Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Trying to Learn Spanish with Learnit Lists

Learnit Lists is a widget that can be used in your iGoogle page that presents you with 10 new words every day translated into a language you want to learn. In my case, living in Los Angeles, I figured I might as well devote minutes of my day expanding my Spanish vocabulary.

You need to register with Learnit to be able to select the language you want to learn (if you don't, you can only get Czech translations). They offer 15 language pairs, from the usual suspects of languages one usually finds in these things.

I did notice, however, that when I selected the Tagalog (Filipino) translations, the translations were sometimes either incorrect or missing altogether (it would just repeat the English word). So I wouldn't necessarily suggest Learnit if you want to learn the less popular languages offered.

Learnit also doesn't conjugate verbs, and it doesn't even notify you of what type of word it is (you wouldn't know if it was the noun "watch" or the verb "to watch."). As such Learnit can only really expand your vocabulary, but not teach you any grammar at all.

Another feature that I wish Learnit offered was to recall the words I'd learned in previous days, to make sure that what I was learning stuck.

My final critique was that the widget itself, while simple looking, seemed to take up entirely too much space. I had to reorganize my entire iGoogle page to balance all my widgets out, and Learnit is the largest widget by far. For something that's essentially just a list of 10 word pairs, it can certainly be much more compact.

I may seem like I'm ripping into Learnit, but the truth is, it's still installed in my homepage, and I don't see myself uninstalling it. I do, however, look forward to it being updated and upgraded, and I'd love to learn of better alternatives that are as immediately convenient as Learnit was when I first got it. I highly suggest you try it yourself.

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Nicola said...

Hello, this is Nicola from Learnit.

I'm really glad you're using our widget, but it's a shame there's the problems with the Tagalog translations. I'm just going through the word list at the moment to remove any obvious errors - like where the word doesn't get translated.

Our strategy is that we will get each language translation checked by a professional, human translator as soon as we can. For now, we're reliant on users flagging up any mistranslation, but all the translations will be checked before it comes out of beta.

We are about to launch our next version of the widget, with some of the functions people have requested - like grammatical info, tests, sound, speech & context. You're very welcome to join the private beta test of this if you'd like to.

Your comment about the size of the widget has got me thinking... we could produce a learnit widget lite version for people who need the words only, and none of the additional functions. You will also be able to subscribe to an RSS feed for an ultra lite version.

I hope you'll like our new version,

Anonymous said...

Looks like a promising widget to learn Spanish, I'm having trouble learning Spanish so hopefully this will help me.