First Look at – RhinoSpike

RhinoSpike – Foreign Language Audio on Demand

This new platform is targeting learners of a foreign language who would like to have customized mp3 with the content they want to listen to. From simple pronunciations for flashcards to short texts.

RhinoSpike is another example of taking a simple idea and building a useful and valuable service around it. As the tagline says learners can demand audio recordings from other users of the platform.

The principle is that everyone contributes to the platform. If you are learning French and demand some recordings for you, those demands will be listed in a queue for French. Now all French speakers of the platform can browse the demands and start recording but if you are also recording files for learners of your own native language your own demand will move up in the queue and therefore your chances to get your demanded file recorded more quickly grow.

RhinoSpike wants to offer customized audio files for learners of a foreign language. As they write on their website, most textbooks come with audio CDs but of course those CDs only cover the topics of the textbook. Searching for audio files or videos on the internet that match your interest and level takes long and maybe there is simply nothing online that fits your personal needs yet.

Hence I think RhinoSpike will be a great addition to services like CoboCards or You could build a set of flashcards with vocabulary you would like to learn, take the text, submit it to RhinoSpike, get the recording, edit the file with Audacity and stick the pronunciation to your flashcards.

And it seems as if RhinoSpike is serving a need. According to a tweet of RhinoSpike on Twitter two days ago the platform already attracted more than 230 members in only 5 days who submitted recordings in more than 10 different languages.

Bottom line: great idea, simple but able to add a big value to the language learning process. The service is free to use but sooner or later there must be some sort of revenue model as audio file streaming and downloading will nibble on the bandwidth especially if the service gets popular. And I think RhinoSpike has the potential for that.

RhinoSpike was co-founded by Peter Carroll and Thomas Hjelm and is based in Bedford, Texas.

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  • Street-Smart Language Learning

    Your post above and my post on RhinoSpike get most of the good points about it, but one thing that’s not apparent in either is that they also move very quickly to make upgrades, which is one thing I love about small, go-getter companies like RhinoSpike. In fact, I already need to update my post because of how quickly they’ve been moving to fix issues and add improvements.

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  • George Machlan

    Thanks again Kirsten, you caught this one very early in it's life cycle. Any better and you will be a prophetess.

  • chinamike

    Love these rule governed sites. So much interesting things going on!

    I wonder how they will deal with (reward) people who record short files vs. those who record long ones.

    Their focus seems to be on people who use spaced repetition programs. This is a small percentage of the total market. I expect these guy will learn a lot. Yeah, web 2.0

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