I mentioned how I’m learning Japanese in a previous post about learning languages. I have tried just about every app in existence to see which one works best and have finally found one I absolutely LOVE based on a recommendation from one of my customers: LingoDeer! To celebrate this terrific find and thanks to LingoDeer’s generosity, I’m hosting a giveaway where 3 lucky winners will get a lifetime subscription to LingoDeer (Note: This giveaway is over, so I’ve removed that part of this post). Before I get to the giveaway details, I want to share the details of this terrific language-learning app!
LingoDeer currently features 9 different languages: Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Russian. I was told that they are also going to add Italian this year and are open to adding other languages in the future when the right talent joins the team. LingoDeer is also committed to expanding and improving the languages they currently feature especially the Asian language courses.
The app was originally designed for Asian languages (and that continues to be the main focus), but when I use it to brush up on my German, it shines just as much as it does for Japanese!
Learning any language can be difficult, but learning an Asian language (for an English speaker) is a bit more of a challenge (at least for me, lol). First, you have to learn an entirely new “alphabet.” In Japanese, this means you have to learn hiragana, katakana, and finally kanji.
Lingo Deer starts you out learning the basic alphabet with the proper stroke order for some of the languages like Japanese and Korean. With Japanese, LingoDeer teaches you the basic hiragana and katakana. Kanji are introduced as sight reading. but you can always have the option to see the phonetic hiragana (or the English letter based romaji) above the kanji to help you read.
Other languages in LingoDeer also start out with the alphabet, so you can learn any special characters or pronunciation. The Chinese lessons teach pinyin and a set of “survival” characters. I think LingoDeer alphabet lessons are the best for Korean and Japanese, but they are always working on making their app better and adding more features, so it’s possible the other languages will get the same level of introductory “alphabet” lessons.
After the optional alphabet section, you start the lessons. After trying a boat load of other apps, Lingo Deer turned out to be one of the BEST with just the right amount of difficulty, perfect lesson lengths that aren’t overwhelming, and grammar explanations to help further your understanding.
Lessons start out with optional learning tips. After you’ve completed a lesson, you can click on the stopwatch icon for a quick pop quiz to practice vocabulary and other concepts.
The exercises are varied to keep interest high and to help build retention and understanding. Some of the exercises are:
- Match a picture to a spoken word
- Match English to Japanese
- Choose the correct translation
- Fill in the blank
- Drag and drop to spell words and create sentences
- Multiple choice
- Drag a phrase into the correct position in a sentence
- Listen and choose the correct word
- Speak and compare your pronunciation to a native speaker
In the screenshot below, you can’t just guess to get a correct answer! You have to build the sentence by dragging and dropping the correct hiragana and spell out every word.
I found this to be challenging at first, because with other programs I could just “guess” the correct answer by reading one or two words in a sentence. Having to spell out every word in an exercise like this really reinforces the material in a way that discourages cheating.
When I was using other Japanese programs, I had a hard time differentiating between some of the basic grammar concepts. Lingo Deer has you learning things in context AND provides additional explanation, so you aren’t left guessing.
In the above screenshot, I can touch each word to see a detailed explanation. I can also press the microphone icon to record myself saying the sentence and then compare it to a native speaker. Unlike some apps, speaking is optional, so if you are in a quiet environment, you can still progress through the lessons without having to make a peep.
There is a review for each lesson so that you never forget what you’re learning. You can review grammar, vocabulary, or both at the same time. Review is also built into the lessons so that grammar and other things you learned from previous lessons are reinforced gently.
Knowledge cards in the review section give you more info about grammar and structure:
You can also download your lessons to work offline!
LingoDeer also features a progress chart, badges, awards, and a ranking system to stay motivated and to track your learning.
With other apps I sometimes felt frustrated during my language lessons, but LingoDeer leaves me feeling encouraged and happy with my progress. I also find myself retaining the lessons better than most other apps due to the lesson structure.
LingoDeer is available via Android or the Apple app store:
Take a look at the gallery for more LingoDeer screenshots. Click on an image to see it full-size.
LingoDeer is a great foreign language learning app!