Drops app: Learn a language during your five-minute break

If you have five minutes to spare, how to best can you use that time? Do you go for another coffee, run, or play a game? You could learn a new language instead
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Since I looked at the Lingvist language app, I have been keen to improve my conversational Spanish.

The Drops app allows me to learn a few more words each day -- and there is a strict five-minute deadline for my learning, so I will not resent a potential time suck. I thought I would try it.

The Drops app encourages people to become more productive by using five spare minutes per day to learning a new language. The app enables you to learn 31 languages, including Moari, Icelandic, Samoan, and Esperanto, as well as more commonly used languages.

There is also a companion app, Scripts, that enables you to learn to write using characters instead of letters, too.

You can download the free version of the app and pay $9.99 monthly, $69.99 annually, or a one-off payment for lifetime use of the app to learn over 2,600 practical words in each language

Drops is  styled as a swipe-based game. A word appears, with its meaning, and an associated image.

Drag and drop the word onto the selected image, or if you already know the word, park it. The words are repeated throughout the five-minute session.

You are encouraged to spell each word by dragging word groups in the correct order onto the grid at the bottom of the screen.

The website also gives you a few common phrases in your chosen language, so you can learn new words while you wait for the five-minute counter to reset.


There is also a travel talk feature, which works without Wi-Fi that enables you to learn relevant phrases when you are in a new country. Language resources also provide additional context about the language.

The software only enables you to use it for five minutes at a time. If you have 20 minutes free, then you will be sitting around after you have used Drops. It will not let you batch up your learning. It focuses on core vocabulary to encourage consistency in use.

I found the time limit annoying. When I get a batch of spare time, I want to put it to good use. I often forgot to log on each day to learn the new vocabulary.

If I knew a word, it still appeared over and over again -- unlike the AI engine in Lingvist, which moved on to new phrases more quickly. I found the graphics slowed down my learning, and some of the graphics could have more than one meaning.

However, it did increase my vocabulary -- even after using the other app, which was impressive in itself. And I still have the app on my phone to browse when I have a few minutes free. I know I will use it tomorrow, and the next day, too.

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