Review: Byki

Yesterday, I discovered Byki, a free language learning programme which seems to be quite useful if you want to learn basic vocabulary and short sentences. Although I am not a big fan of this type of L2 learning, I tried it out and found that the programme does help a little. The screenshot above shows how it works: you choose your language from a list and then download its flashcards. The learning programme consists of three steps:

  1. Look through your cards: first, you get the Norwegian words and phrases. When you flip the cards around, the English translations will appear.
  2. Provide the English translations: now that you have seen the translations, you are asked to provide them yourself. There are two options: you can either self-report (say the translations out loud – the programme cannot check your answers) or write down the translations. Once you have gotten everything right, you may proceed to the next step.
  3. Provide the Norwegian translations: this is the opposite of step 2.

What I like about this programme is that it can check your process. It calculates how many words and phrases you have memorised correctly. Furthermore, the programme provides pronunciation tips. This way, you learn how to pronounce certain tricky letters and consonant sequences immediately when you see them. In addition, you can hear how the words are pronounced (even in slow motion).

There is only one negative aspect. The programme only recognises sentences which have been typed in exactly the same way as on the flashcard. This means that if you translate “God kveld.” as “Good evening”, the programme sees your answer as incorrect simply because you have forgotten a full stop. This can, however, be corrected manually by clicking on “accept as correct”.

Overall, I think Byki is a good language learning programme for beginners. It ensures that you memorise basic vocabulary and sentences. It facilitates learning by dividing the process in three steps which you must complete in order to proceed to the next one. Byki not only teaches you how to write in your target language, but also how to pronounce words. The only flaw is that variation in punctuation is not allowed, but this can be solved easily.

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