It’s been almost exactly a year since I did my review of FlashSticks and their app. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by one of their reps, who claimed that they had changed practically everything about their app, including the name and they were going to have a full German course built into their app. They asked me to take a look at it and see what I thought. So, this is what I thought about the app, now called FlashAcademy. Let’s start out with what isn’t new. Obviously, you can still buy the physical FlashSticks and scan them with your app, like you could before. This is still FlashSticks bread and butter. The object scanner has the same functionality as before, but there is a great improvement on the types of translations it gave me. The translations used to be a bit overly complicated, but now they seem to be more streamlined. Occasionally, the app gets overwhelmed and it really doesn’t know what to do with all of that information, but most simple things turn out ok. (Robot voice) gold, rot, gelb und schwarz Deutschland Deutschland Karte Ornament but the simple things still turn out ok. You can also simplify these things by reducing the words once the translation comes up. My only real complaint is the app’s total disregard for adjective ending rules in German. Sometimes it picks the nominative case. Sometimes it picks the accusative case. Sometimes it doesn’t bother putting an ending of any kind on the adjective. Sometimes it just pretends that that there isn’t an adjective there. What I am trying to say is that it works great if you know some German, but you can’t remember the German word for that Dingsbums over there. If you can correct its grammar, you should be able to use this without an issue. If you are hoping for grammatically correct compound nouns for all of the things in your house, however, you may be disappointed. Everything else in the app has changed. There is now a German language course that at first glance looks strikingly similar to Duolingo, but after a closer inspection you will see a big difference. When you click on a lesson, you will be given the option to start the lesson or to view the flashcards. I suggest starting with the flashcards, as there is more than just a flashcards here. You can find a native speaker’s audio pronunciation (Native Speaker) Der Himmel and a video of a native speaker saying the word, so you can see how their mouth moves when they say the word. (Native Speaker) Die Marmelade The audio files are great, but the video clips look like they forgot about making them until they reached some sort of corporate deadline and they threw this together in the office just before Feierabend. They are effective in their purpose, but they just seem like they lack the quality and polished look of the rest of the app. You can also record yourself saying the word and play the audio. I realized that it won’t let me screen record and play my own audio recording at the same time, so I don’t have a video of that, but you get the idea. In addition to just the word or phrase and image on the flashcard, you can also find example sentences using the word or phrase on the flashcards. There are also grammar tips. If the flashcard includes a noun, you will be shown the plural form of the noun. If the flashcard is a verb, you will be shown the conjugation of that verb in the present tense. In the early lessons, these conjugations will be in the present tense, but they will teach you the other tenses when you get further into the app. There is also a button that says “tutor”, but this feature isn’t available yet. When I asked the FlashSticks rep about it, he said that they are planning on adding grammar and cultural videos with native speakers to that. The lessons themselves are interesting. It starts by showing you a flashcard with an image and definition. Then you go on to a multiple choice question for that same word. Sometimes you have to type out the answer to the question. If you get a letter wrong, it shows up in red and has a different sound than the correct answers. Sometimes you are only given the audio (native speaker saying, “zusammen”) and you have to choose the English word. Sometimes you are shown a German word and you have to choose the image that goes with this. When you are in the food portion, this is a bit tricky, as they have “food”, “lunch”, and “to eat lunch” in the same section and it seems pretty similar to me. The system always says the German word when you see it (Native speaker) Die Mutter and when you answer a question. (Native speaker) Die Mutter This makes sure you always hear the German word while you go through the lesson. (Native speaker) der Sohn If you click “next” too soon, however, you won’t hear the German, as you didn’t give the system time to say the word. Occasionally, you are given culture tips, grammar tips, or other tips. These tips are sometimes pretty simple, but other times they include things about the cases, possessive words, or conjugation. The cultural tips are usually about a certain word and how they are used in conversational German. These tips are one of my favorite parts about this app. It is a great break from the questions and it really rounds out the app well. At the end of each lesson you have to put words in the correct order to make German sentences. It works the same way that the spelling version does in that it will turn red if you get a word wrong. The very last thing in the lesson is always a short dialogue and a true/false question. This is to test your ability to understand a short conversation based on the vocabulary you have learned so far. I think this is a cool idea, but for some reason it doesn’t read the conversation to you and I would have liked to have seen that done since everything else is read by a native speaker in this app. When you have finished a lesson, you are given some experience points as a reward and you are prompted to continue or view the flashcards for the lesson. Upon completing your first lesson, you get access to the “Word Games”. There are five games (actually 6, I forgot the Boggle looking one) that are presented as one challenge. One game gives you a word and four options as the translation. You have to choose the correct one before it disappears. There is a true/false sorting game, which gives you one word to look for and you have to sort out the ones you don’t need. There is a matching game that is sort of mixed with a memory game. There is also a spinning wheel that you are supposed to stop on the correct word. The last game is a balloon popping game. You have to match the vocabulary words to pop the balloons. Personally, I think that learning through games is awesome. It adds motivation to an otherwise boring review routine. These games, however, I find to be stressful. You are timed and you are aiming for a score over 50,000 points. The higher the level you are on, the faster the words disappear and the faster you have to work. I get the concept and I understand that they want you to be able to know the words quickly, but I just feel stressed when I play them. Obviously, this is a personality issue and not an issue with the app, but I feel like I can’t be the only one that feels this way about these games. There is also one glitch in this system, which covers up the balloons at the bottom of the game. I’m sure someone in the design department thought that this makes the game challenging, because you have to find the matches at the top first, but I personally just find it frustrating, because I know what the word is and I know what the answer is, but I know it has to be at the bottom where it’s covered up and I can’t see the word. Considering that this app is very new, the fact that I only found one actual error in content is pretty impressive. (native speaker) die Pasta When they teach you the word “pasta” it shows the German word “die Nudeln”, but says the German word “Pasta”. (native speaker) die Pasta It is a pretty small issue in the grand scheme of things, but it is a bit confusing. The greatest drawback of this app is that it is stuck behind one of the highest paywalls I have seen. The free app includes the object scanner and the FlashSticks scanner, but everything else is behind the paywall. Of course, you can try a few lessons for free before you decide to upgrade. While I am certainly not against paying for apps or learning programs, I think that their price point here is way too high. For one month you will have to pay $8.49. If you buy more than one month you get a discount. 3 months for $6 each, 6 months for $4.67 each, and 12 months for $3.58 each. If you buy the 12 month plan they will send you a free pack of FlashSticks, which is a $6.47 value. I think there is definitely enough value in this app to have it as a paid app. I have seen much worse apps that you have to pay for without actually knowing what you’re getting. This app is fantastic, but I still wouldn’t pay almost $9 for a month of access to it. What I would like to see is the option to purchase a set of FlashSticks and get a month or two of access to the premium app. This would be a way for them to still make some much deserved cash from this app and draw in more users. After that, people might be willing to pay $3-5 per month to access it. Since there are three levels of FlashSticks, you could always gain an extra month or two of access to the app by purchasing more FlashSticks and you could get them while you learn through the app. If you are going to upgrade, I think that the only option that is actually worth the price, is the 12 month plan, because it gives you a pack of FlashSticks and the price is only $43 for the whole year. I’ve got links to all of this stuff in the description. If you download it, let me know what you think of it. I personally am going to be keeping this app around for a while to see if I can complete the entire course and see what else it will teach you. You can add me as a friend on the app by adding my email [email protected] Let me know what you think of the app in the comments below. Das ist alles für heute. Danke fürs Zuschauen. Bis zum nächsten Mal. Tschüss.