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Wednesday, December 6th
Ouino is a good program for those who like to go in a suggested lesson order. It also offers for you to take the lessons in a different order. If today you want to learn restaurant vocabulary and the next day you want to learn travel vocabulary, you can do that, too, if that's where your mood leads you. Ouino realizes that you don't have to be in an advanced German class to learn about what you did yesterday or last week, or what you will do in the future. Each lesson is presented for whatever learning stage you're in. If you've ever wondered why traditional language teaching methods spend so much time on the present and make students wait until the next year or more to talk about the future or the past, you can certainly break out of that box with Ouino!
You can subscribe to Ouino's German lessons for 3 months ($38.97), 6 months ($59.94) or 12 months ($83.88), or sign up for lifetime lessons ($95.76). If you plan on taking lessons for more than a year, the lifetime subscription doesn't cost much more than the yearly subscription. The limited and the lifetime subscriptions include different features.
The limited subscription includes:
The lifetime subscription ($95.76):
60-day money-back guarantee
If you are not happy with Ouino for any reason, contact Ouino within 30 days of subscribing with the limited subscription or 60 days with the lifetime subscription, and Ouino will refund your money, no questions asked.
You will hear dialogs with native speakers. This isn't necessarily unusual for a language-learning program. Courses that "require" you to take the lessons in a specific order can have dialogs that are dry, as the script is locked into that lesson's vocabulary and grammar, and may regurgitate some of the previous lessons' material. The conversation feels forced and not authentic. Because Ouino knows you may not have taken their lessons in order, they take more freedom in their dialogs. They use the current lesson's vocabulary and grammar as a guideline and go from there. There may be some words and phrases you don't understand, but don't fret: after all, in real life, the speakers may use words you don't understand. Get adjusted to using context clues and you'll be fine - in the lesson and in real life.
The Building Block concept
Building Blocks are the grammatical concepts taught in the lesson. Since you don't have to take your lessons in a particular order, they don't assume you remember certain concepts from "previous" lessons. Therefore, each lesson has a building block, neither is considered more advanced than another, and they don't assume you have mastered something in order to understand this Building Block. It's a refreshing concept, especially for those language students who have had difficulty mastering material before moving on to the next lesson. You can also repeat lessons without feeling like you're back at the starting line.
All about fluency
The idea is to put it all together and become a fluent speaker of German. First, Ouino wants you to learn what they call the core material. It's the nuts and bolts of the language: basic grammar and vocabulary. This is where a lot of us dropped out of languages in high school: we were tired of those nuts and bolts at the end of our first or second year and dropped out of language classes. Ouino keeps you hooked with external sources. They offer readings and videos, and with the lifetime subscription (it doesn't cost much more than the yearly subscription), you can talk with native speakers! Use all four skills (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) to put all your learned material to use. Because the lessons don't have to go in order, the material presented in the readings and videos aren't strictly glued to a certain lesson's material. This makes your application of the material feel more real life and not artificially created.
Did someone say prizes?
Ouino tracks your progress with quizzes at the end of each lesson. Their dashboard lets you know which lessons you've completed and how well you might have mastered the material. Which lessons were harder for you and maybe you'll want to repeat them? Ouino knows. Did a lesson take longer than you would have liked because it was pretty hard? Ouino knows. Which lessons were easy for you? Ouino knows that, too. At the end of each exercise, you receive a score, and if you earned a 70% or higher, you'll receive a shiny bronze, silver, or gold medal. You'll also receive a medal for completing more than 55 exercises. These medals are displayed on a calendar. You can see when you practiced German and how well you did. Oops, did you skip a week or two, and not think it was that long? Yup, Ouino knows, and it's on the calendar to help you budget your time. You can also see how many reading exercises and how many writing exercises you've completed. Are you getting good at speaking but need to practice more reading? It's on the calendar.
