UPDATE: Visit my Essential Language Learning Tools page for better product recommendations.
For a few dollars/pounds more, I highly recommend the Earworms ‘Rapid’ series. Check it out here.
I recently received a sample of the French edition of Elisabeth Smith’s In A Day iPhone/iPad apps from Hodder Education.
While I would usually be dismissive of any language product that has “in a day” attached to it, I was really impressed by this app’s unique style of delivery which is aimed at the complete beginner, and is non-grammatical with a focus on highly relevant vocabulary and expressions.
The app was built on the backbone of Mirai Language Systems (which has its own series of similar language-specific apps too which work in much the same way. E.g. Mirai Japanese).
The Elisabeth Smith In A Day series is also available in German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese and Turkish.
Here’s a video I put together to show you how it’s laid out and some of its features:
Elisabeth Smith and her method
Elisabeth’s a polyglot from Germany (now living in the UK) who is well-known for her contributions to the Teach Yourself series of books – in particular the books with ‘fast’, ‘rush-hour’, ‘instant’, etc. in their titles.
This is the promo video (WARNING: seriously cringeworthy promo video) for her Fast In A Day/In 6 Weeks series (which the iPhone app is based on):
She makes the point that most language courses are “too long and too tedious” and full of vocab and grammar that you won’t necessarily use which I definitely agree with.
Elisabeth’s aim is to implement what she considers to be necessary French phrases, vocabulary and expressions based on her own experience, and this is clear in the dialogue of French In A Day which doesn’t waste time on pointless target language content.
Similar to other language learning products (e.g. Earworms Musical Brain Trainer), the In A Day series focuses on dialogue between a learner (Andy) and the teacher (Elisabeth).
What I like and don’t like about the French In A Day iPhone app
- The way that Mirai Language Systems’ apps follow and read out each line of dialogue with the ability to quickly pause and repeat is really neat. I think this method of delivery is handy and would love to see more advanced-level language apps using the same system in future.
- Plenty of interesting dialogue interspersed with target language vocabulary and expressions.
- Built-in flashcard software with audio.
- At present there’s a launch sale so it’s only $1.99. Cheap as chips.
- Elisabeth Smith is a native German speaker and her French accent has a noticeable German sound to it. At this level it’s not a big deal but a native speaker would be better for the dialogue.
- Some of the dialogue has really lengthy English parts with little or no French which means you have to flick past it all to get to the actual target language material.
- In my opinion the Travel Tips section should be improved or left out. For example, there’s a tip in the French edition telling people to “go to the markets early in the morning because that’s when things are freshest“. Well, obviously.
Great idea for people wanting to get a taste of a language
Apps and audio products like this are usually aimed at travellers and business people who want to arm themselves with just enough target language to get around with.
I think an app like French In A Day is also great for people to dip their toes into a new language and learn a few of the basics before starting a course or serious study.
It’s a fun way to educate yourself with your iPhone or iPad while waiting on a bus or in a queue and only costs about two bucks.
French In A Day can be found in the Apple App store.
To check out the other languages (German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese and Turkish) just search ‘Mirai LLP’ in iTunes.
If you try out any of these other languages, please share your thoughts (good or bad) in the comment section below.