Virtual worlds among latest trends in language education


For instance, Wonder Kids, an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, offers foreign language instruction for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students in five languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The app features an audio-visual approach using flashcards, in addition to games such as puzzles, drawing, and matching. The app is free, but it offers in-app purchases.

Disney’s Learn Chinese: Toy Story 3 is a story-driven app for the iPad and costs $4.99. The app uses a read-along format and is based on Diglot Weave, an international teaching method. The app works by telling a story in the learner’s native language as well as in the language being learned. As the learner’s comprehension increases, more of the story is told in the new language.

Busuu offers free and paid iPhone and Android versions of its language learning app, which can be synched with busuu.com, an online language learning community. Features include key words and phrases, different topics that use day-to-day situations, and full language learning units.

iStart Spanish! is one in a series that also includes iStart Japanese! and iStart Chinese! The apps feature quizzes, flashcards, and rewards for beginners. Lessons include alphabets, pronunciation, and syllables, as well as a tutor that uses text message-like prompts to ask users to translate phrases.

iTranslate is a free tool for Apple products in a wide variety of languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, Korean, Spanish, and more. Users can translate written languages, and some languages offer text-to-speech abilities. The app features purchase options such as voice recognition.

 

Laura Ascione

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