Category Archives: Features

Updated Feature – Vocabulary Deck Management

We have updated the management of vocabulary decks and flashcards on both our Android and iOS mobile apps, as well as on the website. The highlights of these changes include: easier deck management, full-screen flashcards, easier vocabulary card management and a new SRS mode.

Deck Management
After you tap ‘Vocabulary’ you will be re-directed to a newly designed Vocabulary section. We have simplified and ‘flattened’ the design to draw more attention to what is important – the vocabulary decks (or ‘stacks’ of vocabulary flashcards). Each deck box displays the deck name and the number of target terms. Options for this view allow you to create a new deck or change the target language that you are studying. If you ‘long-press’ on a deck box, options to rename the deck will appear. If you ‘pull’ the page down, the decks will sync with your cloud account.

 

Flashcards
After you tap a deck box, you will be immediately be taken to the flashcards. The first thing previous students will notice is that the cards are now much bigger. Tapping the icon in the the top-left will even make them full screen!

 

You can navigate the cards by swiping left and right to switch between the cards, or tapping to flip the cards. You can choose what to display on the ‘front’ side of the cards in Settings with the source language translation available by default, but also the option to display the target term, the term phonetics and the term audio. On the back side of the card, you will see all the information related to the target term in addition to a green ‘View Sample Sentences’ button that will direct you to the Glossary so that you can browse sample sentences for how the term is actually used in context.

 

Vocabulary Card Management
In addition to Settings, in the Options section you can Manage the entire deck, Shuffle the cards, Autoplay the cards, Move the active term to another deck, Copy the active term to another deck or Delete the active term from the deck.

SRS Mode
By default the flashcard section is set to Normal Mode. For those students who want to take advantage of spaced-repetition software (SRS) technology, you now have the option to switch to SRS Mode in the Options section.

 

In SRS Mode, you cannot freely switch between different cards, but instead need to indicate how well you remembered the term, by selecting between Again, Hard, Good or Easy, before proceeding to the next card. This feedback is used by the SRS SM-2 algorithm to ‘smartly’ present this term to you in the future. In layman’s terms, the goal is to use technology to help more these new foreign-language terms from your short, to you medium, to your long-term memory.

Please let us know you questions or ideas below in the comments.

Hank

New Feature – Speech Accuracy

A big challenge when learning a new language is knowing whether or not what you are saying could actually be understood by a native speaker.

If you attend a language class, your teacher can quickly give you feedback, but you might have to fight with other students for their time and perhaps you might be a little shy or afraid to make mistakes. If you are studying on your own, then you are likely in a worse situation being not able to even get this minimal feedback.

At OpenLanguage we take pride in our engaging lessons, which provide lesson input, and our software tools, that help provide review opportunities, but we also realize facilitating practice opportunities and providing corrective feedback is critical for developing your new language skills.

To help with this, today we are adding a new ‘Accuracy’ feature to the Sentence and Word Review tools available in our iOS and Android mobile apps.

accuracy-1

To take advantage of this feature, simply tap the Accuracy button to get started. To hear a native speaker read the term or sentence press the play button. Then it is your turn to try. Press record and read the term yourself. The app will analyze your recording and give you an Accuracy score.

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Now, this feature utilizes speech-recognition technology which is notoriously not 100% perfect. You should approach your score, not as an absolute measure of your performance, but more as an indicator of how likely you would be understood by a native speaker. The higher your score, the more likely you will be able to engage in a conversation with that native speaker.

This feature is simply designed to be a low-risk way for you to get feedback on how well you are pronouncing those foreign-language terms.

FOR THE GEEKS
From a technical perspective, the app converts the spoken audio to a text string (with Android using the Android SDK and with iOS using Nuance) and then compares the resultant text string with the original for the native speaker. The app then uses a string comparison algorithm (Levenshtein distance) to determine an approximate accuracy score.

If you have any suggestions please let us know in the comments.

Hank.