Playing with the Drops App

Playing with the Drops App

Blog
Having heard about the language drops app, I thought I'd give it a try. I'll save a full review for later, hence this being a blog post, but I'm initially impressed. This appears to be an SRS type learning system with a nicely designed app with nice little games/exercises. The free version limits you to 5 minutes play per 12 hours. Realistically this means that if you want to stick to some sort of schedule then you're going to end up doing 5 minutes per day. That's pretty minimal for my liking but I thought why not try it and see. There actually seems to be a version for each language in the store, which is great. That means I can do 5 minutes per language (by installing multiple apps). I've decided on this selection: Spanish - which I've been studying for two months. So far the word...
5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

5 Ways Not to Suck at Learning Languages

General
You imagine yourself speaking another language fluently, laughing with the natives as you order another beer. You make a throwaway comment about how the beer is better than in your country. "Oh. I didn't know you weren't from here", says the barman, "You speak the language so well". "Thanks, it's not perfect but I try", you reply as you secretly make plans to sell all your grammar books on the internet that evening and use the funds to buy a t-shirt with the simple slogan "bilingual" on it. You've had a dream like that, right? And then you tried to learn a language and remembered that learning a language is a bit like running a couple of marathons backwards, back to back, in fluffy panda slippers. Unless you're just enjoying the shape of the various straight and squiggly lines on you...
Memrise Review

Memrise Review

Reviews
I've been using Memrise for a while, so I thought it about time to put together a quick review as there don't seem to be many memrise reviews available. Memrise is a spaced repetition system that aims to help you learn things. Whilst you can learn many things with Memrise, there's a particular focus on languages. Memrise is available in app form for Android and iOS, but also has a web version. Memrise is available for free, but in recent times has had a pro version for additional features that is virtually constantly on special offer. I've never felt the need to pay for these additional features. Memrise let's you make your own courses, or search for and follow one of the many others that other people have created. This, I would say, is one of the benefits of Memrise. There is a lar...
Duolingo

Duolingo

App Reviews
Duolingo is the "go to" language learning app of many a language learner because of its fun and intuitive design and its ability to turn language learning into a game. Over the years, Duolingo has expanded its selection of languages so that it now teaches many languages. A common question with Duolingo is what level somebody will be at when they finish the course. You should expect to be around an A2 level in reading and lower in the other skills. A typical Duolingo course will teach you about 2000 words, along with a variety of sentences. Unlike traditional courses, these sentences often don't have much relation to anything you'd use in real life. The idea is to make them fun and for you to absorb the grammar naturally. The natural grammar absorption isn't that effective and whil...
Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

Do you Really Understand 80% of a Language if you Learn 1000 Words?

General
I read this a lot, learn the most frequent 1000 words (or 2000, it depends on the source) and you understand 80% (or 90%, it depends on the source) of the language. It's a statement that is so deeply embedded in language learning that it appears everywhere: from Duolingo's old fluency percentage to Lingvist's pretty little graph. Even the good old BBC push this theory. But It's not about Words, it's about Meaning So let's start with examining the problem with this idea. Language is about communicating something. But if we consider it on a word level then we're highly restricted in what we can communicate. Say, for example, that I walked up to you and said: Water Now you might guess that I want water, right? In fact, the fact you guess that without thinking about it is very importan...
What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

General
People learn languages for all sorts of reasons. It could that you have a specific purpose for learning a particular language, or it could just be that you want to learn one as a hobby. In the latter case you may decide that you want to start with a language spoken by a large number of people in order to maximise your gains, or you could simply decide that you want to learn the easiest language possible to start with. Defining how easy a language is to learn is, however, a difficult problem. First and foremost it depends on where you are coming from. An asian language, for example, is easier for a speaker of another asian language to learn. Because of that we need to set the base from which we're learning from. As you're reading this article in English, we're going to assume that you're...
Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

General
You've worked hard. U kunt wat Nederlands spreken. And you want a certificate to prove it. There are three possible official exams offered by DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) in the Netherlands. The inburgering exam is the first exam and is on an A2 level.  This exam tends to be taken by those who need to inburger in order to meet the language requirements of the inburgering process (as it's the lowest level). The chances are that you're going to be looking at one of the two Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. There's "Programma I" at approximately a B1 level and "Programma II" at approximately a B2 level. This article is going to focus on information about these exams, and my advice and experience of taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. The exam is broken into th
Babbel

Babbel

App Reviews
I've used Babbel before, but almost exclusively the desktop app version. As I'm learning Spanish now, it was time to try the App version. Babbel is one of the few apps that teaches grammar alongside the other elements of a language and teaches it well. It's broken into little chunks that are brought up when needed, just as the lessons are broken into chunks that make it feel like you can squeeze a lesson in here and there without it becoming a huge commitment. The app has a variety of exercises that you can carry out, from typing in words, selecting the correct one, to following along and filling in the blanks in conversations. The latter doesn't hold back from presenting words and sentences that you haven't seen before but that you can guess from the context, which is a great method...
Lingodeer

Lingodeer

App Reviews
I was studying Japanese on Duolingo when I first heard of Lingodeer. As I got nearer and nearer the end of the Duolingo course, the numerous bugs and problems started to get to me and I wanted to switch. LingoDeer was a breath of fresh air. Firstly, whilst Duolingo is more a collection of sentences that have been organised into topics, Lingodeer is a designed course that's organised according to topics and grammar. Further, Lingodeer actually explains the grammar as well. In every category that's a full(ish) grammar explanation before the lessons themselves (although you do have to kind of look for it as it's not immediately obvious that it's there). For me, the difference between Duolingo Japanese and Lingodeer Japanese was like night and day. Where I often sat before Duolingo think...