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Smartphone Teaches New Languages
Park Ra Minjee  |  smt_mjp@sm.ac.
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승인 2015.06.06  11:49:05
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PHOTO BY PMJ
 
 

Globalization.  No longer is this word unfamiliar to us.  However, for a truly ‘globalized’ world, people should speak more than one language.  Fortunately, learning a new language is not hard work with a smartphone app.  Today, there are plenty of applications that help the user learn basic conversation skills in a variety of different languages such as Chinese, German, French, and Japanese.  Minjee, a reporter at SMT, decided to learn basic Chinese and German conversation through those applications.  She began her journey by downloading two apps, one for each language.

 

Get Ready to Be Multilingual

A search revealed so many types of apps that target learning a new language.  From spoken language to writing, the number of available apps was plentiful, and each application seemed to offer good sequential step programmes that help the user learn easily.  Since most of the writing applications asked for additional fees for direct feedback, the reporter decided to only look at apps that dealt with basic vocabulary and speaking skills.  She also came upon several apps that claimed to help the user with essential travel language, so the reporter decided that these applications would best benefit her short-period experiment learning because they focused on language vital to foreign travellers.  The apps targeting new vocabulary and speaking skills were devoid of stereotypical teachings, so initially, she found learning at the start quite easy and felt at ease with the uncontrolled learning pace the app allowed.  The reporter planned to learn two new words and one essential conversational phrase each day.  Her goal was to learn basic Chinese and German step by step.

   
 PHOTO BY PMJ

Ni Hao, Hello?

The Chinese learning application she downloaded was called ZiYi, and it included a program that could record the user’s voice whenever he or she spoke a word in Chinese.  The reporter wanted to start learning basic Chinese vocabulary and intonation.  Chinese is quite unique with its use of the intonation since words can completely alter their meaning depending on how they are spoken.  ZiYi offered definitions and pronunciations for each word offered on the app.  Overall, the application was quite colorful and charming.  The app also allowed learners to write directly on the touch screen so that they could practice writing Chinese characters.  The app seemed to teach the language in a manner comparable to how young babies learn language for the first time.  The key is to keep the learner interested.  In this respect, ZiYi motivates the user to continue learning.  In order to learn more systematically, the reporter first chose to focus on vocabulary.  In the vocabulary section, the screen gave definitions along with the actual Chinese character.  Also, because the user could view the root of the Chinese word—development from Chinese art—it was quite interesting.

   
 PHOTO BY PMJ

It took the reporter about a week, using the app 3 times during the week, to learn basic Chinese on her own.  Each hour she was able to learn and memorize 10 words and several sentences needed in real conversation.  To help the reporter see real-word application of the learning, the application also employed a small game in which a computerized voice spoke to the user.  Each time she started the game, she was transferred to a real life situation, where she could use the learnt Chinese language.  The reporter was able to use spoken Chinese by reading her part in scripted dialogues that the application offered.  The computerized voice took on the second person in the dialogue.  The free downloaded app was amazing since it conveyed and practiced almost every essential conversational word and phrase in Chinese.  Also, since she could write directly on the touch screen, she didn’t need any extra paper to practice on.  The reporter didn’t feel any hardship learning a new language, and she felt her leisure time was used effectively as she learnt it.

   
PHOTO BY PMJ

Adieu, Good Bye!

The downloaded German language application also offered initial learning procedures for users.  Each time the reporter touched the screen, computerized speaker read aloud the sentences in German.  It was quite convenient since there was no need for the user to search for correct pronunciation.  As the audio file presented words and sentences, the reporter recorded them in her own notebook.  This type of learning by listening and writing made it easy for her to study alone without an instructor helping her.

   
 www.naver.com

The reporter also spent 3 days a week learning German.  The app allowed her to hear various lengthy sentences and validate her understanding by matching the utterance to pictures.  Also, there were short quizzes that the learner could attempt at her own pace.  Although the app seemed to present more intermediate level language, it was not difficult to scan and understand the sentences.  In just 2 weeks, the reporter’s notebook was full of German vocabulary.  She made sincere effort to memorize words and practice writing in German in her notebook.  With confidence in her learning of essential words and sentences, she pressed the application procedure button, which allowed her to record her voice.  The app checked the correctness of her pronunciation by showing an ‘O’ or ‘X.’  The app required the user to speak a certain number of words or sentences.  If the user did not successfully pronounce a minimum number, the user had to repeat the entire speaking task.  The reporter also learnt she could review the text she had previously recorded.  The application was really exquisite in that it didn’t show much systematic problems while using it any time.  Most people think learning a language requires good speech abilities, but this German learning smartphone application breaks those thoughts.  The reporter felt she had learnt quite a lot and that one day, she could be a great German speaker through hard work using the application.

   
PHOTO BY PMJ

One Word with One Touch

Learning a foreign language is definitely not an easy task to do.  Even though we just try to study the language at a basic level, it is always hard to do alone.  Smartphone language applications help the user greatly to learn a new language.  The reporter believes that her reading and speaking skills could also develop with frequent use of a language app.  The reporter contends that the Chinese and German language learning applications had very detailed teaching formulas, which allow users to easy follow lessons.  Moreover, the software allows users to follow lessons at their own pace.  From now, there is no need to register for a language school or hire a tutor to learn a foreign language.  With smart application, it is easy to become multilingual.  Download the specific app for the language you want to learn and just follow the app’s software steps.  In no time at all, you will surely be speaking more than one language.

 

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