The last few years have seen many changes in the way technology plays a role in language learning, but this trend looks set to go to a new level. A Spanish language app company, uSpeak, has recently received 500,000 Euros in investment cash to develop and market new apps which take a unique approach to language learning. The apps take a much more advanced approach to learning than a typical audio series or course book, which follows a set progression of new grammar and vocabulary. With the uSpeak apps, the application actually personalizes the learning experience and adapts the course of learning based on what the user had already learned. This allows learners to build their knowledge of the language in a more natural, flowing and organic way. At the moment the app can be used by Spanish speakers to learn English, and by English speakers to learn Spanish.
The app also tries to make learning the language a more enjoyable experience by formatting lessons as games. By compacting lessons into short, fun to play games, it encourages learners to keep adding small pieces to their language skill level even when they’re pressed for time or not in the mood for any strenuous thinking.
At the moment, the applications are designed only for devices running iOS. It is unclear yet whether a Windows version will be developed in the near future, but if the results from this initial round of funding prove to provide a good return for investors then more money for developing apps in other languages and for other operating systems is likely to be forthcoming.
The fact that many users will make use of the apps on their smartphones is indicative of how technology is changing the way we learn new languages. A process which was once confined to a rigid classroom structure can now be taken up with a few minutes to spare, at any location. The smartphone has become not only a communication device but a mobile classroom for language learning which can be taken literally anywhere.