If you’ve ever wanted to learn another language but don’t really know where to start, you may want to take a look at Babbel: an online service that teaches users a new language from a large number of options. Accompanying the website is the Babbel iPhone app, which is available for free from the App Store. Putting my language skills to the test, I decided to grab the app and see how I fared with a bit of español! Did the app help? Is it useful for someone looking to learn a new language? Let’s take a look!
Note: This is a review of the Babbel iPhone application, and does not include any of the additional features you can find on the Babbel website.
If you’re opening the app for the first time, you’ll be asked to login to the service with your email and password. If you aren’t already registered, then you can register an account first. When you’re taken to the main screen, you can choose to learn vocabulary, take a look at the review manager or go to babbel.com for all the full features linked with a paid account to the service.
The vocabulary section of the application, which is where you’ll be spending most of your time to learn new terminology, is comprised of a plethora of sections ranging from digital world to environment. These sections are also further split in to sub-categories, providing you with a solid base of learning material within the application.
When you begin to learn new terms, you start with ‘learn and remember’, where you are shown a series of images, and the word that relates to them in the language that you’re studying. Once you have seen one word, you can continue through to the next. These section are split into three or four word chunks, making it easier for you to remember. Once you have seen the words, you are then given all of the images on a screen with the foreign word in the middle. Here, you have to link the word back to the picture, further reinforcing your memory.
Once you have learnt and remembered the words, you can move on to the ‘understand and practice’ section. Here, the word is spoken to you, and you have to tap the related image. Using another form of communication here to reinforce the content works great, and really helps when you want to remember what you have learnt in the previous section. Moving on, you will have to then spell out the full words relating to the images on the screen, using the custom keyboard which is again comprised only of letters present in the word you are spelling out. This is followed up by placing the word in to a full sentence, so that you can understand the context that it is used in, and how the sentence structure works of the language that you are trying to learn.
All of the learning techniques that I have mentioned are then repeated, so that you can really engrain the words on to your brain. It’s a full exercise, and will keep you learning for a while but in short snippets. The way the information is delivered isn’t at all overwhelming and makes it really easy to pick up new vocabulary as you move through the app’s sections.
Once you are done with a section, you can use the review manager to go over vocabulary that you have already learnt, so that you can keep it fresh in your mind and keep coming back to the sections to review them.
With a clean interface and stable application, Babbel is one of the best language learning applications available on the App Store today, and it’s certainly encouraged me to sign up to the website and continue learning Spanish in the future. Prices on the website can be as low as £4.95 per month depending on your payment schedule, and if you aren’t happy within 20 days, you can get a full refund, too. With a great service, a stable application and a thriving web community, Babbel should be one of your first stops when learning a new language online, so check the website out for yourself or download the iPhone app!