Speeko: Great Potential That Falls Short (Language Learning App)

Speeko is a language learning app with a lot of really interesting features that could possible make it a worthy competitor for popular language learning apps like Duolingo and Memrise if they were to buckle down and fix their app. Unfortunately, despite all it has to offer, Speeko has some technical issues that make this app fall flat.

In this review, I'm going to go into what I really like about this app along with what I really don't like with the hopes that the Speeko Team fixes these issues in future updates.

Let's start with what I like:

The lesson formats are pretty interesting. They have some key phrases and words they try to get across and you have to write them in a translation style written lesson. Lesson 3 is an optional listening test where you write the phrase you hear. For French, there is a problem that arises at this point: whether you use accents or not, the app accepts your answer. As long as you have spelled the sentence correctly, regardless of accents, it will be marked correct.  This is a big no-no in my book. 

I want to point out the useful Podcast feature, which is a 2-minute recording of someone reading basic phrases that pertain to the lesson. If you have some background in French already these are helpful for listening practice. 

I like their concept of being a traveler, and every correct answer puts you further in your journey. I think they could really expand upon this some more in the future.

I really like their interactive vocab database. It keeps track of all of the words they teach you, along with conjugations, with some audio files to aid pronunciation. I think this is a really neat feature!

This app supposedly says they can offer 'free lessons' but this raised a bit of a red flag in my mind and I haven't seen any information anywhere that quality, free lessons have taken place. As a concept though, wow! Generous. They offer mini-lessons on Tiktok, but as I do not use TikTok I can't speak to the quality or length of these lessons.

What I don't like:

The first issue at hand that has made my life a nightmare: the 'skip through levels feature' is bugged.

 The app lets you skip a couple levels, but then totally breaks and from then on you are not able to test out of any content. Lessons are then downloaded additionally one by one, and you can't skip through anything. Additionally, there is no option to ignore words you already know, so you just have to grind through known content hoping to find something new. 

Speekoo currently offers no option to mute audio or adjust the volume at all without turning off your phone's volume entirely. 

There's no account feature on this app, so therefore there are no settings. If the app is deleted your progress will be reset. 

Whatever service they use to capture audio for oral exercises is not the best and often mishears you.

The app offers articles and videos (a very cool thing in concept) but doesn't utilize them for language learning. With all the bright pictures and fancy facts about France, I expected that at least some of their article based content would be written in French to help learners. The "articles" (I'm being generous calling them that, one of them is an article and the other two are about 5 sentences of 'fun facts') could be a wonderful way of giving extra vocab.  

Speekoo also includes YouTube videos from people that are not related to their company but have the title that pertains to the area of France they are talking about. It's nice to offer free publicity for these creators, but I wonder if they have contacted these creators regarding the use of their videos on the app, and the inclusion of these influencer videos doesn't seem to pose any linguistic benefit. 

I'm (insert level here) in French, should I use this app?

If you are a French learner (A0-A1) I think this app would be a good launching pad for you. If you are obsessed with France and French culture, the extra content would be really interesting for you as well. 

If you are a French Learner (A2-B2) I don't recommend this app at its current stage. I think it has a long way to go until they find their identity and expand as an app, and until then it's not worth it for you to sift through 12 lessons at a time, grinding to try and find a new vocabulary word. The app currently has 20 levels (going until an 'Advanced' level) but even their advanced French is only scratching the surface of A2.

All in all, despite how much I may have criticized this app, I really like it and hope the creators continue to pour love into it. Free language learning resources are always welcome around here! :)