Books & Tea & Langenscheidt IQ Vokabeltrainer Englisch

Hi there,

the last few weeks were really adventurous. I had a lot of appointments and events (such as the Frankfurt Book Fair) and I loved attending them 😀 I really did, but to be honest I’m relieved it is over. Even if I had a great time, as I am an introvert it was eminently exhausting as well…

I hoped that it will be less stressful the next weeks, but I think I might have forgotten to consider the fact that Christmas is coming soon. Only 20 days left!

So I’m absolutely grateful for every single minute I have to myself between appointments and other obligations.

Besides having some quality time with my family, I read a lot and most of the books I recently read were in English, such as Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. (They were fantastic!) Currently, I’m reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Yep, I know… I’m a bit late to follow the hype about the Don Tillman books which occurred when they were first published but do you know this feeling when you’re interested in a story, but it doesn’t seem to be the right time to read it because there are other books you currently feel more attracted to? For me, that was the case with these books. But even if I didn’t read them in those days, I enjoy reading them now all the more 🙂 I’m on page 149 and so far it’s genius and absolutely funny 😀 Have you read it yet?

I’ve also written a lot lately. Even on my blog actually. See, I originally had a really good plan: My next post was supposed to be about extroverts and introverts and another one about my experiences at the book fair. After these two I wanted to show you an app called “Langenscheidt IQ Vokabeltrainer Englisch”, followed by a lot more ideas I still have in mind 🙂 But no matter how much I tried I wasn’t able to overcome my writer’s block in the long term. So I recently started three different topics and didn’t finish even one of them… Hooray procrastination!

And now I’m finally sitting here in my living room, drinking tea (a lovely cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar) and all I do is writing. Take this writer’s block! Anyway, I decided to upset my plans and celebrate my comeback to creativity by writing about the vocabulary app. So grab a cuppa, take a comfortable seat and here we go 🙂


Thank You, Langenscheidt!

I met the nice Langenscheidt team at their stand at the book fair and I had a lovely conversation with them. We stayed in contact afterwards and the publishing house offered me the opportunity to test the full version of “Langenscheidt IQ Vokabeltrainer Englisch” for free. Thank you very much 🙂


First Things First

Langenscheidt offers a variety of vocabulary trainers. Besides English, they’re also available in French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

With downloading the free version of “Langenscheidt IQ Vokabeltrainer Englisch” you get the opportunity to test the vocabulary trainer with words from the categoryEssen und Trinken” (Foods and Drinks).

If you find it helpful, you can purchase the full version. It contains 800 words and idioms from eight topics and a variety of functions such as games for interactive training, a recording function or the possibility to add your own words.

The app is available for both Android andiOSand I can totally agree with Langenscheidt who are recommending their vocabulary trainer primarily to people who are beginners (CEFR level A1/A2 and below).

Tiny hint: If you’re one of the lucky owners of a “Langenscheidt IQ” language courseand already registered in the “Lern-Manager” (learn manager) you can unlock the full version for free.


First Impression

When I first opened the app (at this point I was using the free version), two thoughts were flashing through my mind:

I really like these colourful little pictures, but the background colour is too dark for my liking.

Actually, I don’t consider myself being particularly superficial, but I realised that colours and pictures have a huge impact on the way I can remember vocabulary because I’m a visual learner. That’s why I prefer bright, friendly and motivating colours. I’m sorry, but black doesn’t fall into these categories.

But for sure the content is way more important to me than the appearance. And when I first read the app description in the app store I got so excited 😀 I’ve had noticed that Langenscheidt wrote that the app is most suitable for beginners. So I thought it’s likely that I’m already familiar with most of the vocabulary. And I was right. But as there are features like “Meine Wörter” (My Words) with which you’ve got the possibility to add your own words (plus a matching picture), I thoughtthe app might be quite useful for advanced learners like me as well.


