This app called “英语流利说” in Chinese, its English translation would be “Speak English Fluently”. I will briefly introduce some key features of the app:
(1) Design: the main color is green, makes people feel relaxed and refreshing, the whole color combination makes the app look modern and chic. In general, it is a very visual and looks interesting to use.
(2) Content: the app includes a range of topic originating from daily life, these topics covers various aspects, such as travel English, business English, or for exam purpose, ect. Learners can choose any topics based on their own needs, but since it aims to improve the speaking skill, it might ignore other learning skills, therefore it might not suitable for students who prefer not talk in public or prefer other learning styles.
(3) How it works: native American speakers will pre-record all the conversations for learners to imitate and practice, afterwards learner will get a score to see how good is your recording based on your pronunciation and tone, but it is unknown how does the app give the score,maybe given by a voice matching software that match learner’s voice and native speaker’s voice? i am just guessing though…
(4) Others: to make the practice more fun and motivating, the app developer put it in a game setting, which means once you finish your every 10 conversations under one topic, you could gain certain amount of “golden coins”. You could use these coins to buy some virtual goods that would be beneficial for your learning. After the learner finishing every conversations, there will be ranking that shows all the users marks, you could also listen to other users’ recording. I think it would be a boost for those competitive learners but maybe demotivate for learners who are in low rank. Moreover, there is a discussion board for users to communicate and discuss their ideas under certain type of topic, since the topics are limited, some users might not take part in the discussion at all.
It has existed for several years, and it certainly earned a good reputation among language learners, especially those who want to improve their spoken English, and the app keeps uploading new topic items to cater for different learners. However, it is only recorded by native American speakers, their accents are fixed, which ignores the variety of Englishes in this highly globalized world, it is questionable whether it is suitable for the global English/ English as a lingua franca setting. Again the native speaker norm is debatable. Another point is since these conversations are recorded pre-hand, then how authentic these materials actually be?
There are more issues to ponder at and explore with, overall, i like using the app, and i’ve been using this app for 2 years now, i expect more interesting topics and ideas coming up.