Where have you been!? What is Lingt classroom?

August 5th, 2009 by Justin

Though our blog has been a bit barren, Lingt’s new offices in San Francisco have been anything but. We’ve spent the summer working on exciting new language-learning technology that we’re very excited to roll out in the very near future. Which brings us to that new “classroom” label that recently appeared. . .

We love our logo and brand – so much so that we wanted to use it for the new stuff we’re working on. To avoid confusion, we’re going to start referring to this site as “Lingt classroom” – since our users are exclusively teachers (all whom we love for using Lingt). This site will now be at lingtclassroom.com, but lingtlanguage.com will continue to redirect here.

We’ll let you know what we’ve been working on very soon. We think you’ll all be very excited to see what we’ve got cooking.

Upload your mp3s to Lingt!

July 12th, 2009 by Justin

One of the most requested features from teachers has been to allow uploading of mp3 sound files to create Lingt assignments. Well, you’re the boss.

You can now double click a record bubble to reveal a new box that allows you to browse and upload mp3s. Enjoy!

Lingt reviewed by NCLRC

May 27th, 2009 by Justin

Our thanks to Thomas Braslavsky at the National Capital Language Resource Center for the great review of the Lingt Editor. We couldn’t have described our own software and mission better ourselves. Check it out!

http://nclrc.org/teachers_corner/tech_for_teachers/feature.html

Lingt in the Boston Phoenix

May 22nd, 2009 by Justin

A cool article about Lingt in the Boston Phoenix. Check it out here!

Meeting MaFLA

May 3rd, 2009 by Justin

We had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to present to the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association yesterday. It was such a pleasure to get such thoughtful feedback from the people on the other end of our technology.

The response was resoundlingly positive and we can’t wait to work with them to get Lingt in more classrooms. We definitely look forward to seeing MaFLA again at their conference in October.

We met one extremely helpful and dedicated teacher named Joshua Cabral. He’s already blogged on our visit – check it out!

IB and AP Preparation

April 11th, 2009 by Justin

As the semester winds down, high school seniors around the world are dreading the fast-approaching IB and AP exams. If they’re like us (IB and AP students ourselves), the oral component of the language exams is amongst the most intimidating beasts.

My IB French teacher was great: very committed to making sure we learned French and enthusiastic enough to incorporate interesting classroom activites and homework. However, when it came to oral exam time, I couldn’t shake my anxiety. I felt so unprepared. Despite the in-class speaking drills, I was terrified of that spinning tape recorder. Just imagine how hopeless I would be if actually dropped in France.

I wish I had Lingt when I was preparing for the IB exam. My only real preparation was an after-school practice-run with my teacher a couple weeks before – which was itself a terrific effort on her part given the time and resources required to do this for the entire class. Lingt would have allowed me to practice responding to oral prompts as part of my homework – no need to take time after-school or in class. The built-in feedback mechanism would have let me re-listen to my original speech alongside my teacher’s feedback. It would have saved my teacher tons of time and effort – and from my perspective as a student, I would have much preferred online speaking assignments over another journaling or  fill-in-the-blank exercise.

We think Lingt should be incorporated in a classroom’s normal homework regimen, but it does seem uniquely perfect for preparing students for the oral component of the IB and AP exams. Get in touch if you’re an IB Language teacher and are interested in incorporate Lingt for free today.

Better, faster Lingt

April 2nd, 2009 by Justin

Over the last few weeks, we’ve put a lot of effort into giving Lingt a behind-the-scenes upgrade. For you, this means:

  • Faster page loads.
  • Less bugs and better compatibility with Internet Explorer. Lingt should be mostly stable for everyone (except IE6 users).
  • A more detailed help section.
  • A video tutorial to get you started making assignments.
  • More shared assignments.

As the semester’s end approaches, we are looking forward to the summer to spend time building out signficant new features and evangelizing the utility of Lingt as an opportunity to incorporate speaking into classrooms in an unprecedented way. Get in touch if you’d like to work with us this summer to test and give feedback on the exciting new technology we build!

Oh, this is old, but you can a cool mention of Lingt on Fox Business News here: http://www.foxbusiness.com/video-search/m/21910337/power-rankings-great-college-businesses.htm#q=rod+kurtz.

Language learning: where it came from and where it’s going

March 26th, 2009 by Justin

Language learning during the 19th century was marked by an intent focus on the benefits of the simple intellectual challenge. Latin was a popular subject for study not for any practical value, but because the prevailing thought was that internalizing a library of irregular conjugations and sentence patterns was the ultimate brain teaser. From this, academics began formulating formal approaches to language learning stressing grammar patterns and rote memorization. Reading and writing proficiency were the goal.

The 20th century saw a pragmatic shift towards speaking. New approaches and methodologies championed the ability to speak and communicate with the language, rather than just construct it from a series of rules. This way of thinking has become ingrained, and for obvious reasons. Now, we are all one business trip, one Skype call, one affordable flight away from needing our language skills to prevail at communication immediately. Burlitz, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone rode this wave of innovation and have contributed to today’s unwavering demand that effective speaking be the deliverable of any language school or product.

Most recently, the conversation has turned to interaction. Not obvious at first glance, interaction and speaking are fundamentally different conceptions of the learning process. The final product – communicative fluency – may be the same, but since we all expect to be able to use our language skills in some capacity short of perfection, the journey is more import than the destination. As an extreme image, consider learning immaculate pronunciation and sentence-construction by listening to a tape recording and repeating to a brick wall. Compare this to the philosophy underpinning interaction: sitting in a room with a native speaker who doesn’t know your language either, pointing at objects, and wrestling to teach each other simple nouns. According to the interaction school of thought, speaking is just an artifact of real communication; real value derives from the mutual struggle to meet in the middle and working to grow an intersection (comprising words, sentences, facial expressions, gestures, whatever) where communication can occur. This way of thinking has led to some language products that market their methodologies as helping you learn as you did when you were a small child.

I think the evolution in thinking about language learning over the last two centuries has been for great benefit. Learning Latin to read the classics and bend your brain is great, but our increasingly interconnected world demands a pragmatic approach that gets people talking to each other as quickly and easily as possible. I do think, however, that this line of thinking can be overdrawn. Thinking that language learning as a teen or adult should replicate the processes by which we learned as a child, for example, sounds nice but is an oversimplification. Another example is a branch of thought that holds that the primary language should never be used in teaching the secondary language: in some cases, though, comparing grammar and vocabulary can be extremely informative and natural. Not to mention that different individual learning styles may actually be served better with a less bleeding-edge interactive approach.

Two weeks of Beta

March 20th, 2009 by Justin

We sent out our first official beta accounts about two weeks ago and have since then seen over a hundred teachers use Lingt. We couldn’t be happier with the reception – the enthusiasm and willingness to engage new technology has been very exciting from our end. Feedback has been great as well: we’ve already incorporated many of the suggestions that have come in  and are making sense of many other to determine what the next big step for us will be.  We’re also thrilled to see what teachers are coming up with: just after two weeks, we’ve got teachers using Lingt in countries all over the world and making assignments in English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Korean, Chinese, German, and Japanese. We can’t wait to see the number of classrooms benefiting from technology continue to grow.

Our kind of VC

March 10th, 2009 by Justin

Fred Wilson, a VC in New York, recently wrote a synopsis of an education technology brainstorm hosted by his investment firm. The thinking there seems to be very much in line with our own vision. I look forward to seeing the fruition of many of these ideas – in new ventures and new policy – as well as the education companies Union Square Ventures chooses to back in the future.

Check out the article here.