Why we need to change Digital Language Learning

Duolingo is not yet the end of the story — it is time to take language learning one step further

Digital Language Learning has brought massive changes in the way people learn new languages. The growth in this area is still remarkable. As more people go online in the emerging economies, we can expect this trend to remain in the next decade.

In the past years Duolingo has managed to build an excellent product. A product that is today the indisputable leader in the market. Duolingo convinces with a good user interface and a clean design.

Duolingo’s contribution to society is invaluable. It helps people in emerging countries to acquire the necessary English skills to overcome the low quality in their education systems. As soon as people are able to understand English a new world with endless opportunities opens up for them. All of a sudden, the best university classes are available for free on Coursera and you get access to word class mentors on TED.

The possibilities to learn a language on your own have dramatically improved in the past decade thanks to Duolingo and its fellow language learning apps.

But given where we are today, we need to ask if there is still room to improve Digital Language Learning? We at Linguician are convinced that the answer to this question is and will remain “Yes”. We believe that the language learning experience for the user in ten years from now will be entirely different but certainly much more rewarding than today.

Providing free access to language learning is not yet the end of the story — the next challenge will be to design the learning process in a way that it starts feeling like quality time. Entertainment and Gamification are the key words to reach this goal.

But what is the right way to get there? From where we are now you need to start changing the material that we use for learning languages. Think about the odd sentences that Duolingo presents to its users and imagine that you would exchange them through music and lyric! How does that feel?

Now hold on for a second — you might ask yourself why would you use music? To answer this question ask yourself another question: When you think of music, what comes to your mind? We listen to music when we go out with friends at night, when we dance or when play with each other. Or maybe some of us take it one step further and engage actively with music by playing an instrument or singing a song in a Karaoke bar.

At this point you quickly realize that music is always related to the entertaining and fun things of life and to the free and quality time you spend.

But why would music actually work for language acquisition? Think of this: How many lyrics of random songs do you have in your mind? Right, loads of them — just turn on your Streaming Service of choice and listen to some music — you will feel that you are already familiar with the lyrics of your favourite songs although you never ever tried to memorize them. And this is also what scientists have discovered: people are more likely to remember vocabularies when they are learning with music.

This is the power of music: context and association. Integrating lyrics in the language acquisition process enables people to unlock the associative power of music for learning new vocabularies.

When Duolingo came into the picture a big change happened: nothing less than the democratization of language learning. But there is one big problem: Duolingo still feels a lot like work. You need to put in the effort to get the results you want.

That wasn’t an issue in the mindset of the past century. But today we live in the 21st century and priorities have changed. Today we have the ambition to craft tools that let the learning process feel entirely like a game. Hardships and suffering should become things of the past and the entire life should start feeling like a game.

Now we are still far away from this reality where everything just feels like a game. But bear in mind that the first wheel that humanity has invented was not yet the Pirelli tyre that won the Formula One. Progress often happens gradually and things need time before reaching perfection.

At Linguician, we firmly believe that music can dramatically increase the pleasure in the learning process. No matter what we will be studying in the future: digital education companies must have the ambition to design the learning process as quality time.

So how does Linguician actually work? At the core of Linguician is the interaction with a song and the lyrics. Different play modes let you learn new vocabularies and test your language skills in a playful way. Let’s say you are learning Spanish. Learning new vocabularies will come along with listening to your favourite Spanish songs by Juanes, Shakira or Enrique Iglesias.

In addition, Linguician uses state of the art technology by providing an intelligent learning system. The system adjusts the vocabularies to the individual level of the user. The more people use Linguician the better it will get at determining the correct language level.

Does that sound exciting? Linguician Beta will launch next month on Product Hunt. But if you can’t wait for the excitement join our closed beta now and shape the future of digital language learning with your valuable feedback to yourfriends(a)linguician.com

Keywords: Digital Language Learning | Duolingo | Gamification | Music Streaming | Linguician