Tag Archives: language learning

Kirsten Winkler Language & Business Forum 2013

Why Language Learning is looked down upon – or is it?

As some of you might already know, I was invited to give short presentation and act as “agent provocateur” at the Languages and Business Forum 2013 in Berlin two weeks ago. I spoke of trends I see happening at the intersection of technology and learning that make an impact on how we learn languages these days and in the near(er) future.

During a chat around the event the discussion came to the point as to why language learning as a business, so both more established companies and startups alike as well as individual tutors, seem to be faced with more problems around making money off of their teaching/service than service providers in other verticals of the learning market tend to experience.

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Language Exchange Relationships are Complicated

Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of hosting TWiST Paris, our meetup that enables French start-up companies to pitch a local audience in English and then get the opportunity to present their business to US entrepreneur and investor Jason Calacanis live via Skype.

During  a short break, actually right before our live call with the States I had the chance for a quick chat with an attendee. He asked me why language exchange platforms apparently don’t seem to take off.  As I feel that my answer fell short and has probably left him with many open questions, this blog might be a good place to give him and some other readers asking yourselves the same set of questions an answer.

Honestly, I was distracted due to TWiST and how to “trick” Jason Calacanis to allow all six companies to present. So, apologies for that.

On my way back to Brittany the next day, I had some time to think about the question and if I’m not completely mistaken, the person who asked me was Will Hatfield who founded AngloBuddy.fr.

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How to succeed with Niche Products in Language Learning

Sometimes I make a real finding on YouTube. Of course, Google knows me well and when I listen to some music or watch a webcast over there, I mostly get Inigral’s Schools App or Learnable as advertisement. This time was different however.

So, when I was listening to Mozart’s Requiem what I like when I do some writing, I saw an ad for eTeacherBiblical. My first reaction to be honest was a mix between scepticism, fascination and also awkwardness.

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R:ED April 17th to April 23rd 2011

Square’s Disruptive Payment Service About To Get A Huge Retail Boost From Apple – “Mobile payments company Square has landed a big coup—sales placement on Apple’s online store. […] Apple will start selling Square devices in all of its U.S. retail stores starting this week.” TechCrunch

Touchscreens For All? – “New technology could make smartphones the norm in the developing world, and might have a host of other applications yet to be imagined.” Fast Company

Babel or babble? – “Languages all have their roots in the same part of the world. But they are not as similar to each other as was once thought.” The Economist

What The Telephone’s Unbeatable Functionality Teaches Us About Innovation – “Single-mindedness is a virtue, both in products and in people.” Fast Co Design

MIT Creates The One Video Game You’ll Be Thrilled To See Your Kid Get Hooked On – “Over many years, after conducting many surveys, the NSF made an intriguing conclusion: A good deal of the public’s understanding of science derives from outside of the classroom.” Fast Company

Social Media Abstinence Education Is Not Working For Pre-Teens – “Banning kids from Facebook isn’t realistic. Is education the answer?” Fast Company

Page Sharing Service Bo.lt Lets You Copy, Edit And Share Almost Any Webpage – “Like a “Bit.ly on steroids,” the service lets you paste any URL into its copy engine or bookmarklet, creating a duplicate of the page on its servers.” TechCrunch

Weebly Launches Support For Multiple Editor Accounts – “[…] you’ll now be able to let other users edit your website (or portions of it), without handing over your main Weebly account credentials.” TechCrunch

Amazon Partnering With OverDrive To Bring Kindle Library Lending To 11,000 Libraries Across The US – “The company’s latest venture brings the power of the Kindle to public and educational libraries through a partnership with OverDrive.” CrunchGear

Google To Offer Chrome Notebook Subscriptions [REPORT] – “Google will be offering Chrome OS-based notebooks this summer on a subscription basis, charging between $10 and $20 per month per user.” Mashable

