Over the past week we’ve released new series of News Time Spanish, Coffee Break French and four new courses in our One Minute Languages series: Spanish, Spanish for Latin America, Swedish and Ukrainian. In addition to the free audio lessons, we provide lesson guides featuring the words and phrases included in each lesson and additional vocabulary, grammar or exercises.
The release of Apple’s free iBooks app for the iPad earlier this year was a very interesting development for us and we’ve been working on producing iBooks-compatible versions of our lesson guides for our new courses.
iBooks allows iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad users to view ePub documents on their devices: the commercial books available in the iBookstore are in this format. ePub allows the user to enlarge and reduce the size of the text, change font, etc. The iBooks app also allows users to view pdf files, so all of our existing lesson guides can already be used on the device. However, we wanted to make the most of the possibilities of the ePub format, so we’ve decided to produce an ePub version of our new courses. We will, of course, continue to offer the materials in pdf format, but the initial feedback on the ePub format is very positive. In addition to viewing the lesson guides for our courses, iBooks users can highlight certain words, and make notes on the content.
Some of the ePub versions of our lesson guides include audio and/or video clips, linked to the content, and in the case of the One Minute Languages courses, the entire video versions of the lessons can be played right from the pages of the ebook. By tapping on the video, it plays full-screen – and we think it looks great! We hope to develop this further and are planning to begin the process of converting our back catalogue to this format soon.
Of course, we’re very aware that not everyone has access to an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, and we will be continuing to provide our courses in formats which suit most computers and mobile devices. However, we’re very excited about the possibilities offered by emerging devices and we know that many of our existing listeners do have access to iBooks, so it’s only right that we investigate the possibilities!
Let us know what you think, especially if you’re one of our members and you’re already using the ePub version of our new courses. We’re also very interested to hear how well the ePub versions are working on other ebook readers, eg. Kindles, Sony Readers, etc. And if you’d like to try out the new enhanced ebooks on your own device, feel free to try your hand at learning some Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Swedish or Ukrainian with our One Minute Languages courses.