Apps to improve English whilst driving
September 29, 2022 1:49 PM   Subscribe

My wife wants to improve her English. She currently has a middle level—she can read and hold a conversation but not fluently and she makes grammar mistakes. She has a thirty minute commute each way and would like to use this time to improve. Looking for language apps that you don't have to interact with too much (because driving) or maybe some sort of podcast/show/youtube channel.
posted by signal to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What is your wife's native language? One option could be something like Pimsleur (which is an audio course that comes in many flavors like "English for Spanish Speakers") or Rocket Language which looks like a competitor.
posted by danceswithlight at 2:07 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Based on this article, I would suggest looking for something that is well within her existing level of comprehension. So if she has a middle level, look for beginner level media on a topic she finds uninteresting.
posted by aniola at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: danceswithlight: "What is your wife's native language? "

posted by signal at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2022

I’m learning in the opposite direction and I’m a huge fan of the Duolingo Spanish Podcast, so I’d recommend their English podcast for Spanish speakers if it’s of similar quality. I like that it’s not purely about grammar etc but actually about topics I’d be interested in hearing in my own language, just in a slow, clear version of the target language with transcripts available if I want them, and context info like key vocabulary and accent things/regionalisms to look out for.
posted by music for skeletons at 4:44 PM on September 29, 2022

When I was becoming more fluent in French, something that helped me immensely was consuming media in French that didn't involve reading or writing. Watching movies or tv with or without subtitles, listening to radio news broadcasts, etc. It helped me get the grammar, the rhythm of the language, and the "natural speaking" down better. Even if I didn't understand every word at first, more and more just "clicked" eventually and helped with my accent.

Maybe she could try listening to podcasts about things she finds interesting, or audiobooks?
posted by erst at 5:02 PM on September 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I personally will listen to ANY podcast that interests me, and so far, I haven't encountered any podcast hosts with significant accents so far. :)
posted by kschang at 6:00 PM on September 29, 2022

I do mean this but the old Children's Television Worlshop episodes (I found them excellent material for American English), and on yt, look for episodes of Mind Your Language. It's a British sitcom about an English night school in the 70s/80s, so beware the norms at the time. But I like it because the diction are all very clear even as the non-English characters all had to use ethnic stereotypes at fairly regular speed of speech, and the many kinds of accents personally gave me good anchoring of figuring out the 'set point' where despite the different pronunciations how we can understand each other in English.

And in terms of current programming, check out Netflix's range of African shows. African Anglophones (and Francophones!) have the clearest English diction hands down compared to anyone else on the planet. I stand by this. The various accents are actually helpful.
posted by cendawanita at 8:33 PM on September 29, 2022

Rachel's English on Youtube is an absolute favorite for learners of American English.
posted by Coffeetyme at 7:45 AM on September 30, 2022

I second pimsleur. Each session is 1/2 hour and it is 100% audio. The lessons build upon each other. I did it for Spanish several years ago and, after completing 3 levels, a Spanish instructor I hired in Buenos Aires was impressed with my progress.
posted by parkerposey at 8:54 AM on October 1, 2022

Pimsleur's English for Spanish speakers. They have 3 levels so she should start on level 2 or 3. It's a $20.99/month subscription for the app or you can just buy the CDs.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2022

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