Picking up Spanish the natural way
Sometimes the best way to learn a new language is to throw yourself in at the deep end and immerse yourself in a country’s sights, sounds and culture. Or you could play Learn Spanish with Ruby Rei – a new mobile game for iOS and Android that teaches you Spanish as you play on your smartphone.
iOS and Android (Click to download)
What does it do?
Ruby Rei is an adventure game for your smartphone with a similar feel to the clue-finding point and click PC games of the 1990’s, like The Adventures of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. What makes Ruby Rei so different, however, is that it can help you learn a new language as you play.
You take on the role of Ruby Rei – a young girl attempting to save her friend and find her way home. You’ll explore jungle landscapes, meet warriors, mystical gods, and friendly locals, as you use your new language skills to find clues, build relationships, and reach your goal.
What did we like?
Rather than the traditional baby steps approach of teaching you a new language, Ruby Rei throws you straight into conversational Spanish straight from the off.
The game’s entire dialogue is spoken in Spanish, with Spanish subtitles so you can visualise each word. But don’t worry if your lingo is limited to a simple “hola” – because tapping on the subtitles reveals the English translation.
The teaching part comes naturally through repetition. You’ll soon become familiar with certain words and phrases, and start to translate each word in your head, without having to tap on the subtitles to translate them. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up Spanish without realising, in a way that feels natural.
And that’s where the game excels. Where other apps and methods can feel forced to begin with, Ruby Rei offers a less intimidating first step towards learning a new language, and lets you get a feel for it before you fully commit to pricier learning materials such as Rosetta Stone.
What could be better?
After finishing the game’s 22 chapters, we’d have welcomed some language-learning mini games to refresh your memory once it’s all over.
We love the example set by popular language app, Duolingo – where you can match words to colourful pictures. If some of the same were applied to Ruby Rei, it would have given us the chance to put into practice what we learnt. But while apps such as Duolingo teach you more of the basics to get you by everyday tasks, it doesn’t capture the feel of a language quite like the experience of playing Ruby Rei.
A second play-through makes you realise how much progress you’ve made in familiarising yourself with your new language. A glossary of words, phrases and pronunciations you can listen to at any time would have been a nice bonus, too.
We love the idea of learning a new language while playing a video game. Ruby Rei makes learning Spanish fun and engaging. The best part is, you can play it anywhere on your smartphone. It certainly made our train journeys more productive.
App developer, Wibbu, is planning to introduce two new versions to teach you Portuguese and Mandarin this summer, so look out for those. In the meantime we’ll be looking forward to more language-learning games in future.
If you’ve got any questions, drop us a comment below. And don’t hesitate to tell us what you think of Learn Spanish with Ruby Rei.