When I went to the Language Show three years ago I came across this new company FlashSticks. I was so impressed with their product that I wrote a blog post about it. At the same time I did wonder what else they would be able to sell. I mean, there is only so much you can write on a post-it note. So I’ve been following their success and when they announced a new app I have been nagging them to get on with the German version!
And when they finally published the German version of the new FlashAcademy App they told me that after all that nagging I ought to try it out and gave me three months free premium access … and I love it.
So, what do you get? According to their info (and this applies to Android and iOS) you’ll get:
- Interactive 5 minute lessons. Acquire new words & phrases easily in these short-burst, highly interactive lessons, as well as accessing native speaker videos, grammar and culture tips – all packed into 5 minutes of engaged learning.
- Quick-fire word games Think you’ve mastered those new words? Put yourself to the test with a series of lively word games against the clock. Try to achieve your target score, compete with friends on the leaderboard and collect valuable XP points as you try to graduate with honours.
- FlashCards Within each lesson, learners can browse their new words as a series of FlashCards (similar to FlashSticks), with access to native speaker videos, useful sentences, grammar tips, notes and pronunciation practice – to help deepen their knowledge of new words and phrases.
So what do I think?
There are three levels, beginners, intermediate and advanced with eight topics (9 for the beginners) and several lessons for each topic. What I really like is the option to start wherever you wish. If you are an advanced learner you do not have to start at the beginning – although there is nothing stopping you from having a bit of fun and revising really easy things (and maybe even finding things you have already forgotten!). You can also chose which topic you want to study – very useful if you use FlashAcademy in addition to your regular German lessons.
I tried out various lesson and started with the most basic unit ‘a few basics’ – and I was pleased to see that the first word I came across was ‘der Kaffee’. What a lovely change to learning ‘Wie heißen Sie?’ in the first lesson! You see the words with its translation, a picture and the option to just hear the audio or even watch somebody say the words. The German speaker looks like she had a lot of fun saying everything nice and clearly. I bet they had to do many takes because they ended up in giggles ☺
As you work through the new words you get little tasks of choosing the right word from a choice of four or you need to spell the word. And in between all these – just to keep you on your toes – you get little grammar or cultural information. At the end of the unit you get a few challenges with a reading exercise and some phrases to put in order, but you may not know every word – a lovely way to stretch your German. At the end of the lesson you can either move forward or revise the new words with flashcards. Again you can listen to the audio or video, you can check the translation, you can learn a few sentences with that word and you can record yourself saying it and the compare your recording with that of the German speaker.
Each topic also has quick word games which you can as soon as you have at least done one of the lessons. I personally hate any game with a timer but even I was hooked on playing. And if it’s fun and you revise some German vocabulary, then that’s good!
Just as you could with the old app. you can still scan all the Post-it notes to hear the correct pronunciation and you can still scan objects and get them translated.
Just a few little bits:
As with all books, programs or apps, there may be mistakes or problems. The FlashSticks team will be pleased to know that I have not found any wrong words … yet ☺, but if you do come across a problem, let them know, they will check and, if need be, correct it.
The grammar explanations are fun to read but they may not be enough, so you probably will need to supplement your learning with other things.
The object scanner. Although it’s great fun, it might not give you the right adjective ending. For example, I scanned a grey and red piggy bank. It recognised the colours grau & rot and it recognised that it was a Sparschwein, but it didn’t say graues & rotes Sparschwein, and I can understand it, as there are so many different ways to use these words. So, be aware of it and turn it into a challenge. How many different sentences could you make with the object you scanned? For example, my sentences could be:
Das ist ein graues und rotes Sparschwein.
Wo ist das graue und rote Sparschwein?
Ich habe ein graues und rotes Sparschwein.
Ich habe Geld in meinem grauen und roten Sparschwein.
And finally, the app is not free, although you can try things for free before committing yourself to monthly fees. Some of the lessons are free, you can try the object scanner 5 times for free, and of course, all FlashSticks can be scanned for free. If you then decide to get the paid version, the current (edit: 2017) costs are (UK prices or your equivalent):
1 month: £6.99 per month (charged as £6.99 every 1 month).
6 months: £4.17 per month (charged as £24.99 every 6 months).
12 months: £3.00 per month (charged as £35.99 every 12 months).
*Get a free pack of FlashSticks Post-it Notes with every 12-month subscription
So, download the app, try it out for free first, and then decide. Whatever you do, enjoy learning or revising some German!
I leave you with their video:
Edit January 2017: FlashAcademy keep on adding new features, like grammar lessons & interactive games, for example this very basic lesson on gender.