Ahh, the novelty of a new app. We’ve all done it – downloaded a game and become obsessed with it for weeks. Need to pay cash to upgrade my farm? TAKE MY MONEY. Need a high score to win a sofa for your hotel? Bang goes your lunch break. Whilst my language app did not want money (and I was not winning a sofa) the same applied – as I’d some knowledge of various words and phrases, I was screeching through the first few chapters. Hello, goodbye, please, thank you. In 5 minutes, I had completed one section, then another and then another. Easy! I would spend 10-15 minutes a day and I’d checked off so many parts of the app I felt like I was going to “complete” this “game” in months.
Of course, it then didn’t take long for the app to introduce me to putting these individual words into sentences. Short ones, but enough for me to take a little time and still check off that section. I really felt like I was progressing, I felt smart and most importantly, I was enjoying it. I wanted to log back in the next day and learn some more. My log-in streak was at 30-something days and going strong.
Was I making mistakes? Yes. Does the app re-visit these mistakes so you can try again? Also, yes. The first major hurdle I hit was making the classic mistake of thinking that a German sentence is structured in the same way as an English sentence, and so I was just translating word for word and placing them in the same order. WRONG. I’d get so confused as to why I’d get the task wrong – the downside of an app is that it doesn’t tell you WHY. The sentence structure is different. Why? I don’t know because it doesn’t tell you. It just tells you if you’re right or wrong. I guess the app doesn’t want to delve into it, perhaps because this would make it “messy”, diverging away from the simple structure of learning a sentence.
But I could feel frustration creeping in. I was slowing down and I was starting to skip days. It wasn’t fun anymore and I was losing interest. After all, if you are not told why you are making a mistake, how are you meant to learn and move on? The one saving grace of this app is that it has a section where you can read short stories, so when I was feeling too frustrated, I’d read a few stories and see if I could learn some new words and sentences, then return to the lessons and try again.
This is when I realised that this was going to take a long time. I was going to need help and support at some point, to help fill in the gaps and to help me to understand why – good thing I know a few teachers, eh?!
Do you also get frustrated when using language learning apps? Are you feeling like you’re missing out on that human interaction? Look at our foreign language training packages, and potentially get to know a few teachers – just like Ann-Marie.