The globalized economy demands cross-cultural communication for promoting cultural exchange, international business trade or political negotiation. Therefore, people nowadays pay more attention on multi-language learning. However, the problem is that there are inadequate qualified bilingual teachers to meet this rapid increasing demand. Having a good command of a certain language requires time commitment and huge amount of money investment as well. Thus a large number of education commercial companies regard language learning as a business opportunity to explore, what’s more, technology has been used in this field to bridge the gap between teachers and students as well as raise more intellectuals. Therefore, entrepreneurs began to combine technology and language learning to create innovative pedagogy. Here is the introduction of three education technology firms which concentrate on language training.
Lingvist just announced that they have received $8 million in the series A financing which led by Rakuten (Japan), Smartcap and Inventure. The incoming investment would be use to recruit new engineer, UI designers, computational linguists and data scientists. Lingvist is an education technology startup which utilize the technology and computer science to reduce language learning cycle and help students learn more effectively and efficiently.
Lingvist announced that they will build use its expertise to create a cutting-edged, tech-driven machine learning database to help students master a kind of language in 200 hours as well as keep track of their studying progress. As an adaptive learning method, Lingvist have three different learning modules: memorization, reading exercises and listening section. They claimed that 200 hours of learning time will enable language learners to understand texts, have causal conversations on everyday topics and understand movies in the target language. The approach that Lingvist used is to analyze the target language on big data resources, then teach words in order of relevance which based on how frequently these words are used in the target language.
51Talk is an oral English training platform which provides one-to-one English speaking courses to its clients. Last year, it received US$55 million of Series C financing led by Sequoia Capital along with DCM and the Shunwei Fund. This is the first time for Sequoia to invest in the field of online education, which can be regarded as an evidence that 51Talk has great potential on English speaking skills training.
51Talk announced that they will not gain profits in the future 3 years, the major funding will be used to improve technical issue, curriculum design and marketing expansion. In the initial stage, 51talk provides professional online English training courses at a cheap price ($8 per hour), and most of teachers are from Philippines. Now it owns more than 2500 Philippine teachers who use English as their native language or second language as well as more than 50,000 paid clients. In addition, since few online education companies pay attention to assessment of learning and teaching, 51Talk now begin to develop new application for clients to monitor and evaluate their study results online.
SnapLingo is a mobile language learning platform which focusing on youth language learning, connecting kids (age 7-12) in United States and China, engaging those kids in real-world Chinese & English daily conversation environment. SnapLingo utilizes online application, iPad, gamification technology, big data analysis to create a cross-culture learning space and allow children to interact with other children from different regions.
SnapLingo concentrates on how to socialize the process of language learning. They match kids in United States and China based on their cognitive level, language level and interests. Then teachers will give the assignments to kids and let these kids to communicate with each other as well as solve problems. In addition, kids will upload their photos and describe what is the story behind these photos both in English and Chinese. SnapLingo want to use this interactive method to help kids understand different language and culture.
Certainly, innovation in digital technology benefit people in second language acquisition.Technology has been seen as a cost-effective way to deliver language instruction. Because of its flexibility, technological language platforms have the great potential to enhance the access and effectiveness of language learning, especially when it combined with adequate teacher training and support. During the process of second language learning, technology can be used to increased to improve reading, writing, oral as well as listening skills. Using technology can enhance interest levels for learners. Internet-based software allows language learners to explore beyond tradition classroom into a real-world learning environment which provides them with more interactive opportunities. Visualized learning process will stipulate learner’s motivation, help them concentrate and learn more effectively. What’s more, although demands of multi-lingual intellectuals have been increasing, most of multilingual institutions are based in big cities. People live in other areas lack access to these kind resources. New technology and apps allow people have opportunities to immerse in the native speaker learning environment which would greatly help them acquire second language naturally.
Warschauer, M., & Meskill, C. (2000). Technology and second language learning. In J. Rosenthal (Ed.), Handbook of undergraduate second language education (pp. 303-318). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.
ACTFL (American Council On the Teaching Foreign Languages) Press Release: Role of technology in language learning http://www.actfl.org/news/position-statements/role-technology-language-learning
The Guardian: Is technology a silver bullet for language teaching and learning? http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/may/12/technology-language-teaching-learning-pedagogy
Voices Magazine: The benefits of new technology in language learning https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/the-benefits-new-technology-language-learning
36Kr media: http://36kr.com/
Technode: English-learning Site 51Talk Pockets Series C Financing Led by Sequoia Capital http://technode.com/2014/10/24/english-learning-site-51talk-pockets-series-c-financing-led-sequoia-capital/