At the outset of the learning experience, ABA English gives you the option to either dive right in to the learning process, or alternatively, offers you a proficiency test in order to calculate your level of skill in the comprehension of the language. The latter option certainly makes the most sense if the language-learner is unsure about their level of skill in understanding and answering questions on the basics of English, so the developer’s decision to include this proficiency test is a very good one.
Furthermore, the inclusion of a language proficiency test ensures that absolute beginners do not get discouraged by being presented with lessons and questions that are beyond their skill level. Conversely, it ensures that those with some degree of proficiency in the language do not spend their time going over materials that are below their skill level.
An App with Content
Whether you choose to take the proficiency test or simply start the app, the main body of its content remains the same. The English-learning content of the app is structed into difficulty levels, each with roughly the same amount of content in each (around 20+ video-based lessons in each). You begin with the “Beginner” section, designed to introduce newcomers to basics of speech such as pronouns, tenses, and contractions, articles, and nouns.
As you make progress through each of the modules, you will encounter “Lower Intermediate”, “Intermediate”, “Upper Intermediate”, “Advanced”, and then “Business” sections of the app, which cover the asking/answering of questions, possessive pronouns, and future tenses, right the way up to the more complex aspects of the English language such as mixed conditionals and phrasal verbs (look down on, call off, make up.
In total, there are 144 videos, each of which represents one “module” of learning. This app therefore has an excellent body of content that language-learners can get to grips with. Furthermore, the design and more importantly the approach that the app takes to drilling in the knowledge and testing learners on the content is a little different to the methods employed by rival apps such as Duolingo or Busuu.
A Multimedia, Multi-Angled Approach
ABA English’s video-based approach is one not seen in many (if any) of the rival English learning apps available today. The app doesn’t simply present learners with the videos and test them in a simplistic manner, however. After watching any one of the multitude of videos contained within each difficulty section of the app, you are then presented with what truly makes this app unique: a series of tests and challenges that explore the various branches that comprise the learning of any language: speech, writing, interpretation, and vocabulary.
The speech aspect of the learning experience firstly has the learner listen to excerpts from the video they have just watched, and then has the learner tap the “speech” button in order to record themselves speaking the phrases in question. This is an excellent way to drill the nuances of speech and ensures that the learner is practising how to saythe words/sentences out loud, and not just the act of comprehending them solely within their own mind.
The writing aspect of learning a language is then covered in the “Write” section, which encourages the learner to listen to phrases that featured in the initial video, requiring the learner to then write the phrase down. This builds on the speech aspect of the learning process, developing their writing skills and adding to their all-round ability to read, write, understand, and genuinely interpret the meaning of the words, phrases, and sentences that are being learnt.
Once you have then completed the speech, writing, and interpretation sections, there are supplementary sections which aim to further build up the learner’s knowledge of the language. These involve a video class from a genuine language teacher/professional, exercises that take the form of question-and-answer/insert-the-correct-word challenges, and a vocabulary section which covers many of the words that feature in that unit. Finally, each unit concludes with an assessment that covers all the things that should have been learnt within that unit. This assessment can only be undertaken when all the sections within that unit have been completed by the user.
Design and Premium Approach
ABA English has a noticeably polished design, and one that puts it about level with the most popular language learning apps like Duolingo, Busuu, and Babbel. The app looks extremely professional; however, it can be somewhat slow to load if you are using an older device, and for some devices that are significantly older, will not even be compatible for use. The videos are presented cleanly and arranged neatly on the screen, while the multi-faceted exercises that follow the video are presented in order in an easily-accessible fashion.
The biggest downside of the app is arguably the fact that much of the content is restricted if you are a free user. Although there are plenty of lessons on the ABA English site to access for free, as well as quite a bit of beginner/intermediate content on the app, you will have to enter into its pricing structure to access the full content. This stands at £19.99 per month, £10.50 (6-monthly), or £2.08 (yearly). Paying for premium provides the full content, as well as additional videos, a dedicated native teacher, and “English content pills” that are released daily.