MerlionWords: iPhone Video App Review
We’ve had the good fortune to see several awesome language learning apps around here lately. The latest is something really special, with intelligent learning reinforcement and a colorful user interface. The app is MerlionWords and it comes to us from Melvyn Kwan.
MerlionWords is one of the first apps we’ve seen that takes a practical approach to teaching users both alphanumeric languages (specifically French and Spanish) and several common non alphanumeric languages, like Korean, Japanese and Chinese, side by side. It breaks words up by category, then users see and hear the word in English and the second language alongside a picture representation of the word. Then there’s an amazing tracing feature where you can actually get hands-on experience writing the words. It’s a really cool way to practice.
As awesome as this app is, with its sweet price tag and intelligent teaching style, we were missing a few features that really could have made the app pop. First, we wish it contained a common phrases or dialog section. It’s great that the app can teach you how to say toilet in five new languages, but what good is that if you can’t ask where the bathroom is?
Another feature that would have really helped out is a basic alphabet explanation. Hey, I know what alpha numeric numbers and letters look like, and I can practice writing words in Korean, Japanese and Chinese all day, but until I know what each symbol stands for, it’s a bit useless.
Otherwise, we are entirely impressed with the MerlionWords iPhone app. The content is great and, as you’ll see after the cut, the execution isn’t half bad either.
Layout & Design:
Design-wise, we’re also big fans of MerlionWords. The app is universal, however we think it really shines on the iPad since there’s much more room to practice tracing, although the iPhone version does have a cool extra screen for this so at least it’s full screen.
The cartoon images are bright and whimsical, navigating the app is a breeze and adjusting the language is also simple. MerlionWords isn’t the glossiest app out there, but we have no major complaints here.
Since the MerlionWords app is free (yeah that wasn’t a typo! It’s really free.) it is supported by advertisements. However, these are kept small and unobtrusive. There’s only one advertisement that we noticed, and it’s on the page with all the word categories, tucked at the top of the app. While the ads may not be annoying, it does mean the app may not be suitable for young children. We suggest turning on airplane mode if you plan on giving this app to a young one, just for safety’s sake.
Otherwise, the app’s a steal. We do hope it grows to include our suggestions or other improvements, and look forward to seeing more from MerlionWords in the future.
MerlionWords iPhone app requires iOS 4.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.
The iPhone App Review’s rating: