Is this more of an app review or a book review? Today I bring you a review of Beelinguapp, an audiobooks app for language learners.
Sometimes studying can be a boring drag and you just want to do something a little less tedious than drilling grammar or a ton of vocab flashcards. Maybe you want to get into reading books in your language of choice, but you’re worried that it might be too hard to just pick up a book written in your chosen language and read it without guidance. In that case, I could recommend this app to you!
As I already said, this is an audiobook app. There are free stories and paid ones both available to choose from. There are stories of all different types and difficulties, including classics and even sciency stuff, as you can see in the above image! The cool thing is that when you choose a story, you can also choose which languages to download it in! So far, I’ve downloaded all of my stories in English, Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese. When you go to listen to a story, you can choose what you want your learning language to be and what your reference language is. When you listen to the book, it will be read and displayed to you in the learning language, and you can do split screen so the learning language is on top and the reference language is on bottom. You can mix and match languages, so you could even have two learning languages up at once!
There are a lot of things you can play with as you read. As I already mentioned, there’s the split screen option, and there is a night mode, text magnifier, voice speed control, and text highlight that follows the reader. The text highlight sometimes isn’t timed correctly, however, and of course if the languages you have set as your learning and reference have different word order or other major grammatical differences, you won’t be able to really use the highlight to, for example, match words you don’t know. Still, the highlight does make it easier to follow where the speaker is in the text with your eyes even if the timing is a little off.
As for the actual audio quality, I’ve found it to be passable in all the stories I’ve tested so far. Some aren’t the absolute best quality… just passable. That isn’t to say the audio is bad, just that you can expect to hear some noise in some recordings. I’m assuming that the audio quality will be better with stories that you have to pay to download, but I’m too cheap so I haven’t tried any of those yet :B Anyway, in all of the stories I’ve listened to so far, the narrators speak at reasonable storytelling speeds. If you aren’t super picky about audio quality, there should be no big problem.
The major downfall of this app is, in my opinion, the lack of a dictionary function. You can long-press words to add them to your own dictionary in the app… but then you have to add a meaning for the word yourself, which is obviously not too helpful at all if you don’t already know what the word means! Sure, maybe you could take a look at the reference language text to see what the word means, but these stories aren’t translated word-for-word and sometimes matching up words between different versions of the same text could be hard. What I think this app really needs is an easy-access dictionary. Of course, providing dictionaries for all of the languages might be hard…
Ultimately, I think this is a pretty good app with a few flaws that, if fixed, would make this a really excellent language-learning tool!
- Multiple languages available
- Can read along as you listen to the story
- Can choose your display languages so you can even study more than one new language at once
- Lots of little options to play with to optimize your experience
- No integrated dictionary :<
- Audio quality is decent but a little lacking
- Text highlighting sometimes isn’t synced properly
As always, happy studying <3