The LingvoSoft FlashCards software are the electronic version of memory games. With a long list of languages supported (Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Latvian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish) the program allows users to improve vocabulary while playing easy to learn games.
The program uses dictionaries with pairs of words, one in each language. These dictionaries can be added at any time, and can be separated by topic. For our review I've selected the Portuguese-English version. This version came with pre-installed dictionaries covering General words, Business, Law, Medicine, PC (as in Personal Computer words, not politically correct words).
Pre-installed dictionaries in the English-Portuguese version
Each dictionary can have hundreds of pairs. For example, the General words dictionary comes in three separate blocks, each with 1000 pairs.
The games are very easy to learn, and the program will keep the status for each game, including current position and statistics. This is important because each game will randomly present “blocks” of 50 word pairs and after a block is completed you'll start a new block, with other words. If you complete a block, then a new block will start. Interesting to note that you have to complete the block without closing the program (a soft reset for example), otherwise the current block will start from the beginning again.
You can of course navigate away from one block by using a scroll list. The list show which blocks are completed and which ones have words to go. At any time a reset feature can be used to restart the statistics for these blocks.
Before starting a game I just have to select what dictionary to use and what direction, i.e. English to Portuguese or Portuguese to English.
The games are “Flash Cards”, “Pockets”, “Translation Test” and “Spell It Right”.
In Flash Cards I was presented with a word and had to remember the translation. There's an option to always show the translation, but what's the fun? If you know the word, tap the gray box and check that your (educated) guess is correct. If it is tap “Drop” to move to the next word in this block, otherwise tap “Skip” to be presented with another word – but the number of remaining words in the block is not reduced.
Flash Cards: remember the translation (it is hidden behind the card)
Some valuable statistics information: how many words did I really know?
In Pockets I was presented with four tabs, with the last one containing a block of 50 pairs. The objective is to move all 50 pairs from the lowest tab to the next up. The words are always the same in all tabs, so in fact I am presented with the same word three times for each block. And you only finish a tab when the number of pairs in the block is 0.
Pockets: move the blocks from the bottom to the top
Pockets: like in Flash Cards, the answer is hiding behind the card
Pockets: just checking it's correct
Translation Test is a multiple choice game. Again we play with a block containing 50 pairs. I am presented with a word in the first language selected, and four options. If I tap “Skip” another question is presented but, you guessed it, the number of pairs is not decreased. The number of pairs only go down if I tap the correct translation. Incorrect answers are removed from the list of options until the only remaining word is the correct one.
Translation: multiple choices
In the last game, “Spell It Right” I have to actually write the translation so I can drop the pair from the block. If you don't know the spelling, tap the gray button for a hint – but you can only write while the word is hidden.
Spell It Right: can only move if the word is correctly entered
The games are easy and do not take much time. Blocks can be quickly completed and by the end of each one I'm sure you'll learn something new.
Users can add their own dictionaries too, either by entering the words directly on the Pocket PC, or by using a free program that runs on the desktop and create the required dictionary file from a text file or clipboard.
When creating your own dictionaries simply select the pair of From – To languages being used, and make sure to configure the columns (word separator, codepage). Otherwise, it works easily and fast. Simply copy the resulting file to the Pocket PC (or Palm) and use the Tools | Add User's Dictionary option to have it listed for the next game.
Creating a dictionary: input options
Checking the pairs are correct
The quality of the dictionaries offered for our tests was good. Words used the proper diacritics required in the language and the translations were accurate, although for European Portuguese, not the Brazilian Portuguese. Like the English used in the UK and in the US, there are differences in the Portuguese used in those two places. I guess this is not much of a problem for some of the other languages offered.