Learning foreign languages – Papapapaya

I have decided to refresh my French language skills. I already had French in school for seven years so I know the grammar and don’t want to go to class again. I just need to learn more words so I was looking for a vocabulary training app.

There are several applications that promise to help you. (Just ignore all those iPhone ports in the App Store – you know them by their names which usually are “Learn Chinese”, “Learn Inuit”, etc). I wanted something flexible and Mac like.

Finally I found Papapapaya (sic!) which is a quite powerful vocabulary trainer but easier to use than the competition (like ProVoc that I found way to complicated).

Papapapaya also has a different approach how to organize your words. There are no folders but just 5 Memory Levels to which the programm automatically assigns your words. So if you add a new word it will be “Unknown” but each time you answer it correctly in the Quiz it will rise one level up to the “Memory Vault” If you answer it wrong it will fall to the previous level. According to the App description this shall reflect how well you know your words. You have to get used to this and I think some people might find it a bit confusing but personally I find it a more useful than folders.

After all this word organization is heavily used in the built-in Quiz. Apparently words you know not so well are asked more often than words that have already reached a higher level (and thus are known better). So the Quiz can automatically pick the words that Papapapaya thinks you should rehearse now. But if you don’t trust the algorithm you can customize the word selection yourself.

What I like most the statistics. Not only can you see the number of words you have learned but there is also a nice graphic mode where you can see your progress over time. There is also some kind of prediction that tells you how much words you will know in one week, one month, one year, if you keep up your learning speed. Anyway this does not make sense in my case because I know much more words than I have entered in  the App. But I think for beginners this might be encouraging.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch you probably will like to know that there is also a free iPhone companion App (also called Papapapaya). Papapapaya can sync your words between both platforms over Dropbox (you have Dropbox, right?).
This is very convenient because syncing happens automatically. There is no sync-button and nothing to set up (except your Dropbox account). And in my experience it worked flawlessly.

Product: Papapapaya 1.4
Price: $20.00 (€15,00)  / Free (iPhone version)
Requirements: Mac OS 10.5
PublisherMr. Fridge Software

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