There are lots of language learning apps on the market. I’ve tried a few, in my attempts to improve my knowledge of foreign languages, or to pick up the basics of a new one. So I was pleased when MosaLingua asked me to review one of their apps, and I set to work brushing up my Italian.
Why Use a Language Learning App?
It’s always good to have a few words of the local language when you’re travelling. For one thing, it makes life easier when using public transport or ordering food in restaurants. For another, people appreciate you making the effort, even if you don’t manage much more than “please” and “thank you”. And for countries that you visit regularly, learning the language is the only real way of getting inside the culture.
I travel frequently to Italy and I’ve been trying to learn the language for years. But there are no classes locally and I needed to find another method. I soon discovered the advantages of using an app. For those who are short of time, it can be fitted into a few spare moments each day. It is convenient: you can learn whether you are at home, in a hotel, or on the move, and you don’t need any equipment other than your phone or other mobile device. And you have an inbuilt system of reminders and reinforcement.
When I started with MosaLingua I was prompted to set my objectives (work, study or travel) and to take a short test to determine my starting level. I started at level 4, allowing me to skip Basics and Getting By, and got down to some Basic Conversation. I could learn flash cards with useful words and phrases, or I could follow one of the pre-recorded dialogues. Every so often there was a “bonus feature”. This might be a motivational tip, learning advice, or even an Italian joke.
MosaLingua works on the “spaced recognition system”, which commits learning to long term memory by reviewing phrases and vocabulary at regular intervals. It works best if you use it twice a day, for five minutes at a time, a schedule that most people should be able to commit to. One feature I particularly liked was that you can record yourself and play it back. (Correction: I don’t like listening to my attempts at speaking Italian, but I know it’s good for my progress!)
Free and Premium Versions
MosaLingua can be used on IOS or Android devices, and they are about to launch a desktop app. Casual learners will find the free version of MosaLingua perfectly acceptable; it is worth trying this first if you are not sure if a language learning app is right for you. But for a small fee you can access the Premium version, giving you a host of extra features, including grammar lessons and learning tips. And you can buy extra packs for specialised vocabulary such as slang or current events.
To perfect a language you need to immerse yourself in it, and you are unlikely to become fluent just by using an app. But I found MosaLingua helpful for building up my vocabulary, improving my pronunciation and, perhaps most important, keeping the language fresh in my mind. It compared favourably with other language learning apps that I’ve used. For me the best features were the ability to record speech and the mix of approaches, including the bonus features, which helped to keep the learning interesting. The main downside is that, although MosaLingua’s apps cover the major European languages, they do not currently feature lesser known or non-Western languages. However, for those languages that are available, I can recommend it as a learning method.
Thanks to MosaLingua for letting me try the Premium version of “Learn to Speak Italian”.