Like most Americans, I studied a second language in high school (and a third in college.) And like most Americans, I rarely have an excuse to practice my language skills. Mac apps and smartphone apps have gone a long way towards helping people like me to keep language skills fresh, even when there’s no conversation partner about. However, not all Mac apps for language skills are created equal. If you’re looking for a free way to brush up on a foreign language, you can try an app with a very silly name: Papapapaya Lite.
What is it and what does it do
Papapapaya Lite is a tool for reviewing foreign language vocab. Only English, German, and French are supported. Just like your brain, Papapapaya Lite organizes your words in different MEMORY LEVELS instead of files and folders. This makes it easy to see which words you already know well and what you need to rehearse again.
- Well-organized design
- Organizes your vocab knowledge into multiple tiers based on your memory, which cuts your study time down considerably
- A great way to try the software before you buy
- You have to upgrade to the full version for $19.99 to get some of the best features, such as iPhone sync, the ability to add your own custom vocab words, and import/export capabilities
- Only English, German, and French are supported.
- Hasn’t been updated since 2011 (though you can upgrade from within the app)
- Name is incredibly hard to say out loud if you want to recommend the app to a friend
- Interface is buggy and pulls in text that’s not part of the vocab quiz
- Setup is a bit unintuitive
The developers promise, “With Papapapaya Lite you can focus on learning the language and not on complicated software. Our program is clearly structured, and so you will intuitively understand it and find what you need.” While the structure is quite good, the interface does still have some issues.
First off, getting started is hard. There’s isn’t an automated way to start the process of adding vocab words to your “to be quizzed on” list. You’ll need to go into “File>Add included words” to set your language preferences and select lists of vocab to study. Annoyingly, you can’t select more than one list during this process.
The vocab tests themselves are pretty good, in terms of how they function. However, there seems to be some issue with the coding: text gets pulled in that’s not a vocab word, but rather test instructions. I do like how the test doesn’t just mark you completely wrong if you misspell a word. And if you have a brain fart and forget an answer, you can still mark it as correct.
There are a number of different vocab options you can peruse, each of which is organized by theme such as colors, verbs, dining out, work, music, religion, and more. Sadly if you want the best features, such as iPhone sync, the ability to add your own custom vocab words, and import/export capabilities, you need to pay to upgrade
Conclusion and download link
If you want to brush up on your German and French, Papapapaya Lite is a good free tool for doing so. That being said, it does have some limitations that may frustrate some users, and you will almost certainly need to upgrade to get the full benefits of what Papapapaya can offer. But if you’re a firm “try before you buy” believer, check it out…at least if you want to learn German, French, or English.
Version reviewed: 1.0
Requires OS X 10.6 or later
Download size: 0.9 MB