When to drop a language app…

I’ve been using the Drops Language App since November 2018. (Wait, it’s been that long now?!) I started with the free version, and I’ve been using the premium version for the last 3 months (October- December 2020). I figured I would share my thoughts- I’m always interested in reading reviews about language learning programs, so someone might be into mine.

I mainly use it to learn Mandarin Chinese. I’ve played around with it in other languages, but it’s been a good part of my Chinese practice so that’s where it has stuck for me. I like the SRS (space repetition sequence) function that the app uses, where it repeats vocabulary until you’ve recognized it and introduces new words gradually. There are a lot of vocabulary topics to choose from, which is nice because you can pick the topics that are relevant to your practice. The audio & character writing practice are helpful. The colors/design of the app are pretty as well! The downside to the free version is that you only get 5min of practice, every 10hrs.

The benefit of the premium version is mainly that there is no time limit on the amount of practice. You also get the additional functions of being able to go back & review vocabulary through your profile. There is a Dojo function where you can practice/review specific vocab too. The cost can range, depending on if you start your premium membership with a sale or discount code. I managed to get mine for “$8.49” a month.

For me, once I switched to the premium membership, I no longer felt the “pressure” to keep up with the little 5min practices. I ended up falling out of the daily routine that I had previously. But when I did practice, I usually spent more time on the app, because I would review vocab & practice writing the characters after the gameplay. For me, I ended up deciding that I wanted to put the money for the monthly cost of this app towards something different in my language learning budget.

I still enjoy the app, but I’m back to the regular free version. I’m at a point with my Chinese where I’d like to see some more progress, and I think I need to add something new/slightly more advanced into my practice. If you’re looking for other similar language learning apps to Drops (and for Chinese in particular), here are some suggestions!

Similar level/intensity: Lingodeer, Duolingo

Slightly more grammar/interaction: Memrise

More advanced (but freemium): Linq*

*I say more advanced, because this app seems to be based more on reading, and reading is a skill that comes after you have a bit of a base in the language.

I’m planning to try & do more of: Anki, The Chairman’s Bao, Mandarin graded readers, children’s books, manga, and short stories.

I think I need to learn more vocabulary in context, and practice with situational conversation. I’m also planning on testing myself this spring to get more of a handle on where my level is.

很快再见! See you soon!

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