How many languages do you speak? Personally, I can only fluently speak one language – English. I do know some Spanish, French and Italian, but only a few words and phrases.
Growing up, we had to take a language when we got into 7th grade, and we had to take at least two years of a foreign language in order to graduate. I took French, although I should have taken Spanish. Where I currently live we have a high Spanish speaking population, and I wish I had taken Spanish so I could communicate with people better.
After two years of French the only thing I retained was what we learned the very first day in class (I’m lucky if I remember what I had for breakfast this morning), and the numbers 1-10. That’s it!
Back when I was in my early 20’s I worked for AT&T as a long distance/international telephone operator (are there still operators?). We handled New York City and other areas of New York. As a result, we have a lot of foreign speaking customers. There was a special call center to handle non-English speaking customers, but the trick was to know what language they were speaking in order to figure out which foreign language speaking operator to transfer the call to.
I took it upon myself to learn different language. Back then all we had were books and cassette tapes. I took out books and tapes to teach myself how to say phrases that pertained to my job in Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Japanese and several other languages. I was so good at it that I impressed my managers and they promoted me to the in-charge person. I was 19 when I was promoted to that position (that made the long time employees not happy with me).
Sadly, a foreign language is a “use it or lose” it sort of thing. If you don’t use it frequently you forget it. That is what happened to me. I still know a few things in Italian, and how to count a little in Japanese, but that is about it.
Learning another language is not that easy. They say the best time to learn is when you are a child because you retain more of what you are taught. I wish I had known that when my kids were little, because I would have found a way to teach them another language when they were in elementary school, instead of junior high. My daughter to many years of Italian (7th – 11th grades). She graduated in 2015. Ask her to say something in Italian and she can’t remember any of it. Had she been taught in elementary school, she would have retained a lot of what she was taught.
I can always try and teach myself a new language, but I find it hard to read a book and learn. I’m more of a tactile/visual learner, which means I learn better by doing and seeing things.
There is a set of apps that can help you and/or your child learn a new language that is fun and easy. It’s called Drops (Droplets is the child version). They are both apps that are available in your app store.
I’ll focus more on Drops, but let it be known that Droplets is just the kid friendly, parent approved, version of the same app.
Drops is more than just a language app. It’s an interactive language app which helps you to learn words and phrases easily and in a fun way.
The app lets you learn so many different languages. You can choose one, or eventually learn all of them. It’s totally up to you.
Aside from the traditional languages that many people try to learn (Spanish, French, Italian, German), Drops also has Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, and Turkish. They also have other lesser known languages like Tagaloc, Samoan, Maori, Estonian and Ainu. There are other languages not listed here. Droplets has the same available languages, so parents and children can learn them at the same time. For example, if you are planning a trip to France in the fall, both you and your child can use the Drops/Droplets apps to learn some French words and phrases.
Drops has a fun way of teaching you a new word/phrase. Take for example I want to learn Italian. The app starts off with something simple – Food.
Drops will say the word in the language you are learning, along with a drawing. I would recommend that you say the word along with the app so that you can learn it better.
Next, the app might show you two different drawings and a word in that language. You need to swipe the word towards whatever drawing you think represents the word.
Another option the app might give you is one of the words you just learned, but with the letters scrambled. It’s up to you to place the letters in the correct order to spell the word represented by the picture on your screen.
The app might also show you a drawing with two different words (in the language you are learning). It’s up to you to choose the correct word to match the drawing.
You might also get a screen with a drawing and and a bunch of random letters. It’s up to you to swipe through the letters to spell the word.
I know some of this might sound confusing, but it’s not. The app is super easy to use and to navigate.
You can download the app for free, but if you want to unlock all the “bells and whistles,” I would recommend purchasing the app.
If you use the free option you can learn any language you want. The downside is that you are timed on the app and only have a limited time to use it each day. But that is OK. You can still use the app every day. If you are like me, you’ll want to use it past the limited time (with the paid option you have unlimited time to use it each day). To be totally honest with you, I enjoy using this app so much that I find myself using it for 30-60 minutes at a time. You can easily get “lost” playing the app because it’s so enjoyable to use.
The app does keep track of how you are doing. It will let you know what words you got right and so forth. This will help you see your progress.
I have tried a few languages on both Drops and Droplets (I have both). Some languages are easier to learn than others. It’s not the apps fault. It’s just that some languages, like Spanish, is easier to learn than Mandarin. It’s because the words are a bit more difficult to pronounce. Some languages show how the word is written in their language, and reading Arabic (for example) is not as easy as French.
The languages appear to be spoken by native speakers too, so you can hear how the word is suppose to sound when spoken.
Overall I think Drops and Droplets are amazing apps. They are super easy to use and I personally have learned a lot. I have tried several languages and I’ve learned a lot. Right now I have resorted to only study one language at a time. I am currently using Drops to learn Spanish since I live and work in an area with a large Spanish speaking community.
I have tried several language learning apps, and I find that Drops and Droplets are by far the best one I have used.
Are you, or your child, interested in learning a new language?
What language do you wish you could learn?
*I received a free membership to both Drops and Droplets in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.