Dora, is that you? - Weekend

Dora, is that you?

IF THERE’S one thing that I’ve learnt from teaching English, it’s that having a genuine interest in the language wins half the battle for you. This goes for all languages I suppose. You don’t need to have a supercharged speech center in your brain to be language savvy. You just need to love the language enough to pick your way slowly through new vocabulary and grammar usage. Far easier said than done, I hear you say.

I’ve been teaching myself Spanish for quite a bit now. Most of what I’ve learned is through reading the news and speaking to a few people who were willing to put up with my horrendous accent. It hasn’t been easy; I have switched words around or called someone a shrimp when I meant to say “Waiter!” I figure that I can’t afford to go to Spain to learn any time soon, so I did the next best thing: I let the language come to me.

This week, we look at three apps that have been instrumental to helping me improve my Spanish. Pretty soon, you’ll be gesturing delicately over paella asking for el camarero* to bring you la cuenta, por favor.**

DuolingoApp Name: Duolingo

Developer: Duolingo

Easy to use?: Very easy.

Available on: Android, Apple.

Overall comment: This app doesn’t just teach Spanish, it covers a range of European languages. It’s teaching value comes from a well-designed level system, taking you through the basics right up to the grammar usage at an Intermediate level. It also covers the four language areas, so it’s a well-rounded lesson every time. The best part? It’s absolutely free.

Learn Spanish 24/7
Learn Spanish 24/7

Name: Learn Spanish 24/7

Developer: 24/7 Tutor Inc.

Easy to use?: Fairly easy, albeit limited in lesson scope.

Available on: Android, Apple

Overall comment: If you were leaving for Spain in two weeks and needed basic phrases to get around, this is the app you should keep on your device. The lessons aren’t as varied as Duolingo, but Learn Spanish keeps an index of handy phrases that is easy to access. The quizzes are good for practice, but in a pinch, it’s the phrase list that makes this app worth checking out.

FlashcardletName: Flashcardlet

Developer: Brainscape

Easy to use?: This app is not as intuitive as you would hope it to be, so be sure to go through the tutorial at the beginning before using it.
Available on: Android, Apple

Overall comment: This isn’t necessarily a Spanish language app, but I find it’s great for learning new vocabulary. It works as a virtual set of flashcards, where you type the word in one language and its translation on the other side. You could also organize your card sets and randomize them so it keeps you on your toes. You’ll find other uses for this one, I’m sure. However, I’ll always remember that it was great at helping me remember that camina and camaron are two very different things.

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