Creating a language app compact enough to run on an iPod is certainly a challenge, and AccelaStudy has not met it with this Russian module. If you plan to learn Russian as an absolute beginner, be warned that this app will not get you there. It’s strictly a vocabulary builder, and one that only those who read the Cyrillic alphabet will find useful. AccelaStudy includes no videos, no photographs, no pronunciation guide, and not even any complete sentences. Just Russian and English words, grouped into several classifications with recorded pronunciations for each. The English word is shown in our Roman alphabet, but the Russian equivalent is shown in Cyrillic with no phonetic pronunciation. All the student can do is listen to the speaker and attempt to imitate her. This would be a learning challenge in any language, but with one as unfamiliar to most of us as Russian, and one with few real cognates, it’s a roadblock. For example, to learn “egg” in Spanish, a screen could show the English word “egg” and the Spanish, “huevo” and a pronunciation that sounds just like its spelled. Still not a great way to learn, but comprehensible.In AccelaStudy Russian, you get “egg,” “яичко,” and the spoken “yey-tso.” That’s one of the easy ones. Many of the words don’t lend themselves to easy pronunciation, and the native speaker isn’t about to slow down for her students.

The interface is neat and well-organized, but hardly intuitive. To get to a particular word grouping such as Food or Automotive, you tap PLAN, which brings up CATEGORIES, which brings up the list. The default is “all selected,” so you will have to deselect all, select the one you want to study, and then go back two screens to STUDY which will load the lesson. Actually, there are no real lessons; just single words in English and Russian. You can also group several categories into study sets, which can be saved. Flashcards require you to pronounce the word with the spelling and proper pronunciation written on the back. Written and audio quizzes are available, but the written quiz asks only for the choice of Russian spelling for the English word shown. With no instruction in the alphabet, the answer is somewhere between simple pattern recognition and pure guesswork. There is also a search feature which could be very useful as a translation tool, as it brings up both the written and spoken version of the English word searched.

Overall, this app will never teach anyone Russian from the ground up. However, if you read some Cyrillic and want to practice your vocabulary, or if you need an emergency translator, you might find it useful.


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