Written to the song: That Girl — Justin Timberlake
“Smartphones are designed to get us to check them repeatedly — new emails, text messages, Facebook updates beckon through the day, urging us to constantly pull the device out of our pocket” — Liraz Margalit
65% of the time we spend using technology is spent using our phones. 85% of this phone time is dedicated to app-use (Rosoff, 2016). The average number of apps that individuals have on their phones is 27, leading to checking our phones and notifications an average of 150 times per day (SMW Staff, 2017). In a technologically advanced and technologically driven society, we have access to many applications on our phones, laptops, and tablets. Are these apps effective in helping us learn languages? Or, do they hinder our learning?
Individuals are drawn to using language learning apps rather than studying languages in-class, as our phones are easily accessible, non-judgemental (thankfully), and convenient. Additionally, many apps are free! Duolingo is the top free language learning app which teaches various language learning skills and vocabulary. There are 20 languages to pick from, and each lesson averages 4 minutes. Similar to how in-person language classes work, the app uses placement tests to place you in the correct language learning level. There are different activities teaching and testing vocabulary, sentence structure, and pronunciation through speech recognition software. As well, “gamification” (adding game-like features to learning) is used to create a fun learning environment and to assist with memory (Capita Translation, 2017). The app also schedules reminders to continue language learning, and also uses positive-reinforcement when progress is made. A study on the effectiveness on this language learning app shows that using this app for 34 hours is equivalent to taking a language course for one semester (Pearl, 2017). Furthermore, another study shows that 17 out of 18 students remember more information when learning with technology (Alex, 2007). I believe that using a language learning app like this one is a great tool to ameliorate in-class language learning — to provide students with a different platform to practice their vocabulary, pronunciation, and review conjugations at home and in the classroom.
Language applications can be accessible, helpful and fun! When the effort is put in and the app is accessed often, language apps can be as effective (and much more affordable) than studying a language at university. Have you tried it before?
A slideshow I created on this topic: https://www.slideshare.net/AnnaFrenkel3/language-learning-apps-76300850
Alex, Julie. “Does Using Technology Help Students Retain Information They Learn?” PENN State College of Education. N.p., 14 Apr. 2007. Web. 6 May 2017. <http://ed.psu.edu/pds/teacher-inquiry/2007/alexjinquiry0607.pdf>.
“Gamification — Gaming Is Not Just for Gamers.” Capita Translation and Interpreting. N.p., 03 May 2017. Web. 23 May 2017. <https://www.capitatranslationinterpreting.com/gamification/>.
Pearl, Mike. “Are Duolingo Users Actually Learning Anything Useful?” Vice. N.p., 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017. <https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/are-duolingo-users-actually-learning-anything-useful>.
Rosoff, Matt. “The App Explosion Is over.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 31 May 2016. Web. 19 May 2017. <http://www.businessinsider.com/average-number-of-apps-vs-time-spent-2016-5>.
Staff, SMW. “Millennials Check Their Phones More Than 157 Times Per Day.” New York, 18 Jan. 2017, socialmediaweek.org/newyork/2016/05/31/millennials-check-phones-157-times-per-day/.