The Free Version

As I mentioned before, you get free access to the vocabulary category “Essen und Trinken” (Food And Drinks) after downloading the app. That way you’ve got the possibility of getting familiar with the functionality of the vocabulary trainer by testing two games. Hereby you can figure out whether the app agrees with your needs and wishes or not. Based on the experiences you’ve just made you can decide if you want to unlock new content and functions by purchase.

With the free version, you can test “Match it!” and “Buzzer”.



My Experiences With The Full Version

After purchasing the app I had access to the complete vocabularyand all other games and features. And if you call to mind that the app was designed for beginners, I think 800 words and idioms are something you can work with for a while, don’t you?

I also like Langenscheidt’s visual attempt. I know I said I don’t like the dark background – actually, that didn’t change at all 😉 – but I rather mean the connection between words and pictures. You can recall vocabulary more easily if you can connect them with a special picture or feeling. That’s just how our brain works. (I’m currently reading about this topic so I might continue that thought in another post later on. Feel free to remind me if you’re interested in it 🙂 )

Games

I tried all the games “Langenscheidt IQ Vokabeltrainer Englisch” has to offer and I’m a big fan of the general idea of using interactive learning because it’s funny and if you enjoy the task you’re doing you’re more motivated to keep going 🙂 So I think it’s great that Langenscheidt followed this attempt in the app.

I enjoyed playing “Letter Puzzle”, “Match It!” and “Buzzer” and I really consider them being helpful when it comes to remembering words more easily (especially because of the pictures which were used), but there were also some things which I don’t like about them. Just to give you an insight into it:

In “Match it!”, for instance, you can only find the matching picture to the English word, which appears at the bottom of the app. Especially because the pictures aren’t always self-explaining, it would be great to see the German translation, too.

Unfortunately, I also developed a quite strained relationship to the features “Wortliste” (Word list) and “Meine Wörter” (My words) much to my regret.

Wortliste

Instead of the list view, I’d prefer traditional flashcards, because in my humble opinion flashcards are clearer and make it easier to learn the vocabulary. The list view in “Wortliste” seemed a bit overloaded for me, though it is great that the app keeps examples ready to show how to use a particular word in a sentence.

Besides this, I was really looking forward to the recording feature, but it seems that there is a problem because it doesn’t work at all on my iPhone (iOs 11.2) 🙁 I’m hugely disappointed because I think it’s a lovely idea to offer the possibility to listen to the words spoken by a native speaker with the correct pronunciation. And also the feature to record your own voice, so you can compare it with the native’s recording, is brilliant.

Meine Wörter

Again, it’s a great attemptto offer a function that allows you to add own words. After reading the app description, “Meine Wörter” (My Words) was the feature I was most looking forward to trying, but sadly it didn’t work the way I think it’s supposed to work.

As you can see in the gallery above, adding words proved to be difficult, because it’s hard to identify in which row you’re supposed to type in the English and in which the German term; the row label is unreadable, you’ve got to guess.

Additionally, I wasn’t able to add a picture to a word. No matter whether I tried to take a picture or whether I tried to add it from my photo albums, the app crashed. But it’s designed for words being connected with pictures because otherwise, you can only see white symbols on the list. (As you can also see in the gallery above.)

Before you can finally learn your own added words, you’ve got to click on the matching picture (given that you’ve been able to add some) and then on “Wort ansehen” (show word), only then you get the English term and its German translation.

It would be fantastic if you could learn your added words in the games as well, but unfortunately, that isn’t possible. Neither can you add whole sentences, because they’re too long.


Conclusion

I think Langenscheidt developed a lovely interactive training, which fits with the desires and needs of people who don’t have much prior knowledge of the English language or any at all and who just got started improving their English.

The games are a fun way to learn vocabulary and they help to stay motivated. The visual attempt helps to remember words more easily. I really like this concept 🙂

That’s the reason why I hoped the app might be useful for advanced learners as well, especially when I read about the function “Meine Wörter” and the recording feature; turned out I was mistaken. The general idea of these functions is great, but much to my regret the implementation hasn’t been able to convince me entirely given the fact that they didn’t work properly. Pity!

