Duolingo

The very first option that most people think of when learning a language. Duolingo is extremely user and beginner friendly. After entering, we have the opportunity to assess our current level of knowledge, and after that we can expand our knowledge according to different topics (for example, food and drink, pronouns, verbs) starting from the basics. Going through the lessons, we come to a checkpoint at certain intervals, where the app checks what we have learned so far. It’s very practical to be able to complete multiple levels in some topics, embracing increasingly complex words, phrases, and sentences, and that’s not just how we thrive, but also our set of diamonds, which we can retry in case of failure. Of course, there is also the opportunity to make our job even easier, as Duolingo Plus omits advertising, among other things (insecure people can try its benefits for free for two weeks). With statistics, we get valuable feedback on how effective our progress is (we can even share them), while with the trophies we get, learning becomes even more of a game. Additional features include a friend list, dark mode, motivational messages, a daily goal, and a weekly leaderboard where you can compete with other players for promotion. The default language of the app is Hungarian, but other languages ​​will be available after the incorporation of English. Duolingo is a valuable companion in every way.

+ Hungarian, easy to use, lots of lessons, playful learning
– Only English is available for Hungarian speakers

Mondly

Like Duolingo, it also has a Hungarian interface. From the home screen, you can choose what language you speak and what you want to learn (distinguishes between British and American English, as well as plenty of options to choose from, including German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish). Unfortunately, there is no level survey, so we have to speculate whether we are beginners, intermediate or advanced. Mondly’s top promise is to help with quick memorization, in which “words and tests alternate in a special way for efficiency,” but the app also puts a lot of emphasis on daily progress and competing with friends. It measures our progress step by step and calculates how many minutes we have spent with it, how many new words and phrases we have already mastered. Tasks include pairing, word matching and multiple choice, the latter of which can also use voice recognition. There are also conversational and vocabulary-expanding courses from the types of lessons, and at the end of the process, a progress test created with the help of Oxford University assesses our acquired knowledge. In addition to daily lessons, weekly quizzes and monthly challenges are available to palletize your language skills on topics such as mass approach, grammar and emergencies. With the premium version, even more courses can be unlocked, but it costs at least HUF 2,490 per month. The VR version is only available with a separate application.

+ Hungarian interface, many languages ​​to learn, various courses
– no level survey, plus courses cost money, few settings

StudyCat

Although due to its gradual structure, the Duolingo can even be used by children, StudyCat is already specifically targeted at the youngest so that culture can become a family program. The unfortunately default English program suggests 15 minutes of learning a day, relying on the basics (like colors, animals, and body parts) for the first month and then later expanding the foreign language world ever wider to knowledge-hungry readers. There are both free and premium versions of the app: the former offers unlimited access to content (more than twenty themed courses, nearly two hundred lessons, almost forty songs and more than five hundred words / phrases), the latter a stripped-down course (two-theme course, twenty lessons, four songs and forty words / phrases). At the beginning of the course, we can decide whether to follow the recommended structure or compile it ourselves, but in both cases the process is as fun as a memory or pairing game. The app repeats the words aloud, thus helping with pronunciation, but – partly because of the system tailored to children – it doesn’t offer a more complex system, it can only be used sparingly as an adult. Among the parental tools, there are a couple of good solutions: there is a dark mode and sharing option, you can choose different languages, and English can also be set to American or British dialects.

+ intended for children, well-structured structure, playful learning
– the free version is low-cost, English, less useful for adults

Verdict

Whether we can speak, translate and write English as effectively with smartphone language learning apps as after a traditional course is difficult to determine from the four app tests, but it is undoubtedly clear that we can learn foreign languages ​​in many ways at home and only have one mobile phone. we need. Thanks to their Hungarian interface and diverse lessons, Duolingo and Mondly graduated pretty much head to head, but what makes the former feel like a crown is the premium model, as unlike Mondly, it doesn’t lock content behind a subscription.

Third place went to Cake, who featured videos and was able to practice correct pronunciation, with a surface that is less transparent and user-friendly than the former, but still proves useful – especially when viewed as an add-on. The army driver became StudyCat, which raised the education of the little ones to shield, exiled to the last place by its English-language interface and rather low-cost design. All in all, anyone who wants to learn a foreign language does best with Duolingo, but doesn’t put a bad horse on Mondly either. Using the two together is perhaps the most optimal.

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Source: PC World Online Hírek by pcworld.hu.

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