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Language Learning Programs are Getting Smarter


For the past few decades, learning a language has become infinitely easier with the use of technology. Access to the internet, instructional videos, foreign films, and computer programs have taken textbook knowledge and made it interactive and engaging. Classic software developers like Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo are still leaders in providing digital tools for learning a language, using instructional techniques that provide chances for fluency without regularly speaking to people in the desired language. More and more options are available to meet the needs of all learners, of every age, and skill level, both in the classroom and at home.

Early Childhood and Classroom Use

Learning a language in early childhood is a good way to ensure that the language sticks. Some of the benefits of learning a language in early childhood include boosting empathy, cross-cultural understanding, and creative thinking skills. Some applications and programs are making early language learning an easier possibility, regardless of what kind of language programs exist in schools.

Traditional tutoring oriented services have made some innovative changes. PandaTree is an interactive, foreign language learning program designed to keep children engaged and learning. It is a platform for native speaking tutors and learners to work one-on-one online, through videos and chat. In addition to the help of a one on one tutor, children can play with the interactive games and activities at the same time, boosting the learning process. This combination of a live tutor with interactive games provide context and engagement that the youngest learners need.

Foreign language teachers in schools have many tools to use in the classroom including Google Translate, which is the simplest way to integrate class topics by using whatever phrases you wish to translate in the interface. FluentU utilizes real-world videos of things like commercials, news, or even music videos and cartoons, and incorporates them in their language immersion experiences. it uses a holistic approach that guides students along the process of learning a language.

Learning a Language In Adulthood

Practicing a language keeps it fresh in your mind throughout adulthood. As with many domains, if you don’t use it, you may lose it. Some of the benefits of maintaining another language domain includes improved career prospects (knowing a second language is a valuable asset), and helps maintain sharp cognitive functioning throughout your lifetime.

A new language learning platform, Glossika, is the first online program to use artificial intelligence to hasten the learning process, and improve fluency, by using patterns instead of simply prompting users to memorize the words and rules of grammar. Including 47 languages, several of them with obscure dialects, the structure of sentence patterns and learner feedback are what ultimately optimizes and simplifies the learning process, without memorization or grammar.

Glossika focuses on a “spaced repetition” strategy that helps people become fluent and gain an understanding of the new language, regardless of their vocabulary range. Depending on the learner's feedback, the learning process focuses on repetition of phrase patterns, which demonstrate the relationships between words. Learners can choose the topics to be discussed during each session such as travel, business or hobbies, keeping them motivated. The company claims to have beginning learner customers who have become fluent in a matter of months, by spending 20 minutes per day with the system.

Other programs that utilize artificial intelligence in their platforms include Duolingo Bots, which simulates real life conversations, providing a context for learning, and Kwiziq, an “AI Language Coach” for post-beginners. As artificial intelligence becomes more ubiquitous and accessible, it has the potential to revolutionize language learning both at home and in the classroom.

Written by Melissa Pelletier, Education Technology Contributor