Language Zen is a new web application with much faster outcomes than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo. It was built on the principle that other programs haven’t even scratched the surface of what computers can do to help teach a new language.
Every member of Language Zen’s team learned new languages independently and we were frustrated by what they experienced with other programs. We spoke with Language Zen’s co-founder and CEO, Micah Greenberg: “The fundamental problem with older programs is that they put every learner on the same static, linear curriculum. But in real life, learners know very different things and learn in very different ways. Past programs treated every user the same and created, boring inefficient courses. We knew we could use computers to do so much more: to act like personal tutors with perfect memories.”
Language Zen builds a personal experience for every user. It incorporates your existing vocabulary and detects the specific words, phrases, and grammatical concepts you’re having trouble with.
Two learners can have vastly different experiences based on their prior knowledge and personal retention patterns. It helps ensure learners are always challenged but never overwhelmed.
To make learning more fun and engaging, Language Zen matches learners to real songs; teaching them the words they don’t already know. This was a personal priority for Micah. “I absolutely loved learning through music but as a beginner, it could be really painstaking to transcribe the lyrics and try to decipher the more poetic lines. This makes it easy. You can learn from conversations or you can learn from Shakira.”
Language Zen teaches you the things you’re most likely to actually hear and use in the real world. Its main course covers the 2000 most commonly spoken words in order of frequency and is a very fast way to get up and running with real conversation.
One of the coolest things about Language Zen is that it lets you learn to speak about the things that are personally important to you. This can range from flirting at the bar to soccer commentary. It’s a great experience to just dive in and learn what you want.
The founders wanted to put Language Zen to the test and actually measure its effectiveness. Within a month of opening, they reached out to the researcher who led third-party efficacy studies for Rosetta Stone and Duolingo to do an apples to apples comparison. Using the same methods, the research team found that language Zen can teach an entire semester of college-level Spanish in 25 hours. This is 2.2X faster than Rosetta Stone and 1.4 times faster than Duolingo. Within three weeks of dedicated use, its learners can actually go out and have real conversations.
So what comes next? According to Micah, “we want more people to try it out and let us know what they think. While we do have a paid version, casual users can always learn for free. We’re building native apps for Android and iOS and are looking to add new languages. Let us know what you’d like to see.”
You can check out Language Zen for free at: Language Zen
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Note: This is a guest post by Ofir Gellar, from Language Zen. We recommend LanguageZen because we use this program ourselves and this program is improving our Spanish language learning.