On February 14, English language learning apps featuring Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes took the top slots on Japan’s App Store in the education segment. Since then, they have also taken the #1 spot overall for both iPad and iPhone categories.
These apps, based on 30 stories from the Oxford Bookworms graded reader series, help learners improve their English. Classics Phantom of the Opera, The Wizard of Oz, The Jungle Book, Pride and Prejudice and Gulliver’s Travels are among the selected titles. Using the apps, learners can read and listen to the story, view full-color illustrations and test vocabulary using interactive quizzes. Narrated by native-speaking actors, the apps allow learners to bookmark their progress, check meaning of highlighted words and scroll the glossary to check for words.
Available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the apps were developed by Tokyo-based software developer iEnglish (a division of language-learning company eigoTown.com) and Oxford University Press (OUP). The collaboration is aimed at fulfilling learners’ educational needs and their desire to use current technologies.
In Japan, the localized apps go for 600 yen (or $7.55) each but four titles—Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Aladdin and Anne of Green Gables—were specially marked down to 85 yen ($1.00) for Valentine’s Day. “We set out to play cupid to bring English and Japan together on this romantic day. And we now know this much is true: Japan loves English,” said Russell Willis, president of iEnglish and founder of eigoTown.com. “With an iEnglish-developed app being bought every 30 seconds in Japan right now and its current chart domination, it looks like the love for English classics runs deep among Japanese.”
For Sorrell Pitts, editorial manager of OUP’s graded readers, the apps “bring together the quality of our Bookworms series with iEnglish’s expertise in developing materials for mobile devices. Together, we have exploited the opportunity an app presents to give learners of English full and easy access to reading and listening to great stories, and learning whenever they want.” (OUP is the first English Language Teaching publisher to offer graded reader apps.)