The backbone of learning a language is learning vocabulary and this android app aims to simplify that. As it says on the tin, it helps learners get to grips with 6,000 English words so theoretically if you spend hours upon hours upon hours trawling through the whole app you will hopefully increase your vocabulary.
However there’s a good chance you’ll also become bored out of your mind and quite possibly forget many of the words.
Using the App
The app is small and installs quickly and easily. We tested it on a Nexus 10 tablet.
Once installed, to start with you choose your own language. Yes, there’s a lot of translation going on here which didn’t bode well.
You then choose a semantic field: appearance, shopping, health and so on. And then you choose how to see and practice the words in that field.
To do this there are several different “games” to choose from: listen & choose, listen & write, find image and so on. Simply choose your game and begin: see a picture and choose the right word; hear the word and choose the right picture; match the word in your own language with the word in English; see a picture then fill in the missing letters to write the word…
And it goes on and on and on.
Presumably dedicated users will sit there (on their own, definitely not a classroom app this one) and simply spend hours clicking away trying to link pictures and words together, repeating the same old words over and over and over again till they are pummeled into their heads in much the same way they make foie gras.
And here’s the first main problem with this app: It simply piles words and pictures onto users with no real context. Words float around in a vacuum and whilst they are broken down into semantic fields and presumably users will choose those fields which interest them, there is certainly precious little context to go with the vocabulary which is never the best way to teach or learn or practice new vocabulary.
Dedicated users, then, will find that they will learn new vocabulary simply through brute force. But I am pretty sure that most users will install this app, use it a couple of times, and then forget about it so that brute force will never really come into play since it is so uninspiring.
Problems with Levels
Another major criticism I have is the levels system.
The app is completely linear. You start off at beginner level which you MUST complete before moving on. This means that if you are an advanced user you MUST trawl through simple vocabulary before trawling through the intermediate vocabulary before getting to the more useful stuff.
To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to do that. I used the app for twenty minutes at Beginner level and then gave up without advancing because I was bored and I suspect pretty well all but the most dedicated intermediate and advanced users will do the same.
Which is a shame because perhaps the advanced levels include fun videos, amazing interactive quizes, engaging dialogs, or state-of-the-art learning… but I never got there so I’ll never know.
The app is free. Personally, that’s the right price because I for one would not pay for something like this.
As a serious app to help learn vocabulary, it is not useful. It’s old fashioned in its approach to learning and teaching vocabulary; it’s tedious and boring after a few minutes; and only the most traditional, staid, and conservative learners will find it engaging. The adverts are a bit annoying as well.
Rating 1 out of 5.