And I think that’s the sticking point. The app’s focus lies in the vocabulary already provided by Langenscheidt. “Meine Wörter” is only an additional service. Nevertheless, it’s written in the app description that you get access to these functions when you purchase the full version for € 10.00, what I think is much money. And it’s quite frustrating actually if it turns out that you can’t use them properly, even if you’ve paid.  (Especially if the only reason why you purchased the app was that you were interested in these particular features.)

I’m sorry, as I am rather an advanced learner (kinda proud to be able to write that actually 😀 ), and due to the fact I already tested a lot of different apps, software and other methods to learn vocabulary, I’m probably quite difficult to please. (And it’s perhaps not helpful that I’m a hardcore perfectionist with super high expectations, is it? 😉 ) But even if the app doesn’t work for me, nonetheless it might be working for you. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the app, but I’d only recommend it to total beginners and I also think there’s still room for improvement 😉 Well, two years have passed since the last update, so it’s actually time for a new one, isn’t it? We’ll see, maybe we’re lucky 😀 )


What’s your way learning vocabulary? Let me know, I’m really curious 🙂 Take care, everyone!

Wo ist Bär? by Jonathan Bentley

 

Storyline

Theo is really unhappy. He must go to bed but he couldn’t find his bear. Being really tired he’s looking for him. Everywhere. Did he leave him in the bathroom? Or has he fallen under the table? Where is bear? Can you help him find it?


© CARLSEN
© CARLSEN

Bibliographic Description

Title: Wo ist Bär?
Author: Jonathan Bentley
Illustrator: Jonathan Bentley
Translator: Constanze Steindamm
Publisher: CARLSEN, Hamburg
Publishing Date: 01.09.2016
Pages: 32 pages
Price: € 12.99 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9783551518781
Language: German
Recommendation: for readers of the age of 3 and up / language level A1
Ranking: 5.0 von 5.0

The original edition called Where Is Bear? first published in English in 2016 by Little Hare Books.


My Opinion

Wo ist Bär? not a long story, and neither it is particularly grabbing. But it doesn’t have to be! It’s lovely anyway. It’s about a situation from everyday life, which probably everyone has experienced as a child at least once: You must go to bed, but you couldn’t find your beloved cuddly toy.

Jonathan Bentley has successfully implemented this situation in a cute picture-book. Not only in words, but in pictures as well.

I love the colours he chose for his illustrations because they create a very cosy atmosphere. I also like the fact that there are some “main colours” (blue, brown and green) which you find on every page throughout the book.

I also fell in love with the way he drew Theo, the little boy and main character of Wo ist Bär? Isn’t he cute? I like his drawing style in general though.


Conclusion

I think there aren’t many picture-books with less text, which are exciting to read for adults. In my opinion, this one is a wonderful exception; especially because of its witty plot. And there is not one single point I could complain about, so five of five points it is 😀


 

Dear Enthusiasts of The German Language

Wo ist Bär? is a great way for beginners to improve your German skills. Are you struggling with learning prepositions? Then try this book. On almost every page you’ll find another preposition used in a short sentence (five words and less), which are accompanied by clear illustrations.


Dear Enthusiasts of The English Language

The English edition would be also a quite nice way to learn prepositions I guess. But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available in bookshops any more. Shame! But if you’re interested in it, you might be able to borrow it in your local library (or the next bigger one). Alternatively, you might be able to order it second hand. (Hopefully to a reasonable price.)

