The Israeli startup makes language learning fun and easy by making it a game that requires you to understand and interact with the characters, just like in the real world.
Learning a new language is often a new years resolution, but one that tends to be abandoned because learning is difficult and complicated, especially if we decide to do it ourselves. Israeli start-up company Immersia decided to make the learning process enjoyable, through a specific technique: making it a game.
Getting into character
Imagine the following situation: You’ve come to a foreign country and your stomach starts to croak. Sorry for your loss, you are not proficient in the local language, but still you enter one of the cafes or restaurants and try to order something that will satisfy you. It is likely that over time, you will learn the basics, such excuse me, please, pay or even bathroom alongside phrases a bit more complicated such as “check please” or “Waiter, we did not get our water and we are thirsty” as part of the trip, even if you forget when you leave the country.
The platform developed by Immersia simulates the situation in question, but the environment is much less stressful or frightening: in front of your personal computer. It does so through the game, during which you will have to help the character named Peter communicate with different people sitting in a pub, go in and figure out exactly how he can impress his favorite girl at the bar.
Unlike the games and applications on the market today that present you the different words and you tell them to move forward when you improve, here there is an element of “surprise” just like in the real world, requiring you to run a little imagination and try to understand what exactly you are trying to say. That is, when the characters talk in a foreign language, it does not comes with a translation, and they expect you answer them in the same language.
Understand the need
The idea for Immersia came about a year ago when one of its founders, Guy Bar-Ner, tried to learn German, but could not find a method that suited him. As a result, he became interested in the study of languages and the various teaching methods that exist today, only to find that 60 percent of users that start the learning process stopped during the first month.
Desire to understand where users get stuck created Immersia. At this point Guy added Rony Herut and Karen Shlimovich to his team and the three began working on the current version of the game, which launched last week. Through the game, they want to offer an alternative to the methods available today that offer words and phrases without context. That is, students receive a list of words and they memorize them alongside their grammar rules to remember in order to understand how, in the future, they will use language and how to speak it fluently.
The idea is to make the learning process a game so you can succeed. The situations can then be less stressful and more natural when walking around in a foreign country whose language you did not know. Thanks to the demand expressed when encountering virtual locals, the game becomes a form of experience (good or bad), through which users can link the words and remember them easily.
The service is free
The initial game launched by the company focuses on the study of French, a language that could scare some users. That is, the characters will talk only in French and the game does not offer simultaneous translations. However, a small dictionary at the top of the screen allows for the search of individual words – just like a pocket dictionary will come to your aid during your trip.
When it comes to your side in the conversation, when prompted to respond – it will appear in English and you will need to translate it by writing in French, or speak out loud (when you set the mic). If you encounter a problem or do not know how to say or express a particular word, click on the English part and it will show the solution and full translation – but take off your total points.
We must admit that French is not the first language we want to learn, but we decided to be open to new experiences and possibilities. However, probably the main requirement in question is the desire to learn the language, otherwise the process becomes copying and pasting text in French, without having to understand or even having the desire to understand what we say or what the characters tell us.
The current game has three different levels, four characters you can talk to and a chance to learn 120 new words and 16 complex sentences. In the coming weeks Immersia plans to launch versions for learning English and Hebrew. In the future, the company plans to offer additional languages such as Russian, Japanese, Spanish and more.
The company offers the Freemium model game, available free to all users, but certain features will cost money if users want to enrich their learning experience even more.
Understand the market
The language learning market is not small, one can find hundreds and even thousands of such products that help users to learn, understand or deal with foreign languages all over the world. Two major competitors for Immersia are Rosetta Stone, the largest online language learning tool, and Duolingo.
While Immersia is in its infancy, it is clear that its purpose is to offer a user-friendly learning experience, unlike Rosetta Stone, which does not offer the experience and is not the cheapest. In addition, it wants to teach language in context, unlike Duolingo, which focuses on presenting sentences and translating them (and sometimes without logic).
According to the company, to date, Immersia is the only product that offers language learning through an interactive game. The speech recognition technology is an integral part of the teaching. Its main task is to create interest among users, so they come back again and again to practice the language and be able to hold a conversation in a relatively short time.