Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Balint Farago, co-founder of a new language learning app called Skeebdo.
Skeebdo is an app created specifically for learners of English, incorporating vocabulary from movies, TV shows and Youtube videos, packaging them in a neat, interactive and educational way.
I’ve just finished trialing the app and I wanted to share my experience doing so. Today, I’ll take you through the following:
👍 The Story behind Skeebdo
👍 Features and User Experience
👍 How the app compares to Duolingo and Memrise
One thing before we get started: If you’re serious about learning to speak English then be sure to check out our list of English Language Resources. We have tested and rated dozens of online English courses and language apps. Tap this link to find out more.
What is Skeebdo?
I summarised Skeebdo in the introduction, but I’ll explain it here in greater detail. Skeebdo is an app which enables users to learn English words through film or TV shows.
Through exercises, flashcards, games and challenges, English learners build their knowledge of English vocabulary in a way that is quick, easy and interactive.
There is plenty of content available to users free of charge, then a subscription fee for premium users.
The story behind Skeebdo
Balint and his co-founders created the app for a simple reason: as non-native English speakers, they often misunderstood the vocabulary they came across in the films and series they were watching. They wanted an automated solution which prevented them from stopping the film and looking up vocabulary.
I’m sure your initial thought here is similar to mine – why not use subtitles? Well, Balint and his team believe that by teaching English in English, learners are far more likely to see success from the app, memorising vocabulary more quickly.
They call the app a form of ‘Edutainment’ – breaking away from the tediousness of learning from textbook-like content, focusing instead on the films and TV shows that the masses know and love.
As mentioned previously, Skeebdo’s software is in English, which means that some knowledge of the English language is needed in order to utilise the app properly.
That said, English learners are provided with the opportunity to enter their level of English after downloading the app, in order to be matched to the most suitable vocabulary. This starts with complete beginner, through to upper intermediate.
Even though anybody can download the app, Skeebdo is not for complete beginners. After all, anybody using film as a way to improve their foreign language skills will most likely have at least a basic understanding of the language already.
The Skeebdo founders believe that no matter how skilled you become, the learning doesn’t stop. Even if you speak English like a native speaker, your vocabulary can always be enriched.
The Skeebdo User Experience
👍 The user experience is on Skeebdo is positive. The app is user-friendly, engaging and interactive. These characteristics remind me of language learning apps such as Memrise and Duolingo, two of the leaders in the language app field.
👍 Even though all users have the same experience, the app feels personalised as the dashboard is tailored to individuals. Learners can save words, learn new words and keep a record of the words they’ve mastered.
I’ve touched on a few of the Skeebdo features I like most under user experience, but I’ll go in slightly greater depth here.
⭐ Plenty of variety
The first thing I want to mention here is the sheer volume of content available. The app has access to over 200,000 titles, amounting to over 40,000 unique words, idioms and expressions.
This variety means that there should be something for everyone, from Forest Gump and Harry Potter, to Pulp Fiction, the Lion King and Skyfall.
Note: Skeebdo doesn’t play movie clips. Instead, it collates popular vocabulary from the titles and lists them for users to learn.
The Skeebdo dictionary serves the purpose you’d expect. It provides a list of words from the film, TV show or youtube video you’ve chosen, with corresponding definitions.
This was the first indicator to me that Skeebdo teaches more than just individual words. By learning English words through advanced English definitions, learners are exposed to the language and a wider range of its vocabulary.
⭐ Practice, Challenge & Library
Skeebdo users can practice their knowledge of learned vocabulary in the Practice section. There is also a Challenge section to put this knowledge to practice and master key words.
Importantly, users can store their preferred content in their own My Library section, which prevents having to trawl back through the main search area.
⭐ Word Bank
The Skeebdo dashboard provides a mountain word bank which enables users to complete individual milestones. This starts from 5 words, taking you through to 1,000 words.
This is one of several features which makes the app addictive, enticing English learners to continue their progress on a daily basis.
Did my experience using Skeebdo blow me away? Not necessarily.
However, this is probably due to the fact that I have tested literally hundreds of language learning apps.
I think Skeebdo’s founders have identified a gap in the market here by focusing on the film niche. After all, how many of us watch movies, TV programmes or Youtube videos to improve our foreign language skills? I certainly do. Thanks to Netflix and similar streaming services, most people spend an average of 1-2 hours daily watching movies and TV shows
In my opinion, Skeebdo is both similar to and different from its market-leading competitors in different ways. It adopts a learning style .
Both Memrise and Duolingo comprise features which keep the user coming back. Users can set daily goals, for example. Skeebdo shares this feature and rewards users, depending on the number of new words they’ve learned on any given day.
However, whilst there are definite similarities between Skeebdo and these other language learning apps, Skeebdo is not a replication of them. As mentioned, Balint and his team have found a gap in the market with the film niche, touching on a pain point suffered by language learners in the process.
My final thoughts on Skeebdo
There are plenty of English language learning apps out there, many of which I have trialed and tested.
Skeebdo certainly shares similarities with many of them. Spaced repetition, for example, is a learning method which is proven to be effective. It is also employed by most language apps now.
Like competitor apps, Skeebdo provides users with a personalised experience. It tailors the content to the level of the learner, enabling them to track personal progress.
Despite these similarities, the use of film makes Skeebdo unique. Particularly, in terms of the content it harnesses to teach English. For this reason, Balint and his team have certainly come up with something innovative here, tapping into a niche with which we can all identify.