Language Learning Apps Reviewed
Self-study is essential to improving your Russian – but lets face it, finding the time is tricky… Luckily, help is at hand with language-learning apps. Can memorising vocab really be turned into entertainment? We review five of the best apps to find out.
The market for language-learning apps has exploded in recent years, and with good reason – as almost all of them emphasise, they are hugely time-saving. You can just learn on the go, anywhere, anytime, bit by bit. When queuing for a coffee, riding on the metro, waiting for a friend – you can make productive use of your dead time.
Plus – it works! The ‘gamification’ of learning capitalises on our competitive instincts and uses the same addictive model of ‘levelling-up’ of video-games. Now, with high production values and great design – they’re like guilt-free, bite-size X-box games, and we all know you learn better if you’re having fun.
Here are five of the best (all of which are free!)
Busuu is named after an indigenous African language allegedly spoken by only eight people. The eponymous app is notably more inclusive, however, in fact it’s currently the world’s largest social network for language learning. As well as offering a good selection of language games, exercises and tracking tools – Busuu allows you to practice your language skills directly with native speakers worldwide with their 60-million-strong community. You can send off your writing exercise to a native speaker for personalised feedback. It has Russian from A1-B2, is free and functions offline.
Slightly simpler than the others – rather than providing you with pre-made lesson plans or drilling you on vocabulary which may not be relevant to your need, Tiny Cards allows you to create your own learning preferences. You type in the words you want to focus on and they create games through which you can test yourself and keep track of your progress.
Essentially, they’ve digitised the humble flashcard. It’s simple, but effective – with a slick interface and multiple ways to turn you learning into a digital challenge where you have fun unlocking new levels and keeping your ‘memory strength bar’ full.
Memories pitches itself as more scientific than its competitors – specifically, focused on the neurology of memory. Founded by Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory, and Greg Detre, a Princeton neuroscientist specializing in the science of memory and forgetting – the app uses brain science to help you learn faster. In order to help you learn as quickly and effortlessly as possible, the app uses memes to help you form vivid, sensory memories. It tests you continuously and with its community registration – enables you to indulge your competitive edge by comparing your progress to that of your friends and other users.
The app’s tag line is ‘just speak it. No studying, no waiting.’ Rather than focusing on memorising vocabulary, Hello Pal gives you opportunities to actually use your new language skills by pairing you with international users from all around the world. It’s essential a match-making service for pen-pals, allowing you to connect with native speakers of your chosen language. Once you match you can practice talking – either in text or live chat, it’s up to you.
The most downloaded education app in the world – Duolingo’s credentials speak for themselves. It’s well-established as a fun and addictive way to learn a language, consisting of many different levels and types of bite-sized lessons within which you earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Free, with no adds and tens of millions of users – it’s a demonstrably effective way to help you work through those hundreds of Russian verbs you’ve been meaning to get around to memorising.
So there you have it – five different ways to help you learn Russian on the go. You can practice your speaking, listening, writing and reading with lessons tailored specifically to your needs. Apparently only ten minutes a day is enough to see notable gains, and you don’t have to spend a single kopek. So what are you waiting for!?
This blog was brought to you by Kamila, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz.