Learning a new language is a serious challenge, especially when you take the more “institutionalized” approach, as opposed to full immersion. As a teacher and student of languages, I’ve found that exposure to the language in as many ways as possible is always beneficial – which, I’m guessing, is the reason behind Babbel creating an iPhone app to compliment their online language learning courses.
I tested out their Portuguese Mobile Vocabulary Trainer after signing up for the course itself. Once you log in to the app, it syncs with your online Babbel account. However, this app isn’t a way to complete your course online – it’s additional help on vocabulary, and quite useful as a standalone as well.
Portuguese Mobile has over 3,000 vocabulary words divided into over 25 categories like communication, feelings, relationships, food, society, culture and media. Each of those is further divided into subcategories, and each time you complete one, you’ll see a satisfying little green check next to it. Every subcategory includes an introduction to the words and phrases, a repetition exercise, and a vocabulary overview.
Every page, every exercise comes with an image and a quality audio recording of a native speaker. The automatic speech recognition tool can easily be bypassed, or you can repeat the word into your mic until the program gives it an acceptable rating. I have to say, it seems pretty accurate – I actually lived in Salvador and speak with a Bahian accent, while this app seems to teach what I believe is a Carioca (Rio) accent, so every now and then I got a particularly low score. But if you say the word like you hear it in the recording, your score will be high.
Your other option on the main menu, aside from “Vocabulary,” is “Review Manager.” This manager keeps track of where you struggle, adding in vocab that you need to focus on based on your past performance. This app will make a great addition to your Portuguese study habits.
The Babbel language course apps are available in a total of 7 languages (English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, French, and of course Portuguese).
Portuguese Mobile [iTunes Link] is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.