BOOST LANGUAGE SKILLS WITH YOUR IPHONE
If you have an interest in languages, you’ve do doubt investigated at least a few of the many apps and software packages out there that claim to help you learn them. The investment of time and money can be well worth it if you find yourself on new ground using your skills. But without significant time spent with a quality program and some good old rote memorisation, chances are, words and tenses will escape you. Sorry to say, but Google Translate will often fail you. Fortunately, there are reliable resources available to complement your studying and help you along in your journey toward communicating in another language.
Just remember, though, before you go anywhere be sure to unlock your iPhone so that it works once you arrive. After all, you don’t want your holiday memories spoiled by a ruinous bill when you return.
Here is a selection of quality tools for both learning and bolstering your knowledge.
1. Reverso is both an app and a website. The app is currently limited to a translator, but it’s a good one. Request a word in any of the seven languages it covers and it will give you a large selection of sentences using possible translations, so you can distinguish which one you need. The fully mobile Web site (reverso.net) is a fantastic resource, the verb conjugator in particular, which covers Spanish, French, English, and German. It’s easy to navigate, results load quickly, and it gives you full conjugation tables for loads of verbs in both simple and compound forms. If you’re studying one of its four languages, you will find yourself visiting this site frequently. Both are free.
2. Memrise is a free, crowd-sourced tool that is best used for vocabulary retention. It offers many full language courses, but the system really shines when it comes to helping you learn and retain words. Beginning and intermediate learners will quickly acquire new vocabulary and retain it, while more advanced learners who’ve been away from the target language can use it to bring those memories back. Another advantage is that Memrise has an enormous community of users who are serious about learning language — they are full of tips and tricks to help you get the most of out the tool.
3. Some of the best apps are language specific, and the focus on a single language tends to show in the quality and depth of the information. If you’re learning Brazilian Portuguese, you need to try both Brazilian PodClass and Verb Trainer. The podcasts comes in episodes of 15 to 20 minutes each, sharply mixing topics with bite-size lessons in related vocabulary and grammar that help you retain what you’ve learned. Use it consistently and you will find that it really helps prepare your ear for hearing other native speakers. For a small fee, you can sign up to access the written transcripts for every episode; this is highly recommended so that you can also get a handle on reading and writing. A bonus with BPC is that you’ll learn a lot about Brazilian culture, people, and places — it provides great fodder for daydreaming! Verb Trainer is a simple app that does one thing well, which is provide easy-to-read conjugation tables for a lot of verbs, arranged alphabetically.
4. If you’re just getting started and unsure whether a high-end program like Rosetta Stone is worth the money, you should look to DuoLingo. It offers a lot of languages, and as with Memrise, has many thousands of users around the world that you can turn to for help or inspiration, as the situation requires.
Now it’s time to pack your bags, get out there and start mixing with the locals – just bear in mind that those caipirinhas and apple schnapps are not conducive to accurate verb conjugation.