After searching the iTunes store, I finally settled on two apps: German in a Month by Elky Entertainmnet LLC and 24/7 German Tutor.
One thing I was concerned about was providing the boys with a rich and varied, progressive German learning experience, as opposed to the simple vocabulary-only focus that seems to pervade so many of the language apps available out there. Both of these apps delivered!
German in a Month
This app promises to teach the beginner a comprehensive basic German in one month. Since Simon and Alex would be under my supervision for three consecutive weeks, it seemed like the perfect app to check out this summer!
German in a Month offers a game-like, multi-modal approach (the leaner can choose either picture identification or writing/spelling). Right away, the kids were engaged and wanted to play.
The app led them through a series of lessons such as "im Kino" or "prepositions"; each lesson includes a series of "pages". Each page contains 6 items to learn, which are accompanied by a visual image to help aid retention. The depth of lessons is good, beyond the usual cursory "colours", "numbers" and other more basic vocabulary. I also liked how the app offered bite-sized snippets and integrated review. The kids enjoyed it without being overwhelmed.
I know sourcing high quality, affordable images can be a daunting task for app developers, but the messages we choose to impart through visual learning are critical, and as a queer woman and a mother interested in equity and social justice, I'm constantly on the look out for materials that are representative, racially and in terms of sex/gender, age and ability level.
Given the many other plusses of this excellent language learning app, I would love to see a revised version with a broader range of visual examples.
Both boys agreed this is a fun app; they liked the interactive component, and were more likely to stick with the program for the full 20 minutes without reminders!
This is actually a suite of apps: Basic vocabulary, Advanced Vocab, and Phrases.
Each app includes a series of lessons which can be completed in any order. Each lesson begins with a written study list (no pictures here). Once the learner feels confident with the list, she can choose a multiple choice quiz, a puzzle or a fill-in-the-blank exercise to test her knowledge.
Since the boys have already had a few years of Saturday morning German school, they were okay to use the app with little assistance from me, and seemed able to understand many of the words, despite not having any visual cues.
Although I think including visuals would enhance this app, I did like the pronunciation (I wanted Alex and Simon to hear German often), and in particular, the "Phrases" app appealed to me: From first phrases to feelings, interjections and expressions, this app included full sentences as opposed to just single words.
Overall, I liked using the combination of the two apps; German in a Month and 24/7 Language Tutor provided considerably more than a month's worth of material, and we'll definitely continue to use them after the summer is over.
If you're looking to move your German beyond the basics, I highly recommend these two apps.