I'm getting my first smartphone soon and want to learn a language...
July 24, 2013 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I will soon be getting my first smartphone adn one of the "smart" things I would like to use it for is to assist me in learning a new language (Russian). I'm looking for suggestions on phones and apps to do this.

I'm 90% sure I'm going with one of the following phones:
Samsung Galaxy S3 or 4
LG Optimus L9

My current language learning materials are mostly books, but I do have a native speaking friend and a not-to-often used live mocha account (because I'm not on the computer much at home).

What stuff (apps, audio lessons, etc) can I use on a smartphone to learn a new language and is there any particular device better suited for this?
posted by WeekendJen to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Check to see if your library offers Mango Languages. There's an app for it, and they offer a lot of languages in Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Look for a spaced repetition software flashcard app. You can then load the flashcards into the app on the phone, and practice memorizing vocabulary anywhere!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:56 AM on July 24, 2013

I've found the Memrise app to be easy, fast, and fun for language learning purposes. It should be compatible with all of the devices you're considering.

Here is a list of all of their Russian courses, and here's an example of the interface: Learn Basic Russian.
posted by divined by radio at 11:03 AM on July 24, 2013

Anki is a free, open source spaced repetition flashcard app that can sync between any number of phones and computers. It's been invaluable to me in studying languages. I find Anki most useful for building my own flashcard collections, but you can also download other users' shared collections if you want.

All three of the phones you listed run recent versions of Android, so they should all be equally capable of running the same apps.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:05 AM on July 24, 2013

I also endorse Anki. The Android version is AnkiDroid. There are many community decks, but I always make my own decks based on the vocabulary from my books and other study materials.

You also may want to make vocabulary decks based upon word frequency. I have this book of the most common 10,000 Russian words, but it may be a bit steep in price. For free alternatives, you may want to check out Wikipedia's Russian word frequency list (or Russian Wikipedia's list) or OpenSubtitles' list. But, if you can spare $63 for the book from Amazon, I highly recommend it. It provides example sentences to show usage and accent marks.

Mango is fine for oral drills if your library has it. You also might try borrowing Pimsleur from your library and loading it onto your phone. I do not think Pimsleur is that great for language learning because it presents such a small vocabulary, but I think it is quite good for drilling listening and pronunciation.

The Princeton Russian course is quite good and free. You could load the PDFs and mp3s on your Android device, too.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2013

Rosetta Stone has smartphone apps and offers Russian. It's not free though.
posted by Dansaman at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2013

Pimsleur offers spaced-repetition audio lessons on CD that work great. You might find a library that has them and rip them to your phone

I just finished German 1 and it's been really easy.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2013

Duolingo has a great Android app. I believe their iPhone one is good too but I've never used it. Android incarnation I will vouch for though. They don't offer Russian yet, but they are adding new languages so it's worth keeping an eye on.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:49 AM on July 25, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, I'm well on my way with these suggestions. I did run into a little roadblock with Ankidroid but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:38 AM on July 26, 2013

I agree - Rosetta Stone has apps for your phone that are great! It is worth the money.
posted by Shrek77 at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2013

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