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marcchristensen

Language App frustrations

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Hi all!

I've been using language learning applications for a while now, sites like Memrise, Duolingo, and WeSpeke. Although these services are certainly valuable for language development, there's no denying that they only work effectively when used in conjunction with traditional language learning techniques. 

How do you guys feel about learning languages through apps? What issues do you feel are most pressing when it comes to sites like WeSpeke, GoSpeaky, etc.? 

Look forward to hearing your views!

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The biggest problem by far is context.
Most apps won't teach you how to use vocab in the right context and the grammar is super simple forever.
The second thing is that language apps never teach you how to speak (and if they do, they will never correct you).

As for "traditional language learning", it depends on what you mean by that one.
Traditional as in going to school, taking exams, cramming your new vocabulary into your brain by brute force?
Or traditional as in learning with easy mnemonics and spaced repetition combined?

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I hate ''Speaky'',  but then again... everyone has different experiences.   My problem with that kind of sites or apps is that finding a suitable language exchange partner is hard.  Specially if you are trying to learn Dutch.  My experience with the dutch speaking members was bad, when they sent me a message and I replied that was it most of he time.  I guess they weren't serious at all.  I tried o find Spanish speakers trying to earn Dutch, so at leas we'd have more to talk about since we both would have more in common, but nope.  This is my problem with this kind of sites...  

As for the others... Well, Duolingo has a lot limitations, but it's great for those who are just starting out.  After a while being told to write things that make no sense and won't swerve you in a real world situation gets old. 

As for Memrise... It's very useful, I actually like it,  specially because you can create your own word lists, but it does require a lot work.   

 

All in all, I  think all those apps are useful for learning, but as with everything... they come with their own issues and disadvantages.  Using them as a side aid is a good idea, but depending totally on them might lead you to failure... 

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In my opinion, I prefer a native of the language teach me the language or use of YouTube videos; language apps do not always make things sound like they do in reality.

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Trellum, you raise some really great points about the problems with current language exchange services. I agree that a huge problem with current services is that conversations lack direction, it's often hard to get past all the 'social' back and forth and onto useful conversations that develop your language skills. You're often left scrambling looking for things in common to talk about.

I really believe there is value in online language exchange, but I don't think the current services have cracked it.

So, I'm building my own! Check out http://www.languagepear.com, and let me know your thoughts!

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On 4/19/2016 at 4:10 AM, marcchristensen said:

Trellum, you raise some really great points about the problems with current language exchange services. I agree that a huge problem with current services is that conversations lack direction, it's often hard to get past all the 'social' back and forth and onto useful conversations that develop your language skills. You're often left scrambling looking for things in common to talk about.

I really believe there is value in online language exchange, but I don't think the current services have cracked it.

So, I'm building my own! Check out http://www.languagepear.com, and let me know your thoughts!

Oh my God, you are!?  I am checking it right now and it looks great, but I remember seeing a site where you were given a topic to talk about with the other person (depending on the interests of both of you).  Is your site like that?   If it is... I'm so going to sign up right now! Waaaaaaay to go! Being paired with someone with similar interest and give us a topic to talk about sounds awesome...!!!  It's such an engaging way to learn, better than messaging strangers on one of those language exchange buddy sites... you rarely find someone serious enough, and if you do most of the time the exchange turns sour. Finding a decent language exchange buddy (in one of those sites) is  almost as hard as online dating, lol. 

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Hi Trellum! Great to see you're interested in the service!

LanguagePear is all about facilitating focused and directed conversations so that every exchange is engaging. We're moving away from the 'social network with a language barrier' model that most exchange services use, and instead pair users up for discussion based on things they really care about. 

The feedback has been really great so far and I'm very excited for the future of the service!

Be sure to sign-up and spread the word! :)

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I love using these apps, and they're great for vocabulary, but they lack proper grammar teaching techniques. There's nothing that clearly explains grammar concepts, such as cases, the use of articles, and proper sentence structure. Many of the apps are based on memorization, rather than actually giving lessons. It's great for vocabulary, but not for learning the meat of a language's grammar. In the end, I have to rely on books and other websites, and sometimes even YouTube.

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I agree that learning through Apps is not good although it's fun. It's hard putting the things you learn into the real language, because every language is full of expressions. Learning a language by memorizing words is never worth it IMO.

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I think I have a more pessimistic view when it comes to learning languages through apps. They are certainly good supplementary aids, but only if you are already learning the language through a more traditional means. Personally, I need an instructor to physically be there to correct my mistakes and motivate me to work harder. With apps, the responses aren't as immediate and I retain less of the information if I'm not being pressured by a grade. 

But if getting a language teacher isn't an option, I would much rather recommend a language learning site over an app. I am currently taking Korean in school, but prior to that I self-studied using www.howtostudykorean.com and I can honestly say it has helped. I can barely say the same for some of the language apps I used like Hellotalk.

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Last year Duolingo was getting rave reviews all over the place, it appears that all the fuzz went away. I, for once, would like to get to know a person that was actually able to speak the language that they were learning fluidly by using Duolingo alone, even working as a translator as that appeared to be the idea behind Duolingo's business model.

