iPhone English: The New York Times

In our ongoing series on using your iPhone to learn English, this week we're looking at The New York Times Learning English iPhone app. The New York Times is one of the most famous and popular daily newspapers in the world, and their app is designed to help you to improve your vocabulary and reading.

Now I won’t lie to you, I do consider myself to be a bit of a New York-phile (is that even a word?!), and The New York Times is such an iconic newspaper that I was really looking forward to trying out the app.

Let’s start with the cost.  For £1.99 you get a 12 lesson pack, with further lessons available for an extra cost.  Each lesson is based around a famous or historical story from previous editions of the New York Times, a screenshot of which you can see in the picture. There’s an eclectic mix of topics ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to the arrival of David Beckham in the USA and the death of Michael Jackson.

Each lesson has an article reading task with comprehension questions, three vocabulary review tasks and a Word Bank Dictionary.  This is probably the best part, as each word has an audio playback and translations in six major languages.  For each word, you are asked if you know the word – yes, no maybe – and each piece of vocabulary is then placed into a category, much like our Legal English Word Mine.  It’s a clever way of organizing vocabulary into groups that you know and those that you don’t.

Further lesson packs are available for £1.99, and these are themed under World News, Business and Technology, Science and Medicine, and Entertainment and Sports.

So what is my verdict?  Although the app isn’t exactly ground-breaking, it is thorough.  The price is just about right, though it would benefit from having some more up-to-date stories.  If you have an interest in journalism or world history, you might want to check it out.

By Andy


New York-phile - (n.) someone who loves New York.  Commonly spoken, but not often written.

iconic - (adj.) immediately recognizable

eclectic - (adj.) selecting or choosing from various sources

verdict - (n.) conclusion, judgement, opinion

groundbreaking - (adj.) original

thorough - (adj.) very detailed

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