 

Kleiner Panda Pai – Auf leisen Tatzen by Saskia Hula and Kerstin Schoene

Storyline

Oh dear, the 10th rabbit child is missing…. How could that even have happened?! While little red panda Pai, who thought Wildpark life wouldn’t hold ready anything new for him at all, is still wondering about that mysterious missing person case, his friend Wanda has already sensed a new adventure. But even her detective agency suffers from a shortage of staff faced with the high amount of witnesses. Without hesitation, the racoon girl is with the pink bow tie in her fur pushed Pai right into the investigations and declared Pai to be detective assistant. How exciting! But will Pai be able to perform his new task? Or will he suffer the same fate as Anderson? (Yep. I AM referring to the Sherlock series in a picture book review… #iamsorry #butijustcouldnothelpit 😅)


Bibliographic Description

© Loewe Verlag

Title: Kleiner Panda Pai – Auf leisen Tatzen
Author: Saskia Hula
Illustrator: Kerstin Schoene
Publisher: Loewe Verlag, Bindlach
Publishing Date: 16.01.2017
Pages: 32 pages
Price: € 12.95 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-3-7855-8472-9
Language: German
Recommendation: for readers of the age of 3 years and up / language level A2/B1
Ranking: 3.75 of 5.0

 


My Opinion

When I discovered Panda Pai for the first time, I’ve instantly fallen in love with the illustrations. I love the way the characters (and especially their facial expressions) look like. Merlin’s beard, aren’t they cute? 😀

The style of painting seemed to be familiar to me, but a proper reason didn’t come to my mind. So I visited Kerstin Schoene’s website and finally realised why. “Die Geschichte vom kleinen Siebenschläfer, der nicht einschlafen konnte” and “Ein Haufen Freunde” are amongst the books she has illustrated so far, and I really enjoyed them.

I also enjoyed her illustrations for „Panda Pai“, because they are so colourful and cheerful. And I mean, the main character is a red panda. I know, liking red cat-bears is kinda trendy these days, but let’s face it: You can’t resist them, can you? 😀 They are SO adorable. It’s also quite difficult to resist Kerstin Schoene’s depiction of racoons, rabbits and meerkats as well😉

About the story, I like Saskia Hula’s choice of words best. I think her sentences sound quite melodic and there is something special about them, but some of the words she used I find unnecessarily difficult to understand for children at the age of three (like geraunt or dubios, for instance.) I also missed an arch of suspense. As it is a detective story, I expected it to be way more thrilling. But if you pay only a little attention to the illustrations, the story is quite predictable. Too bad! 😕


Conclusion

Though I liked the gorgeous illustrations and the author’s style of writing pretty much, I’ve got to deduct 1.25 points; 0.75 points for the lack of suspense and 0.5 more points for the difficult language choice.

In my humble opinion the story of “Kleiner Panda Pai – Auf leisen Tatzen” really is a cute one and worth a read, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been able to convince me entirely.


Dear Enthusiasts of the German Language

It wasn’t easy to recommend a language level. recommend this book, but I go with A2/B1. “Kleiner Panda Pai – Auf leisen Tatzen” wouldn’t be my first choice, if you would ask me for a recommendation to improve your reading skills in German. In the texts are words used, which I would never use in a normal everyday life conversation; geraunt, verdrossen or dubios, for instance.


 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Storyline

Autumn Semester, 2011. Cath and Wren Avery’s first year at university starts and with it, a new exciting part of their lives begins as well. The twins couldn’t deal with it more different though. While extrovert Wren is throwing herself in this new adventure enthusiastically, Cath, who is a big fan of the “Simon Snow” novels, would rather flee. When Wren finally decided that she won’t share a room with her sister any longer, Cath is being shocked. Suddenly, she is just on her own. She has to face situations she thinks she won’t be able to manage all on her own. How should she ever manage to find her way in her new scary college life, whose rules she doesn’t know yet? How much easier would it be if she could live in the world of Simon and Baz; in a world, which she cares about and which she understands. So well that she’s even able to form it after her own imagination…


© Carl Hanser Verlag
© Carl Hanser Verlag

Bibliographic Description

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Translator: Brigitte Jakobeit
Publishing house: Carl Hanser Verlag, München
Publishing date: 24.07.2017
Pages: 480 pages
Price: € 18.00 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-3-446-25700-9
Language: German
Recommendation: for readers from the age of 13 and up / language level B2/C1
Ranking: 4.75 of 5.0
The original edition has been published in English on 09.10.2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin (St. Martin’s Press).