I used it for a while, but I simply grew tired of it, the thing is that I don't know how much of it was my fault for not taking it seriously and how much was Duolingo's fault for not being engaging enough. In all honesty you could have intensive language classes with a certified instructor daily and if you don't make the effort to actually learn and practice you are going to be wasting your time, so I guess you can't blame the tool. but I believe the thing is not as popular as it was before, meaning that all those claims of people being fluid after a few months were fabricated or exaggerations.

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34 minutes ago, fcuco said:

Last year Duolingo was getting rave reviews all over the place, it appears that all the fuzz went away. I, for once, would like to get to know a person that was actually able to speak the language that they were learning fluidly by using Duolingo alone, even working as a translator as that appeared to be the idea behind Duolingo's business model.

I used it for a while, but I simply grew tired of it, the thing is that I don't know how much of it was my fault for not taking it seriously and how much was Duolingo's fault for not being engaging enough. In all honesty you could have intensive language classes with a certified instructor daily and if you don't make the effort to actually learn and practice you are going to be wasting your time, so I guess you can't blame the tool. but I believe the thing is not as popular as it was before, meaning that all those claims of people being fluid after a few months were fabricated or exaggerations.

I used Duolingo before, here's how I view the app: I only see Duolingo as a "fair" way to strengthen your knowledge in grammar and learning new words. My main issue with the app is context and practical use of phrases. Most of the sentences that were presented to me I deemed them to be little to no use. And for individuals like myself that want to embrace a new culture and interact with native speakers of any language, utilizing these language apps won't do you any good. Which is what made my interest in apps similar to this one fade. However, in the end, it all depends on what you're searching for. My desires are simply not met by these applications

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Well these are the ones where half of the time I am not sure whether or not my phone is the actual issue, or if it is the app.  That is probably the most frustration that I get, but that is with all apps and not just language apps.  When it comes to those specifically, I think that it is just the general sense of not having the full version or edition.  When it is on the phone, I cannot help but think that it is the shorthand version, and therefore not the correct term or word.  I think that it is just me psyching myself out, but it is still frustrating.

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I haven't really done studying with language apps except for Duolingo and that was like for 2 sessions, but I would definitely like it better if a native taught me how to speak it and how to talk to a person using the language. They know if you mess up something and then they would tell you to correct it, and it would stay in your mind better. It will cost you a lot more than an app because I think all the apps are free, but you're getting a lot more knowledge of the language that way. Also another great way to learn it and to pick it up is to go to the country where it's used the most often, since you're going to be forced to use it there and the learning experience would be so much better than studying it normally.

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I have to agree that most apps aren't designed to be used alone.  I've always used them as a way to study while I'm waiting in line or in a quiet moment between errands.  Apps have never been a foundation of my language learning.  They are like the frosting flower on top of the cake, pretty but mostly decretive.  I do find that I study more words than when I had to carry around note cards. 

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I totally agree! I have been using Duolingo for a while now and I know what basic words mean and how to write them. However, there is much difficulty when it comes to holding up a good conversation with someone speaking the language I am trying to learn. It is hard to hear and recognize what they are saying no matter how basic it is even if I know those basic terms. I feel that there is no substitution for the traditional language learning techniques which involves being able to recognize words quickly and speak it back quickly.

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What's really frustrating about these tools is the fact that they teach a somewhat different language than the one who is used currently. Try understand what a native French is saying. I think that the way we speak in our native language is a bit different than the way the language is taught in classes, reason why people, including myself, have problems immersing themselves in the languages we are trying to learn.

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On 8/26/2016 at 7:08 PM, Portugirl said:

 It is hard to hear and recognize what they are saying no matter how basic it is even if I know those basic terms.

There are just so many subtleties that come with a language that it is nearly impossible to pick them up if you are constantly worrying about the words, and not those nuances.  I know that when I talking to someone I can almost see my reflection in them as I look up into my head and try to remember what the words mean, it is like an active translation going on.  Much easier if you know that basic words.

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I am learning language traditional way. Looking into the books, learning words from dictionary, speaking with the mirror, listening to the audio. I am aware about some language learning tools,however, I have not used them. The problem with language learning apps is I need to be online and slow internet is a big problem here.

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Those apps are all just aids to learning. The best way to learn a language, the way I see it, is to live in a community which uses that language natively. If that's not possible, then the next best thing is to surround ourselves with that language. For example, put up posters on the walls in that language. Listen to radio broadcasts in that language. Watch TV programmes in that language. Read newspapers in that language. I call this learning a language by osmosis. It's sort of like absorbing the language through as many of our senses as possible. Maybe even eat food of the people who use that language natively. It gives a better context to the language we are learning.

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Apps help a lot if you can find the right one. Of course, the whole point of using an app is to just get used to the language. You could simply use the BBC language website to do the same thing as well. Apps don't try to teach you absolutely everything. So, you will still need video tutorials or human tutors to teach you the intricacies of the language. Finally, you'd need a "testing" ground which an app cannot provide unless it connects you with a native speaker.

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