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What You Can’t Learn From a language APP

¡Hola amigos! ¿Cómo están? 🤩

Today I bring you an anecdote that I have lived as a Spanish teacher related to learning with phone apps, read it to the end to know if you can learn Spanish with an app or not.

Some years ago a student joined my classes to find out her level of Spanish and start studying with me. As usual, I asked her some questions related to her goals, and also we completed a very quick test where I was able to know approximately her level and advise her what kind of activities we should do to reach the Spanish level she needed.

Despite that, she wasn’t a complete beginner, she had knowledge of some Spanish verbs and words, she wasn’t really sure of herself or how to pronounce some of the words. I told her what I thought we should do to improve her Spanish and her face was a bit surprised and quite shocked. The main reason why she was doubting the results was that she had completed all levels on Duolingo and had passed several activities successfully.

If you ask me if it is possible to learn with an app, surprisingly, my answer is yes. I will always answer that apps are an excellent tool, but COMPLEMENTARY and they shouldn’t be the only way to learn. Finally, I told my student that she should continue enjoying and learning with the app but might be a good idea to start classes to improve her confidence and fluency when speaking, she accepted happily and progressed very fast.

Apps are an excellent tool to practice vocabulary when we have little free time, classes with native teachers help us to practice fluency and clarify some doubts, watching movies or listening to music allow you to understand words in real contexts, but none of these methods is good by itself, for me, the best way to learn a language is to mix up all these methods and create a schedule in which every day you practice a different activity, improving in this way, different skills and abilities. 

Therefore an application is only a complement to the learning process and can never be the only way to learn a language. They have their limitations. They do not achieve the degree of personalization that a teacher can offer you. They are good for the most self-taught people, but for those who are not, they can be difficult to understand. They can improve your knowledge but not make you bilingual, and the best part is they are very cheap (most of them are free or very low cost) but once again, to improve in language acquisition you need to follow all these methods.

The short answer is you can definitely learn some things from an app, but if you want to become fluent in a language — or even conversational — they won’t be enough.

Clearer on this point, here I leave you my selection of 8 apps to learn Spanish. Obviously, there are much more also really interesting, so if you have an app in mind that has helped you a lot, just write or share it in the comments. You can also tell me which of my recommendations you liked the most! 

Some apps I highly recommend to complement your learning 

Duolingo

It is one of the oldest on the market. It has a very good design and for me, its system of points and prizes (gamification) seems to motivate the students. It has a very good design, attractive and really interactive. Offers a skill tree of lessons that uses listening exercises, flashcards, and multiple-choice questions to drill you on new words, phrases, and sentences. 

Memrise

The design is great and it is very fun, as you become an astronaut and you advance levels with your rocket. For me it is very interesting that you can organize your class in the calendar, i.e. you add the date and time you want to practice Spanish and the application is responsible for reminding you with an alarm.

Hi Native

As its name indicates Hi Native! It has more than 1 000 000 users. The particularity of this application to learn Spanish is that you have feedback from native speakers almost immediately. If you have a question, they respond very quickly. It is also like a game, where you can also answer questions about your native language.

Rosetta Stone

This Spanish learning application is a bit more serious, in the sense that the interface is not so much like a game. It has grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation. You can download the lessons offline. And above all, it has the interesting true accent technology, that is, it tells you if you are pronouncing well or need to improve.

Babbel

Registration with Babbel is completely free of charge and the first lesson in every course is free to try. (Depending on the language you choose, that’s 30-80 free lessons!) but If you want full access to Babbel’s courses, you have to choose a subscription that costs around. $12.95 per month. The per-month price decreases when you pay for several months of access in advance.

TinyCards

It is from Duolingo and is based on learning vocabulary with flashcards, the typical flashcards. It works as if they were real flashcards but contextualizes the vocabulary in sentences, which I consider very good because learning vocabulary in a list is not that much worth it. 

 

Bonus

SpanishDict

I always recommend SpanishDict as a fantastic Spanish-English dictionary App, but this tool also has lessons and video tutorials with questions that work very well, with updated topics and explanations in English. So if you haven’t seen the tutorial part of SpanishDict I recommend you to take a look and let me know what you think. 

Most importantly, though, language apps are not other humans. It sounds like an obvious observation, but the entire point of learning a language is to communicate with other people. You can learn as many words or sentences as you want, but until you’re able to have a conversation with another person, you’ll never be fluent. Or, according to the CEFR model, you won’t even be halfway there.

For that reason alone, learning a language with an app should be a starting point, not the end. If you make it through an entire Duolingo skill tree or a Memrise lesson plan, it might be time to upgrade to an in-person class, or you might want to find a native speaker to practice with.

What do you think? WHAT APP IS YOUR FAVOURITE? ARE YOU USING AN APP TO LEARN SPANISH?

I will love to read your comments

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Abrazos y hasta pronto

Giane

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