Linguineo have produced a wonderfully efficient and convenient app which permits any user to create and customise their own vocabulary lists as they take charge of their language study. Despite on the surface claiming to be a platform for importing and creating word lists, it is the means through with you use and interact with these lists that makes this a truly beneficial piece of software for any language learner.
Learn Words prides itself on its ease-of-use and the character recognition doesn’t disappoint. You, simply, take a photo of the words or word list with which you wish to work, the app recognises them and imports them into the app for your review and editing. The recognition software works with pages, magazines and even computer screens. However, you also could add your own word-lists, speak the relevant terms for use or borrow from predefined lists from the app itself. For the latter, there are seven free ‘labels’ for your use or an additional fifty-two if you pay the in-app price of £2.99. In addition, many of these capabilities are available in an impressive twenty-eight language pairs. The quality of the character recognition is very good, and I am sure that it will improve further with time. Yet, there will be still need to be some editing on the part of the user.
Once you have refined and amended your list you can automatically add a variety of translations, images and exemplar sentences - thus contextualising your work and further enhancing the learning process. However, within the app, the suggestions provided are not always pertinent, especially with regards to the images available – a problem that can be easily remedied by including your own text or sourcing your own images by inputting the relevant URL.
For me, though, the true brilliance of the app comes from the interaction once the vocabulary has been added and edited to suit the user. Instantly you can use ‘rehearsal mode’, whereby you select the terms that you know or not – in the style of thumbs up or down. Also, just to ensure that you are not cheating, it will ask you to either hide the mother or target language terms. In a much more in-depth study, Learn Words allows you to take charge of your learning and customise a series of activities, including near-flawless speaking, listening, image-recognition, writing and multiple choice exercises, all of which are customisable by the user to better suit their specific needs. The app will respond to your answer by continually assessing your recall of the chosen words or terms. Once it deems you to have suitably grasped the designated term it will move on to the next, before returning to this previous vocabulary – embracing the idea of familiarisation and regular interaction as the most effective means to retain language. On top of this, for those in needed of a little entertainment during their language-learning, there are specially generated crossword and word search puzzles.
From an educator’s perspective, the offline availability, native-speaker-like speech software on each word or phrase and convenience of being able to export word lists have made this a truly valuable tool in my classroom and something which I recommend to all my students. It is a quick and opportune program that ensures results and, what stands out most is, the content within the free version. In fact, I would question the need to spend any money at all, as – asides from the aforementioned ‘labels’ – the only apparent downside is having to watch the occasionally in-App advertisement. To further enhance the user experience, if you create a Linguineo account, you can also collect ‘badges’ as a reward for having reached various milestones and share your word lists across each your iOS devices.
To have the entire scope of the app at your disposal is exceptionally good value, but, like I said before, not necessary as the free version is more than sufficient. The ease with which you can import words and phrases and then the extent to which the app allows you to interact with them is of clear note. It will have, from the outset, any user interacting in the language and recalling key words and phrases. The fact that Learn Words also tracks all progress further adds to the benefits that this app boasts. This app centres around the notion of regular language interaction and use across all four of the core skills – Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Learners will be acquiring words and structures at their own pace, in a suitably challenging way. The developers, here, understand that language-learning is a pursuit that takes time, patience, and regular sessions.
I strongly recommend Learn Words for anyone wishing to take charge of their learning and extend their vocabulary base. It is a comprehensive app – one which, since I first trialled it, use with some success - which pushes you forward in your language acquisition in a structured and supported way. Great app!