|Available In: App Store||Price: $1.99|
“Pronto? Buongiorno. Arrivederci!” This was a typical conversation between my wife and me during the weeks leading up to our honeymoon trip to Italy. Neither of us had any experience speaking Italian, so we downloaded a few podcasts and began practicing as much as we could. I also downloaded a free app that used Google’s translation dictionary to fill in during emergencies. What I really wish we had had was something more visual, something that could help us with pronunciation, and something that could be quicker and less cumbersome than a big dictionary.
Enter ViDICTO+ mytrip (formerly iLingua), whose tagline is “see hear read link.” Indeed, one of the first things you notice about this language helper app is how pretty it looks. My promo copy was for Japanese, but the setup is the same for all languages. On the main menu, you can select “Categories” which will give you various everyday scenarios where you will most likely need language assistance. These included “at the airport”, “hotel lobby”, “dinner”, and “shopping”. A “Trainer” option allows you to select words and phrases from the categories interface to keep together and quiz yourself in future sittings. The app also allows you to create three additional short lists to view at a quick glance or study from.
As mentioned above, the layout and interface of ViDICTO+ is outstanding, perhaps, the best I’ve seen and experienced in any application on the iPhone. The menus are animated, colorful, and very smooth. Once the application has loaded (12-15 seconds), there are no hiccups or pauses at any point of operation. Navigating through the app is intuitive, though there is an excellent help guide included within the application. Tapping once on the picture or wordwill give you a pronunciation from an authentic speaker. Double tapping will give you options to add to your trainer or list, as well as access Wikipedia, a Thesaurus, and some common phrases for you to study.
Where ViDICTO+ falls short is its ability to teach. Although I have heard of some language programs that teach you by using important vocabulary words and phrases in situations (the podcasts we downloaded used this method), ViDICTO+ is not organized to do this, nor (to its credit) does it market itself as such. Instead, the application is designed to be a review mechanism for a language learner, or as a visual aid to use when a traveler finds herself in a situation similar to the ones included in the application. If I’m at the hotel, and I’d like to request a cab, I can pull out ViDICTO+ and either point to the cab picture or use the included phrase. Pump up the volume and I can even have the iPhone say the phrase that I want.
Some suggestions I would have for the developers include: a better system of drilling. I think ViDICTO+ could eventually market itself as a teaching app if it organized its situations into lessons and setup a module system. I’d like to see additional phrases, pictures, and situations included in updates, and possibly a translating dictionary within the app. This last suggestion could really combine a few apps into one and give ViDICTO+ a bit of an advantage over other apps. All in all, though, for $1.99, I find it very easy to recommend this application. Simply to award the developers for putting together a beautiful application that may just teach you a thing or two about a new language. ViDicto+ is also available in Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, and soon in French. There is also a free lite version for Spanish in case you want to check it out before buying.