App Review: Language Coach / Travel Interpreter

by Chiyin on Jun 24th, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

Want to learn another language?  Or planning a trip overseas?  More likely than not there’s an app for it in the App Store and this time it comes from developer Jourist in the form of Language Coach and Travel Interpreter. So lets take them out for a spin (thanks to Lewis at Jourist for letting us try the apps).

The first thing you’ll notice is both apps share the same set of languages and phrases and it’s a sizable list, with 23 languages to choose from. It includes the usual suspects such as Chinese and Spanish, and also some not so common like Czech and Slovak. Not sure how many people will want to learn those languages or travel to those parts of the woods but they are there.

Both apps also share a very similar user interface. You pick a language and it shows you a list of phrases categories and inside those, well are the phrases. Each phrase is accompanied by a picture and written out in the language as well as phonetically. To hear the pronunciation you press play. Very straight forward.

The difference between the two comes in the form of an exercise/test section in Language Coach. Here the app presents you with the picture and written phrase and you have to select what the phrase is. The test section is a bit more interesting, it has an analyzer that will tell you how good your pronunciation is, although during my test I found it to be hit and miss, maybe I need to try it at a quieter location.

Now, the question is, can you really learn another language with an app like this? I’m not so sure you can. You’ll definitely learn some useful phrases but not really a language. I think both these apps make for great travelling companions and will help you out in a pinch. As a serious learning tool, the foundation is there but the developer needs to concentrate on a single language at a time and not just rely on phrase memorization.

So, if you want to learn a language? I don’t think it’s ready for that yet. Maybe in the future the developer can build different packages with more in depth content. But if you are travelling overseas, this is definitely a good way to learn basic phrases, and for $9.99 it is much better than getting one of those travel books.

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