My Opinion

Fangirl filled me with enthusiasm! I binge-read it within three days. I always read quite slowly, so this statement is definitely a sign of quality 😉

The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains autumn semester 2011, the second one contains spring semester 2012. So the story involves the whole freshman year.

Cath is the main character and guides through the story. I think, she’s a wonderful figure and I took her into my heart from the first few pages. She’s a loveable person, and I’m sure that a lot of boys and girls, who have some difficulties with being social and who are also at a turning point in their lives, will identify themselves with her. Or 24 years old book addicts, who weren’t able yet to figure out what adulthood actually means 😉 (And probably never will. #adulthoodisamyth) I also like every other character, because they are all so likeable and authentic. (Alright, the mother isn’t really likeable, though, also authentic.)

Additionally, I love the way how harmoniously Cath’s love to the “Simon Snow” universe has been connected to the actual story. For a better understanding of all these references, there has been background information put together before the first chapter. Great idea to make it look like a Wikipedia entry. (Accordingly to it, “Simon Snow” is a book series for children, written by Gemma T. Leslie, which became a bestseller all over the world. At the beginning of “Fangirl”, seven books have been published so far.) There are a lot of references relating to the fandom throughout the story, in form of mentions, excerpts and, at the end of every single chapter, quotes. Well done! I’ve been able to get a bit lost in the Simon Snow stories as well. But I’m still trying to figure out how the quotes have been arranged. It’s definitely not a chronological order, but what is it instead? Does a system exist at all? Or am I just too stupid to figure it out? (Well, not unlikely, I admit :D) Anyway, there was something really cool about a particular quote, which definitely proofs how well Rainbow Rowell managed to connect both the actual story and the Simon Snow universe. The first sentence in Cath’s story is: “Ein Junge war in ihrem Zimmer.” (“There was a boy in her room.” / page 9.) That’s a reference to the first sentence in “Simon Snow und der Erbe des Magiers” (Simon Snow and the heir of the mage): “In Simons Zimmer war ein Junge.” (“In Simon’s room was a boy.” / page 18.) Even I noticed 😉 Really cool!

The pace was quite steady throughout the story. Until the few last chapters. Suddenly, the pace changed and everything started to happen quite fast. Even too fast, for my liking. And that’s the reason why I’ve got to deduct 0.25 points in the ranking. I wish I’d have had more time to say goodbye to the characters…

I’m currently reading the English edition, by the way. (Yes, straight afterwards. Yes, I’m kinda crazy.) And I need to say, that Brigitte Jakobeit really convinced as a translator. I don’t think that anything has been lost in translation. I think she was rather able to strike Rainbow Rowell’s writing style and the tone of the story quite well and to transfer it into the German language. Well done! That definitely has to be mentioned 🙂


Conclusion

After reading the blurb, I couldn’t resist the temptation to start reading the story. (The cover looks beautiful, as well. Lovely designed.) And I haven’t been disappointed. It’s a magical and honest book. And with much more draught than I expected. Must read! And in case you’re not ready to leave the Simon Snow universe after reading “Fangirl” I’ve got some comforting news for you: There has been published a spin-off called “Carry on” (or in German “Aufstieg und Fall des außerordentlichen Simon Snow“), which you can start reading directly afterwards 😉 Anyhow, I will! And I’m really looking forward to it 😀


Dear Enthusiasts of The German Language

As soon as you reach an intermediate niveau, it gets quite difficult to recommend a language level you might need to read a book. How much you’ll understand depends a lot on your vocabulary. Two people, both being intermediate learners, don’t have precisely the same vocabulary. But I’d like to recommend Fangirl to readers, who already read books written by John Greenbecause for me it was as challenging as these. I think you’ll enjoy this book with fewer difficulties if you reached language level B2/C1.