Hey Language Learners and those curious about communicating a different way. It’s been a while since we did a review on a learning system or phone app. Today is your lucky day!
FLASH ACADEMY OVERVIEW
Product: Flash Academy
Overall Ranking: 8.5/10
Price: Free version; Premium version ranges from $8.99/mo down to $45.99/yr
Owners: Richard Allen was the one with the idea, and he’s the “super busy Director.”
Flash Sticks HQ address: Learning Labs Ltd, Birmingham England.
Website: www.flashsticks.com; international patent application
Flash Academy is another great learning tool to add another language to your arsenal and become bilingual, or trilingual, etc. The best thing for me is that it’s a mobile app on my phone that goes with me where I go. If I have some down time, I can jump on the app. There is a FREE version and a PREMIUM version.
PROS AND CONS
The PROS are numerous.
- It’s portable. It’s available for use 24/7 on my cell phone whenever I am connected to Wi-fi. Some features are downloaded for use when away from Wi-fi.
- There are audio and video files for each word learned. You can see and hear the native speaker as she speaks the new word. Sometimes that is helpful to see how the mouth, tongue, teeth all play into the sound we hear. (NOTE: see “CONS” for how this can be distracting.)
- The lessons are short and give you grammar and culture tips along the way.
- Subsequent lessons not only build on each other but go back and review earlier vocabulary to assure that it has moved from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
- There is a game component to help solidify what you have learned. It is timed, so you try to beat your score each time. This is a good option for people who are a bit competitive. You can also connect with other users using the app for a bit of added competition.
- There are 13 different full language courses available: Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish, Turkish, and Welsh.
- In addition, there are some features available for 48 other languages — primarily providing the target language equivalent for the names of objects. The app developer encourages help to add more content for those “other” options.
- As it downloads your lessons, you will see various fun facts and world-wide trivia. It makes the wait more enjoyable. For instance, “Did you know German is the third most taught language?”
- The recorder that records you speaking does a very good job of “listening.” It also gives you a percentage rating to help gauge your accuracy and encourage improvement.
I also observed the following CONS:
- The Flash Academy app uses “British” English, which isn’t a negative in itself. However, there are some confusing word differences between “American” and “British” English, e.g. Mummy vs. Mother. In the U.S., Mummy refers to a preserved body from an Egyptian tomb. A possible solution would be for “American English” to be one of the options to pick as “your language.”
- For the Spanish option, it teaches Spanish as spoken in Spain, not in Latin America. (Example: in Latin America, not “movil,” but “cellular.”) Living in Mexico, I would prefer the latter. For other learners, this could be a “PRO.” In addition to vocabulary, the grammar is also distracting, using “vosotros” instead of “ustedes,” together with the vosotros verb forms. Again, this is a con for me living in a Latin American country. I did not test other languages to see if there were other similar cultural issues.
- While the graphics are very colorful, they are a bit elementary looking.
- While it is a “PRO” to have the words spoken to hear the proper pronunciation, I was a bit distracted by the Spanish continental “lisp,” pronouncing c as th.
WHO IS FLASH ACADEMY FOR?
Those that want to learn to speak another language in a fun way. I don’t see this as a stand-alone resource. It is for people used to using apps on their phone.
The app is designed for people who already speak one of the following languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Italian.
There are two primary ways you can use Flash Academy on your phone: Tutorial and Games.
There are three levels: Beginner with NINE categories, 12 lessons each; Intermediate with EIGHT categories (some repeats from beginner), 12 lessons each; and Advanced with EIGHT categories, 12 lessons each.
Examples of the categories are: Food & Drink; Holiday & Travel; Nature & Society; Career & Studies; Politics and Religion; Global Issues; Health & Lifestyle.
The program will keep track of your data, track your daily activity on a weekly basis, and give you progress reports, i.e. 15% of the way to graduation.
There are word games to correspond with each category. These are used to collect XP points (how you can compete with others using the app).
On the dashboard in addition to the LEARN tab which covers the tutorial and game sections, there are the following:
Translate – use this to scan an object, and you will see instant translations to 40+ languages. They are usually very detailed, so you can choose to shorten as you desire.
FlashSticks – here you will scan your post-it note with a word on it that you’d like pronunciation. This didn’t work for me, but it might be user error.
Profile – You can see your progress in how many lessons complete (297 lessons total) and how many games complete (25 possible). You go to settings here as well to set name and email. There is a place here to troubleshoot, send feedback and contact.
From the Setting menu under Profile you can access customer support. You send a message through the chat window with the option, if you continue to scroll down, to call, email, or connect on social media. The developers are quite transparent. That’s refreshing these days.
There is a free version with just a few sample lessons. The Premium version is available for $8.99 per month, $25.49 for 6 months ($4.25/mo), or $45.99 for one year ($3.83/mo).
This program looks to be a fun add-on option for your language learning. I would describe it as “simply comprehensive.” It’s portable, so that makes it very beneficial in my book. Not everyone is tech savvy with their cell phone or used to using their phones for learning apps. I like that the lessons are short, so that you have control of how much time you spend using this learning tool. They recommend that, to increase your success, you spend a little time each day with learning a language. This app certainly makes it easy to do that in a fun way that you will look forward to using. All in all, I heartily recommend FLASH ACADEMY. I love using this tool!