One of the most difficult parts about learning a new foreign language is, I find, getting to grips with the tonne of new vocabulary you have to learn, especially if the language bears little or no resemblance to your mother tongue. This is certainly the case with Russian, where most words are completely different to those in English. Were I living on my own, I would attach stickers onto everything to help me remember, but seeing as my flatmate would probably take a dim view on this, I was on the hunt for another solution.
It was then that Language Coach on the App Store caught my eye. Made by the German software developer and publisher Jourist Verlag GmbH, it is an app for both the iPhone and iPad which features 29 different foreign languages and helps make those boring vocabulary drills a tad more interesting. The most convenient thing about it is that you can do it almost everywhere no matter where you are — on the bus, in bed or just sat back on the sofa, and the app supports multiple languages, so you can learn as many (or as few) as you want.
Let’s take a look at Language Coach in a bit more detail.
As a student of German, Swedish and Russian, I know that getting to grips with a new foreign language is by no means an easy task. Mention learning languages to anyone and the first thing that flits through their mind is constant grammar drills, vocabulary lists and pronunciation exercises, whereby you have to repeat the same word a thousand times until your sanity is almost at breaking point.
Enter Language Coach. The app supports 29 world languages including French, German, Spanish and Chinese and the good thing about the iPhone app (in comparison to the Android version) is that you can learn as many languages as you want, unlike in the Android version where you have to purchase additional languages at extra cost. Each foreign language contains around 2,100 words, all of which are articulated by a native speaker.
Language Coach is great no matter what your language learning goal is. The app has a good variety of different exercises (there are nine in total) to help you learn whatever your needs — whether it’s simply brushing up on that forgotten schoolboy French or whether you’re learning a whole new language.
Language Coach works off the flashcard principle, whereby you are made to constantly repeat words until they engrain themselves into your memory (this technique is utilised in other language learning software, such as Rosetta Stone). Each word and phrase in the app is also accompanied by a clip art image, which helps you remember the word a lot easier if twinned with a visual aid.
You can decide exactly what you want to learn and Language Coach divides all the words in its library into convenient categories, making it easier to track down those key words. For languages in non-Roman script (such as Chinese, Japanese, Russian and so on), the app also features a pronunciation guide which corresponds roughly to standard English pronunciation which helps you pick up a new alphabet or script a lot easier.
Language Coach gives you the choice between nine different kinds of exercises to help build on your vocabulary knowledge and it has to be said that all are fantastic (and dare I say it, fun). You can guess the word displayed on the screen both with and without a visual aid, type out the phrase spoken (you have to get at least 80% of it right, though!), and more.
The app also features a pronunciation training section as well, which records your pronunciation of the phrase or word and compares it with that of the native speaker. The app however merely records the pitch of your voice in order to help you mimic the accent, not whether you are saying the word correctly or not.
Language Coach is a great utility to help you learn a foreign language, but don’t think that it’s the be-and-end all of language learning. It’s fantastic for helping you improve your vocabulary knowledge but if you are really serious about getting to grips with the language in question then it’s best to use additional material (especially if you want to get into the technicalities of grammar, which the app doesn’t explain — however, it does give the grammar of nouns for languages such as German). However, in comparison to other language apps on the store, it does work out a lot cheaper (at 37 cents a language), but if you’re not bothered about learning vocabulary in 29 different languages then this may be slightly wasted on you.
Be aware as well that the app is quite a space hogger — it clocks in at 734 MB (mainly due to the fact the the audio files are built into the program, meaning no Internet connection is required) — so if you’re got limited space on your iPhone this may be worth considering.
Language Coach is a great little utility that everyone who is learning a foreign language really should have on their iPhone. Even if you are just brushing up on some elementary language skills, the app can help no matter what your situation. Although primarily meant as a language learning tool, Language Coach can also double up as a phrase book (and features all the expressions and words that you would require) and it is a great little reference tool.
The interface is nicely laid out and there’s absolutely no element of clutter whatsoever. Even if you are just wanting to brush up on one language, $9.99 is a small price to pay for such a great tuition program and although there are cheaper options out there on the App Store, none of these will go into the level of depth that Language Coach does. So whether it’s Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hungarian or Vietnamese, Language Coach has pretty much got you covered.