What is the best way to learn a language? Apart from having the interest and passion to do so, the learning process has to be fun, enjoyable, slightly challenging but motivational enough to keep you going. It must have the core principles needed to attain mastery – repetition, grammar, continuously growing vocabulary and the ability to naturally combine words into usable sentences.
My friend, Eoin Kennedy, CEO of Zone Digital, teamed up with Natasha Lynch, Director & Owner of the Essential French College recently to bring all these elements together in the newly launched app “Essential French”
I’ve been playing with the app, and am slightly horrified at how far my French has fallen! The app feels like a game with different levels.
It starts off with a quick run-through of vocabulary. The second stage has the French vocab written and spoken, enhancing both visual and auditory learning. You are presented with three possible translations and have a time limit to choose the correct one. You need to get at least 80% correct to see the next level. The app is targeted at leaving cert students, so this is equivalent of a B1 grade. The format of the third phase initially looks the same, but it’s all in the details. The translations are much more difficult. The differences are small, spelling or punctuation or the proper use of “de, du or de la” for example
Personally I found this level MUCH more challenging and had to do the same level three times in order to see the next level. There is a cute little blonde cartoon caricature of Natasha, cheering you on throughout the lesson “Allez! Allez!” (Let’s go!)… I’m wondering if that is part of the drill or only comes up if you’re taking too long. I’ll have to improve my speed and let you know!
The last stage of the first lesson allows you to construct phrases yourself, giving you a variety of words to choose from to piece together.
As you progress, there is a timed element, so you can race against yourself to beat your own score.
The app is formatted in such a way that it offers both repetition and variety. Repetition is vital for mastery and variety is essential for motivation. The lessons are fun, and feel more like a game than a lesson.
The app officially launched on Wednesday. I’m posting a few photos from the launch event. But they did a soft launch a few days previous, only revealing access to the app via snapchat. Since the app is targeted at Leaving Cert students, the medium to reach them is simply brilliant. I can’t quite get my head around snapchat. I’ve half-joked that I must be too old for it. But last night I watched Natasha’s snapchat story. She is absolutely brilliant. She shares the French and English translation for the videos she’s taking. I found myself laughing out loud at her antics, while repeating the French phrases.
Clearly her fun, personal approach is working, as the app reached the top free educational app in the app store before it even officially launched, topping popular language apps such as DuoLingo.
I’m so excited to keep using this app and get my French up to par, and even more excited to see the limitless success this app will see!
It’s available in the App Store and the Google Play store. The first level is free and you can purchase a second and third level for €5.99.