R:ED March 13th to March 19th 2011

  1. Ask a VC: Mike Maples Defends Digg’s Honor and the Kno (TCTV) – Some interesting insights on the Kno technology at the end of this interview.
  2. What Starbucks Taught Us About Redesigning College Campuses – What can we learn from Starbucks changing the way people drink coffee today and can it be applied to higher education?
  3. Communication: Students appreciate polyglot approach – How business students learn multiple languages to boost their chances of getting hired or to choose better jobs in foreign countries.
  4. Could an Apple Magazine Template in iOS Change the Industry? – Will a template for iPad magazines help publishers help to build better experiences and therefore increase sales?
  5. The Future of Reading Online Is Customization & Sharing, Not Tablets (Yet) – Interview on the future of reading on the web with Khoi Vinh, former design director for NYTimes.com at SXSW.
  6. 2tor Raises $32.5 Million Series C To Make Online Education Great – “One reason online education isn’t that good is I don’t think it is trying to be that good.” John Katzman, CEO 2tor
  7. What’s the point of learning a foreign language? – Interesting data on foreign language acquisition.
  8. Goodbye Wheelie Backpacks: Digital Textbooks Will Dominate Over Paper Ones Soon – The U.S. the education publishing market has is reaching a tipping point: Within seven years, digital textbooks will dominate over print.
  9. The 10 Most Innovative Companies in Education – from FastCompany
  10. Mint Founder Invests in Semantic Text Startup – TopicMarks extracts the most important information from any text which can help students to learn faster.
  11. College Students Aim to Build a Better Way to Manage Courses – Coursekit is a Facebook-like Learning Management System.
  12. Now Coming to Market: Sifteo Cubes Reinvent How We Play – Amazing technology, mix of building blocks meet the iPhone.

Big Think: Future Tourists Travel with Personal Interpreters and Translating Shades

In my first article on Big Think, I wrote about the possibilities young language learners are offered by the community model a couple of start-ups are building their business on. Learning a language is a great experience in itself but most of us won’t be able to learn one or two other languages besides their native in their lifetime. Even with technology getting better and better and helping us to learn it effectively, it will still take a considerable amount of time, something you might not want to invest for a two week holiday in China, India or the Netherlands.

Generations had this funny feeling of incertitude when travelling to a country they did not speak the language of. That already changed because “everyone speak English” these days. For native English speakers this is of course a big advantage, for the rest of the world it became a commodity to learn it as second language. But still there are and will be places where this does not work. The solution to that might be in our pocket.

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Smart.fm re-rebrands itself to iKnow! and turns into a Premium Service

Visiting the Smart.fm website you will notice that the service is announcing its migration to a new (old) site called iKnow!. Smart.fm will shut down on March 31st and does not take new registrations for that matter.

I have always been a big fan of the service although I never actively used it. And that seems to be one of the problems Smart.fm had, leading to the decision to turn the platform into a premium language learning service.

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Language is Meat – Serve it as you like

A quick Sunday afternoon post. A couple of weeks ago Michel Nizon  wrote in the comments that

You can’t sell learning like burgers or at your own risk…

And today, on Facebook, Arkady Zilberman disagreed with my generalization that “any (learning) method is perfect”. So, let me give you some quick thoughts on this.

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Review Panel Discussion Language Learning & Web 2.0

Due to two recent business trips, the first to pretty Luxembourg, the latter to swinging London, this blog remained a little silent in the past couple of days, at least more silent than you are used to.

So with the new week just started, let me give you a roundup of why I was traveling and what has happened in both the educational as well as the business sense.

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TechCrunch Disrupt:ed – Voxy

The next startup in our TechCrunch Disrupt coverage of online education related companies is Voxy. And this time it is actually an online education startup.

Voxy’s slogan is “Learn a language from Life” and they are also defining themselves as an edutainment company, similar to English Attack! as the content is based on entertainment, news and other pieces from “the real life”.

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Language Learning and Social Media – 6 Key Dialogues


First Look at – YongoPal

YongoPal – Make Money by Making a Difference!

Sounds great, right? But what exactly is YongoPal? Apparently the site offers a service that connects Korean university students with native English speakers who will get paid for having a chat in English with the students.

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In the Spotlight: busuu.com The Language Learning Community


Website: www.busuu.com
Online since: May 2008
Offer: Language Learning Platform with Community. Free and Paid Premium Services.

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