Speaking of speaking
Ouino has technology to record your voice when you do the speaking exercises. You can listen back and judge yourself against the native speaker's voice. There isn't any automated speech recognition available with Ouino. The company says that there are speech recognition programs out there, but none are developed enough to be used by them. Ouino recommends you be the judge of your speaking when you listen to yourself: if you work on your pronunciation, it will improve over time. Certified language teachers would profess that there's a window of time to work on pronunciation before how you speak is ingrained. In the beginning lessons, students work on mouth movements and this movement eventually becomes the speaker's norm. Improving pronunciation after a certain period of time is like learning to break a long-term habit: it can be done, but with a great deal of work and concentration. Most people's accent improves in the beginning and when they are immersed in the language, such as living in another country. Can you achieve a near-native accent when using Ouino? That probably depends on how strict you are with yourself in trying to match your pronunciation to the speaker's voice clips, to be honest.
The activities are repetitive...but wait
As with some other language learning programs, the practice exercises don't vary in format and are repetitive. This is a common complaint of some programs, Ouino included. But Ouino adds a feature for those who like a challenge...or need a break. Each activity has a timer for each question. Do you know the material well? Give yourself less time to answer the questions, and start to think in the language when you have less time to process in English. Was the material challenging, and you're not sure you understand yet? Allow yourself more time per question so you can fully process and give yourself that fighting chance. As you improve, do the exercise again, this time with less time allotted.
A hindrance to thinking in German
At the end of each lesson, one of the common exercises is to listen to a German sentence and then pick the same sentence in English from a selection of four. This is too taxing on the brain, especially for the amount of time given. If one wants to think in a language, they shouldn't use English to process the thought or sentence. This exercise does the opposite. Not only that, but they give you a ridiculous amount of time to do so. Even those of us fluent in German couldn't choose the correct English phrase in the amount of time given. This was even on the "easy" level of the exercise. It's not good for learning German, and it can beat the person down.
We like the freedom of choice but wish it had more variety
Ouino's unique method of allowing the student to take lessons in the order they choose is unique and refreshing. This method also allows for the supplementary readings and videos to venture out of the proverbial box of that specific lesson, which is freeing. Although the types of exercises aren't varied, and there isn't speech-recognition for working on pronunciation, we still give Ouino a good score for its unique curricular method, ease of learning, and focus on fluency.
Did you know that German is the second-most spoken language in Europe? Or that around 95 million people worldwide speak German as their primary language and that it is an official language in six countries? Perhaps you have German roots in your family and want to get in touch with your heritage by learning German?
If you study sciences, you may know that German is the most commonly used scientific language. Learning German can provide you with an insight into the German people's way of life and also broaden your horizons. Whatever your personal reason for wanting to learn German, the next step is to find your best way to study the language.
So much of our life now is digital, so it's natural to consider learning German online. There are many programs to learn languages: live, one-to-one tutoring; a real person teaching you through recorded video lessons; video-game-like lessons and practice; recording your voice and getting computer-generated specific feedback; getting feedback on written work by real people; or playing games and letting the time fly by while earning prizes and getting on a leaderboard. With so many different methods of learning and practice, we can help you narrow down what is best for you and your learning style.
The first thing to consider is how much German you may know. Have you had German classes in high school and want to brush up and continue to proficiency? Or is Gesundheit! when someone sneezes the extent of your German? If you are a beginner, choosing an online program will be easier, as most focus at least on the beginning German student. If you already know some German, some programs offer a placement test and others have you look at their curriculum and you select your own placement. If you are pretty advanced or your goal is to get there, only a few online German programs can help you get to advanced proficiency, while others fall short past the beginning German level.
How would you like to learn German? Would you like live one-on-one lessons with a tutor or in a small-class setting? Would you like to learn from a person, but via video so you can pause or review? Would you like to learn interactively with a computer program where you match phrases you heard with images, then record your voice speaking, and then have game-like practice exercises with awards and a leaderboard with a little healthy competition? It's all out there, and you get to decide which is for you!
Once you know your current level of German and how you might want to learn it, there are a few more aspects to consider:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed, evaluated, rated, and recommended the best choices for learning German online or via an app. We're sure that with the information we have for you, you'll be able to make your best decision for learning German and becoming more proficient and fluent in this common and popular language!
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