The story of the development of leVocab is a story of horror, laziness and fun. The beginning of the story (the horror) will be familiar to everyone who has learned a modern language or is a parent of a language student. Rest assured, this story has a happy ending!
Who am I?
I am Niall – the founder and designer of the leVocab apps. I studied French when I was at school and subsequently lived in France & Belgium; I studied Japanese at university and won a scholarship to visit and study in Japan and I have since studied Italian, Spanish and German.
Six years ago I started working for a German company in Ireland. Five years ago I decided I needed to learn German fast as I was travelling regularly to Düsseldorf. Despite its reputation as a difficult language, I enjoyed learning German. Then about four and half years ago I was reminded of gender in languages other than English.
So let me begin by telling you about the horror. Not long into my German studies I was introduced to the tricky triplets – der, die & das. Aaaagh! I was quickly reminded of the terrible twins in French – le and la – and that modern foreign languages had a gender (masculine or feminine). So once again I had to learn the gender of each noun as I was learning the vocabulary. So began the horror because as everyone knows it is challenging to learn new vocabulary but it is downright awful trying to learn the new genders at the same time.
Now let me tell you about the laziness – it’s time for my confession: I am lazy! I do not like rote learning; I do not like writing out new vocab and the matching gender. I was on the verge of relapsing to my old ways of winging it, depending on guesswork and unreliable rules of thumb when I said to myself there must be a better way.
The fun started with flash cards and progressed rapidly from there. I have studied modern languages as I told you and I also study computer languages - that is my day-to-day job. I decided to write some software for my personal use to help me learn my new words. I soon realized that more people could benefit from this so I set about writing the apps. I had been focusing on the nouns and their genders but then I thought, “hey, I could include pronunciation too.” So I got a bunch of male and female native speakers into a recording studio and they recorded the pronunciation of 1,500 words in their native tongue. I really enjoyed those three days in the studio.
And before I knew it, the leVocab app was born. Well that is not strictly true as I took me almost a year to design it, gather all the vocab, write the code and pull it all together. But now I have a cool app that I can, and do, use anywhere. I can do a short, themed quiz in about three minutes and bingo, before I know it, I have learnt 10 new words.
It's a most wonderful time of the year! We have created four 'Letter to Santa' templates for you to download (free) for your little ones to write to Santa - one each in French, German, Spanish and English.
You can download them directly from the following links:
As you know our apps are aimed more at the 10+ age group - you're bigger ones - but we are keen to do something for your littler ones too. Our apps have a Christmas quiz with ten new words on a Christmas theme. You can download the app from the buttons below.
Let the fun begin. Merry Christmas!
Did you know that you can send a friend or relative a paid app as a present to them? No? It is very simple and we will tell you how today...
TEN Simple Steps allow you to send an app as a gift from the iTunes App Store to someone dear to you and it takes less than two minutes (we timed it!)
1. Open the iTunes Store, App Store app. If you're not signed in, sign in with your Apple ID.
2. Find the item that you want to gift. You can't gift a free item.
3. In the App Store, tap blue circle with three white horizontal dots in the upper-right corner of the app's product page. In the iTunes Store tap the Share icon blue box with blue arrow pointing up in the upper-right corner of the item's page.
4. Tap Gift.
5. Enter your recipient's email address.
6. If you want to, add a message.
7. By default, the gift is sent immediately after you buy it. If you want to schedule the gift to send later, tap Today, then set the date that you want the gift to send.
8. In the upper-right corner, tap Next.
9. Select a theme for your gift, then tap Next.
10. Tap Buy, then tap Buy Now to confirm.
We have done some research on apps and we have a couple of suggestions.Memrise & Babbel
Memrise (subscription based) & Babbel (free) are two, top language apps. The leVocab apps are a really good compliment to Memrise & Babbel as leVocab will help you to correctly learn lots of vocabulary to accompany the grammar and syntax that Memrise/Babbel teach.
Duolingo is a free app that is very familiar to us. It has over 30 languages and it helps users learn to speak and read the language. Once again, leVocab is the perfect vocabulary and pronunciation app to compliment these two.
Getting away from languages, we love the Bandimal app which is a music composer for kids. It is new; priced at 4.49 and seems really informative and good fun to use.
If you are feeling a bit stressed given the time of year, a very popular app, though pricey, is the Headspace app. You get one month free! This mindfulness app has long and short meditations that you can use daily and throughout your day - ideal for keeping the cool.
Finally, when it comes to games we have to admit that we at leVocab are, of course, intrigued with Minecraft - 7.99 and we still love Tetris - 2.29.
Don’t forget if you are gifting an app to a language student, think of leVocab and download from our app page
If you have any questions drop us a line to hello@leVocab.com