The Bottom Line
Red River Press offers a number of English learning apps. In this review, I refer to Conversation English, Travel English and English at Work. Overall the apps are among the best English learning apps I've seen on the market to date. They use contemporary story lines to keep learners engaged and cover some of the most common reasons for learning English: Conversation skills, traveling and English for work.
Red River Press English learning apps work well on the iPhone and iPad, even if there were a few glitches in layout in the English-at-Work which made for difficulties getting back to the main page for each lesson. One of the strengths of the apps are their use of authentic situations and documents that fit the technology of the iPhone and iPad such as e-mails, telephone conversations that looked like SMS texts, etc. This gave the courses a very real feel as the communication was designed for the device. Also, the language introduced was very appropriate in terms of idiomatic usage for the conversation English and travel apps, and modern, but respectful, business English in the English at Work app. The videos were cartoons, so didn't help much. However, that is most likely due to the fact that you need to download the videos to view them once the app has been installed.
All in all, I'd recommend these apps for anyone looking for a quality English learning experience on the iPhone or iPad who wants to focus on general English at an intermediate to upper-intermediate level.
- Solid learning objectives and clear instruction throughout
- Use of authentic and 'real' feeling materials
- Story lines used to keep interest
- Repeated review of new vocabulary and phrases in all phases of each lesson
- Well designed for the iPhone or iPad taking advantage of platform-specific innovations
- Drag and drop activities sometimes difficult to complete, especially in ordering exercises
- In the English at Work app there were some navigational difficulties
- Videos are actually only cartoons
- Have to download videos and audio to use, i.e. they are not initially downloaded
- English-at-Work is story line driven taking the learner through the job application process to successful employment and finally to a new job.
- Conversation English focuses on idiomatic English through story line of a small group of friends.
- Travel English takes the learner through essential travel experiences from deciding on a vacation to returning home.
- Each app can be used on both the iPhone and iPad, although Conversation English has a specifically designed version for the iPad.
- All apps are especially adapted to modern English usage learning, rather than academic English or test study purposes.
- Story driven learning helps keep the learner involved and motivated throughout each lesson.
Guide Review - English Learning Apps from Red River Press
This review focuses on three English learning apps for iPhone and iPad by Red River Press: Conversation English, English at Work and Travel English. English at Work and Travel English were reviewed as iPhone apps, although they will also work on the iPad. Conversation English was reviwed on the iPad. All three English learning apps use a story metaphor taking learners through a story line over the course of a number of lessons. Each lesson is arranged in seven sections with key vocabulary and expressions repeated throughout each section of a lesson.
The apps include audio and video clips, as well as other types of learning content such as e-mails in the English at Work app. Learning takes place through a review of materials and use of similar interactive tasks which generally follow this order:
- Vocabulary Warm-up - focusing on new vocabulary and phrases to be introduced in the lesson
- Story - audio, video, or reading task to introduce learning content following a story-line
- Comprehension - multiple choice questions testing understanding
- Put in Order - drag and drop exercise ordering the story
- Matching Vocabulary - matching defintions to new vocabulary
- Multiple Choice - fill in the blank activity
- Wordbank / Keywords - review of new vocabulary and phrases
Key vocabulary and phrases is the central feature of all three apps. New vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of each lesson, and reviewed in a variety of manners throughout each exercise.