Saturday, 23 April 2011

Product Reviews - Babbel, Language Master, Lingopal

Quick unrelated note before I begin: jewellery tutorial is coming tonight. Couldn't upload pics last night, but I will tonight.

Right, I thought seen as I talk about learning languages a lot on here I'd do a few quick reviews of some of the software I use. The three products I've chosen to review today are all for the iPod/iPhone/possibly for the iPad...never checked to be honest (not that 'up' on technology...) - they can be purchased from the App Store. 

If you don't fancy reading all of this long post...just scroll down to the product you're most interested in:
1) Babbel
2) Language Master
3) Lingopal

My iPod Touch is seriously littered with language apps... I have to put them into different categories to figure out where they are, I have that many. As you can see, I have individual categories for Croatian, French, Greek, Spanish and Swedish, one category for World Nomads apps, and then two extras for random language apps that I either currently use or have used previously. Or if they're free, I usually download them to see what the software's like...

Babbel - Swedish Mobile

First up, Babbel, I downloaded this when I started trying to teach myself Swedish. I was instantly impressed by the volume of vocabulary on there. You can also sign up to have a personal vocab 'Review Manager' by registering an account with Babbel. This also means you can access language courses on the website too. 

If you go to the 'Vocabulary' section, you can access a heck of a lot of vocab, I like to compare it to a languages textbook, it's broken into useful sections. I spent a while studying the Education topic, and it's very detailed. It could have featured more school subjects, but overall it was quite impressive. Each word comes with audio, so you can hear and copy the pronunciation.

Available for download from the app store, this Babbel language app really impressed me. I also downloaded it in French for my trip to France in the summer, the vocab is detailed enough for it to seem like it might be of use to me.
Best of all? This app is FREE. Yes, you read that correctly, free. You can download Babbel apps in:
Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian, as well as an English one (for Spanish speakers). Overall, I was really impressed with this app, and the 'school style' way of categorising the topics seems to be an effective way of breaking down the vocab to make it manageable.

Language Master - Swedish

Second up, Language Master Swedish, by Hooray LLC. This app is also available in Polish, Western Europe (French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish), Mandarin, Russian, Eastern Europe (Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Croatian and Romanian), Swedish, Finnish, Italian and French. These each cost a mere 59p.

What I love about this app is how you feel like you're actively learning the vocab as you 'play' the games. You get shown pictures with the vocab, three at a time, and then have to match up the vocab you're given to the correct picture. When you've filled the whole board, you move onto the next level. It's a pretty basic way of learning random vocab, well, mainly random vocab, but it seems to work quite well. This app really needs to be used alongside others that teach you actual sentences and questions, but overall it's quite impressive. When you get past the welcome screen, the layout is quite sophisticated in comparison to a lot of language apps and it's easy to use, follow and understand. 

Finally, Lingopal. There are two sorts of apps available - free 'LITE' versions (greetings and flirting only), and the full versions that cost 59p. I have three full versions, and 6 LITE. There are a few obvious flaws with the LITE versions, audio doesn't work on a few of them which kind of defies the whole point. Unlike the previous two apps I've reviewed today, Lingopal is more of a phrasebook than an active learning app.

I opened up my Croatian app for this review (full version). The layout of the app is simple and easy to use, it doesn't look tacky in the same way that other apps do. A lot of the app is made up of flirting or insult categories, which is perhaps more useful for friendly conversation, though I'm struggling to imagine a situation that needs the phrase ''does this taste like Rohypnol to you?'' when on your holidays. Might just be me though...
When the audio works, it's helpful, especially on apps such as Estonian when you really can't work out the pronunciation on your own. It's also a big help on this Croatian version, as the pronunciation isn't tricky to try and work out, but you can often get it wrong.
The insults and flirting sections will give you a good laugh, if they do nothing else. ''I need to go back home and turn my kettle off" and "Can I flirt with you?" I'm pretty sure aren't generally used in any conversation, but it's fun saying them to your friends as a joke, I guess.

This app is available in 44 languages and a few different formats: Cantonese, Tagalog, Swedish, Mandarin, Slovak, Polish, Italian, Korean, Turkish, all 44, Thai, Portuguese (Brazilian), Hungarian, Bulgarian, Afrikaans, French, Norwegian, Greek, Bengali, Lithuanian, Spanish, Icelandic, German, Danish, Arabic, Japanese, Dutch, Latvian, Russian, Voyage app, Vietnamese, Czech, Romanian, Croatia, Estonian, Hindi, Serbian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Finnish, English, Malay, Slovene, Indonesian, FLIRTA and Ukrainian

If you have any questions or suggestions of language apps, leave me a comment :)


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