The story behind Pablo

>> Read it in French

Gabriel Morin
Teach Pablo
Published in
5 min readMar 29, 2016


Learning a new language is truly exciting. It often feels like a new super-power you can use in the funniest situations. Some learn Spanish dreaming of spending a year in South-America. Some use it to surprise the waiter at a Chinese restaurant by ordering in Mandarin. Nearly all of us non-native English-speakers learn English through TV-shows. And some, like me, are already in a foreign country, and feel it would be too bad to miss out on the opportunity of learning this new language.

A collection of words and expressions

A short bit after moving from France to Romania, I was lucky enough to get the nicest landlord. Speaking a perfect French, she quickly became my Romanian grandma. And like any caring grandma, she bought me a little notepad to write the latest words I learned, in order to practice them at the end of the week.

She had aimed right: every time someone teaches me a new word or expression I get very excited… But then worried I will forget it by the time I’ll go to bed. It’s like making a collection. The rarest or funnier it is, the more I like it. I always think about the face of the next person I’ll tell it to.

“Struţocămilă, literally means “an ostrich-camel”, or when you make one thing out of mixing two. Here’s a struţocămilă example: chable, a table that’s also a chair”

As nice as it was for my landlord to give me a notepad, after filling up one page of vocabulary, I simply gave up on it. I just can’t think about carrying it everywhere with me. I then started using all kinds of lists, from Trello to Google Keep, adding some words between a to-do-list and the groceries. It was a mess.

I decided to build for myself the simplest phone app to fit my need. A one-screen list of words and expressions. Something fast to input a new word and its translation, access it from time to time to practice some vocabulary or search for a forgotten word. A simple side-project.

Life with Pablo

Every time someone taught me a bit more Romanian, I would save it in the app. Each and every person would get curious first, then surprisingly very excited about the app. Well, I know most of them would not really pay for something so basic, but there was definitely something to dig here. Let’s make a nice design, finish the Android version, build it for iPhones as well and quickly release it for free.

❤ Pablo ❤

Teach Pablo

And this is how Pablo was born, our little Pablito. What’s better than a Parrot to be taught new words? Every time you learn something new, just teach it to Pablo. He will never forget it, and make sure you are never going to forget it either. Here’s how it works so far:

  • Write something in the language you’re learning.
  • Write the translation in your own language. That’s it!

Pablo teaches you

  • To practice, read your list and try to guess the meaning of each word. The latest ones are on top.
  • If you’re not sure, slide it to the right to have a sneak peak at the translation.
  • To reverse the list and see your native language first, shake your phone.

Can Pablo speak?

If you teach him he surely can repeat. Some languages make it hard to guess the pronunciation from the writing, and that’s why you can record in a tap any word you’re saving.

Social Pablo

Learning a new language with a classmate, a local met on the way, or a very dear friend is much more efficient than doing it on your own. Well, you’d be glad to know that you can share your Pablo with them!

Create a list to share an expression freshly discovered, or request a translation (when you don’t trust google translate’s accuracy). Your friend being notified, you can have your translations in a few seconds…

Get the app

Ready to adopt your own Pablo? Just click on the button below, and don’t forget to get a Pablo for your friends as well: share them this article!

Pablo is a phone app for Android and iOS to help you keep track of your favorite vocabulary when learning a new language.
> Follow Pablo on Facebook

Special Thanks to Martha for the notepad, Vlad Stoica for the logo, Andrei Stoica for the support, Jeremy de France for the mentorship, Anton Stoychev, Madalina Martin and many others for already promoting Pablo everywhere they go :-).



Gabriel Morin
Teach Pablo

Optimiste acharné. French developer based in Bucharest