Guest Blog: Simple tools to improve your fluency and comprehension
Germany is a friendly, accommodating place, and you might be able to get by on your English for a while; but if you want to be feel at home and independent there, learning the language is essential. Here are some smartphone apps to get you started.
1. Speak German Free (Android)
This is a great app to get you started speaking and learning German before you leave home. It only includes 100 essential phrases, but it’s enough to start training yourself in the sound of spoken German, and give you the words to ask native speakers for help improving your language skills. Any experienced language learner will tell you that your skill will improve dramatically once you start using the language on a regular basis, and this app will give you the tools to do that.
2. German Translator Free (Android)
Once you get an ear for German, you’ll start to piece together full sentences that you hear on the street or on TV. This app is great for those times when you understand the context, but a certain word or phrase eludes you. This translator can automatically translate any text you receive in German; but the niftiest feature is probably the German/English voice recognition. You can record any phrase in spoken English or German and get the translator’s best guess as to the meaning. Any electronic translation tool will get things wrong, so you don’t want to lean too heavily on this app, but it’s invaluable for intermediate speakers to fill in gaps.
3. Flashcards Buddy Pro (Android)
This is a general solution for any memorization task, but it’s great for learning the conjugation of German verbs, or simply cementing your vocabulary when you’ve got a minute in a waiting room or on public transport. There are other flash card apps for smartphones, but this is the most popular and sophisticated on the Android Market. You can set your phone to read the flash cards aloud to you, create timed or untimed quizzes, shuffle the cards, and even sort correct answers from incorrect ones so you can isolate the words that give you the most trouble.
4. MyWords: Learn German Vocabulary (iPhone)
While it’s a little pricey, this app is a good way to keep your learning experience fresh and varied by giving you ten new words to memorize every day, including the English definition and a recording of a native speaker pronouncing each one. If you donít master a particular word in a day, you can save it to your personal word bank and study it later. A simple matching quiz format helps you to firm up the connection between the German word and its English meaning in your mind. If you take it seriously, learning ten words every day will tremendously boost the speed at which you learn the language. One of this app’s limitations is the need for a wireless connection, but T-Mobile wireless internet has hotspots all over Germany. It’s also over-priced and too fast-paced for those only casually interested in the language; but if you’re a dedicated, spare-no-expense German learner, this is the app for you.
5. Byki German (iPhone)
This is a broader German-learning app that is a bit more helpful in learning grammar and usage at a beginner level. It includes about 1,000 common words and phrases, which you can actually search for on Twitter to see how native speakers use them in context. Another interesting feature on this app is the ability to download user-generated vocabulary lists to keep learning once you’ve mastered Byki‘s official vocabulary. It’s a little pricey, given the content, but the options for German learning apps on the iPhone are limited.