So I’m going to put down quick thoughts on several iPhone apps for learning Spanish that I tried out. I’m not sure these comments qualify as iPhone App reviews, but hopefully you find them a bit useful or entertaining or both.
Spanish Learner which a blog reader had suggested I give a try. A good app that seems to me to have a fatal flaw (unless I missed something). Spanish Learner reads you a Spanish word and then you try to spell the word out. If you get it wrong, Spanish Learner gives you another try. If you get it wrong again, Spanish Learner gives you another try. You can move on to other words, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the application to tell me the correct spelling. So if you don’t know a word at all and you are bad at figuring out spelling based on hearing (I’m ridiculously bad at that)…. then you kind of get stuck on a word and definitely feel that you are not learning anything.
Spanish Phrasebook – a good cheat sheet of common Spanish phrases. While the navigation was pretty good and the audio was very clear (though perhaps a bit fast for folks hearing a phrase for the first time), this app is just a reference tool (in my mind) without much in the way of fun interaction.
SpanishD!ct – from one of my favorite websites SpanishDict.com. I installed this application and expected it to work just like the website. On the website, I can type in an English word, it shows me the Spanish and then I can play the audio of the Spanish word being said. I figured this would be a great learning tool. I planned to carry my phone with me and just start saying the names of objects in Spanish and when I didn’t know one, I’d whip out my phone, type in the English word, hear it in Spanish, try to say it in Spanish and go on my way. But for some unknown reason the SpanishD!ct app doesn’t work that way. Instead I typed in the English word. The Spanish equivalent was shown, but then the audio either wasn’t there or was for the English word. I KNOW how to pronounce English.
So I discovered that SpanishLite does work the way I thought SpanishD!ct would. I can type in English, see Spanish and hear Spanish. I am pretty happy. On the down side, one thing I hadn’t thought about with SpanishLite and its translation function, it is going to the internet to retrieve the audio. So if you are out of range of cell towers and internet, you aren’t going to be able to find out how to say a new word in Spanish. Bummer.
So after I finished emailing SpanishDict.com about how their application ought to work, I thought I would try their Word Game, which is part of the SpanishD!ct app. This is a moderately fun quiz. They read you a Spanish word and show you four English words and you tap the word that you believe is the correct translation of the word they just read (which they also display). If you guess correctly, you get points. If you guess wrong you don’t. Guess three in a row correctly and they advance you to harder words. Guess some number wrong and they move you back to easier words. I thought this was somewhat useful for learning new words, but again there are a couple shortcomings (maybe they should hire a few end users before publishing these things). First the choice of words seemed a little odd. I was figuring they would stick to the sort of words you are very likely to need to know if you travel to a Spanish country — kinds of foods, names of places, objects you might want to buy, travel vocabulary, etc. Instead one of the words that came up more than once in my game was ‘ancestor’ or ‘antepasado’. Now seriously, I’m pretty sure I could go for days on end, probably weeks or months, in this country or a foreign land without needing to use the word ‘ancestor’. Are they that hard up for conversation in Spain that people will be asking me about my ancestors? I mean mis antepasados.
Okay that’s enough complaining (quejarse) from me and yes, I know that ‘quejarse’ isn’t the right form of the word, but I’m been listening to Benny the Polygot who comments we have to stop thinking that we must wait to have the words exactly correct before using the language. But more on that topic in another post.
P.S. Here was another item I found humorous. SpanishD!ct also included a phrases section. One of the phrases they included was “Will you marry me?” which is: ¿quieres casarte conmigo?
But does anyone else see what is wrong with this picture? If you can’t speak enough of your potential spouse’s language to know how to say, “Will you marry me?” then I think you need to seriously reconsider whether the relationship is to a point that you should consider marriage. En serio!