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Learn new words with Lingoversity

Expand your vocabulary with this interesting language learning tool.

Building a vocabulary is an important part of learning a foreign language (or learning more about your own language) yet it can be difficult for students to get the practice and reinforcement they need to make new words stick. Lingoversity is a language-learning tool that focuses on building vocabularies. It uses nontraditional learning methods designed to stimulate students into learning instead of simply repeating lessons. It can create voice-supported personal vocabularies, lessons, and podcasts. While its technology is unique, it's also somewhat less than intuitive to use, which compromises its effectiveness.

Lingoversity's startup procedure could use some work; the welcome screen lists Glossary, Learning Center, and other entries, but no indication of where to start. We clicked Glossary, the first entry, but a pop-up told us to set the program's General options in Preferences. On the Preferences sheet we added our name, native language, the language we want to learn, and our chosen interface language. We appreciate the ability to use different native and interface languages since they won't be the same for all users and it allows for greater flexibility in language labs and similar learning environments. The program's main interface is the Learning Center, a lesson-based setup dominated by a calendar, pie graphs (like "disk space" graphs) and line graphs to track lessons and achievements. We clicked the first in a series of Lessons buttons, which brought up the New Lessons screen. We could access our current glossary and arrange the display by Status, Expression, Translation, and Comment. A dice icon let us select a random lesson.

Lingoversity's Help file is quite extensive and useful but, like the program, a bit confusing at first. And that's essentially the way it is with Lingoversity: It does things differently, and not always better, at least from the new user's point of view. For example, the main interface lacks a button to minimize it to the taskbar, which is always annoying. You can X it down to the system tray, but to recall it you have to click the tray, click the program's icon, open its welcome screen, and click Learning Center. If you said, "There has got to be a better way," there is, and it's the standard Windows controls. Clunkiness aside, Lingoversity can be an effective learning tool.

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