Word Dive uses artificial intelligence and short exercises to help language learners commit study items to long-term memory. The app provides instruction in ten languages and is available for desktop, iOS, and Android.
It’s very easy to use, but I thought the material was limited.
You can practice vocabulary and grammar, but there are almost no grammar explanations.
It isn’t very expensive, but other resources are similarly priced and more comprehensive.
It’s convenient for mobile language practice
It’s fun to use
Partial credit answers motivate you to stretch yourself
I DON’T LIKE…
There are almost no grammar explanations.
I found the exercises repetitive.
Word Dive is available for a subscription.
|Subscription Period||Price/Month||Payment Scheme|
|Three months||$9.33||One time payment of $27.99|
|Six months||$8.00||One time payment of $47.99|
|One year||$6.67||One time payment of $79.99|
English, German, Spanish, Finnish, French, Swedish, Japanese, Estonian, Russian, and Italian.
Combine a strong affinity for things under the sea and a desire to make the lives of language learners easier, and you might produce something similar to Word Dive.
Available in ten different languages, Word Dive uses artificial intelligence to make language learning more efficient and convenient.
In its short-and-sweet exercises, you’ll encounter and practice vocabulary terms and grammar points from your computer or mobile device, but it’s on mobile that I think Word Dive performs best. The animations are playful and the interface is easy to get around.
For how simple this app is, it promises a lot. Their website claims you’ll be able to “Learn a new language in three months!” This assumes you’ll be using the app for 45-minutes a day, five days a week. That still makes their three-month subscription price an absolute steal if you’ll truly be fluent.
Too good to be true, or a miracle language app? I’ve got a hunch, but I try out an Italian subscription to find out for sure.
For me, the mobile version was much more enjoyable to use than the web version. There are many more animations, and I think the layout is nicer. It seems to be built with mobile in mind, and I quickly decided to use it almost exclusively on my phone.
The main screen in the Word Dive mobile app is of a deep-sea scene with a progress meter and the Word Dive submarine. There are no words on this screen, but navigation is pretty intuitive.
For the Grammar courses, selecting the top Italian flag brings me to verb conjugation practice; the bottom flag is for adjective practice. The three stars to the right of the flags show your progress in each course.
Clearly I hadn’t made it very far through the course at this point.
The graphic at the top of the screen represents the specific course you’re currently taking. In this case, I’m taking the grammar course, represented by the target and arrow.
Selecting the target gives me the chance to change my language goal.
You also have the option to adjust your daily learning goal, which helps the app notify you when you’ve studied long enough each day.
I wouldn’t call the exercises on Word Dive diverse. In fact, I only ever came across two types: multiple-choice, and write the translation.
The goal here is to complete the translation by selecting the correct letter, one at a time, from the six options at the bottom of the screen.
Missing by a letter or two will award you with partial credit, and if you have no clue what the answer is, you can listen to an audio recording of the correct translation. Doing this will keep you from earning full credit for your response.
Especially at the beginner level, Word Dive offers some grammar tips and language-use insights.
These tips are handy, but they’re very brief. Instead of any in-depth explanations, I only came across bite-sized tips. I think the best way to take advantage of these would be to take your own notes while studying.
The exercises felt simple and repetitive, but they’re also short enough to keep them from becoming too monotonous. I think this makes sense if Word Dive’s goal is to provide super convenient language practice to people that don’t have the time for regular prolonged study.
On the other hand, the brevity and homogeneity of the activities make a three-month sprint to fluency seem highly unlikely.
The progress animations are another aspect that could keep the learning experience engaging despite the repetitiveness of the activities.
After each practice exercise, you’ll get to see your progress in the course.
Continuing with the maritime theme, your familiarity with language items is represented by different fish.
The baby blue fish symbolizes the lowest level of familiarity. You can see in the image above that I’ve established this level of proficiency with 28 of 105 verb conjugations for this grammar course.
Word Dive awards partial credit for answers that aren’t quite right but are close. Receiving partial credit for a question for the first time will award you a baby blue fish.
The slightly larger red fish represents practice items that you’re more comfortable with. You’ll need to provide more correct answers to catch this one, but partial credit answers can still get you there.
The top prize for Word Divers is the big yellow fish with shades.
To catch these bad boys you’ll need to correctly use a study item more than once over the course of multiple days.
This seems to be part of the AI that Word Dive advertises, facilitating the transfer of study items from working memory to long-term memory, the end-result being these “permanently learned” items.
They also recommend periodic breaks to keep your studying time as efficient as possible.
You can earn stars in a course by reaching a certain number of fish. In the example below, I reached the star threshold in my number of blue fish and I’m on my way to collecting my second star.
Interestingly, all of this animation showing progress (and the fish) only happens on mobile. If you only used the desktop version of this app, you’d never know that there were any fish involved.
Word Dive offers one course to try for free, and it’s worth doing so to see if you like the experience.
For those that want access to more material, the full version of Word Dive is available for a subscription.*
*Tip: Subscription prices vary by location, and using a VPN could potentially save you some money here. The price in USD is the least expensive and offers in Euros or Pounds cost more.
Duolingo is similar to Word Dive in that it’s very much gamified. It’s free, its game-like features are even more developed, and it offers a ton of languages, but the audio is lower quality and it doesn’t provide as much grammar practice.
Another option worth considering is Babbel. It’s got some similar features to Word Dive and a similar price point, but its instruction is significantly more comprehensive.
Babbel offers some in-depth grammar instruction and practice as well as speech-recognition for pronunciation feedback. It also uses an exercise that simulates a conversation, allowing the user to see how the language is used in a natural context.
The extra features and the similar subscription cost could very well make Babbel a better option, but it doesn’t support all of the same languages as Word Dive and some learners may find it less engaging.
One thing none of these apps provide is live practice with a native speaker or pronunciation help. For those looking to fill in these gaps in their language practice, italki is a great option for connecting with a tutor online in almost any language.
For help with pronunciation, Speechling is a great option. You can get feedback on your pronunciation from real native teachers for free. With a paid subscription you can submit an unlimited number of voice recordings.
The resources that we recommend most highly vary by language. For a list of our favorites for the language you’re learning, select it from the table below.
I’ve come away from this with the feeling that Word Dive’s claim of being able to take a user from beginner to fluent in just three months with their app is dubious. If it was credible, the three-month price would be a steal for fluency.
As it is, I’m pretty sure an app that doesn’t provide conversational practice or in-depth grammar instruction just isn’t going to get you speaking fluently. Realistically, you’d probably need to supplement your study with conversation practice and additional listening practice.
That said, I think Word Dive has a place for language learners looking for a convenient way to get efficient practice with vocabulary and some grammar points. The spaced repetition algorithm they use makes your study time effective, and the interface makes progressing through the material fun.
There may be some cheaper options out there, and there are definitely some that are more comprehensive in my opinion. If Word Dive supports the language you want to learn and is engaging enough for you to use it regularly, though, it could be worth the price.
Fortunately, the first course is on them. Give it a try, but maybe temper your expectations.
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