When I heard about Lingopie, a language learning platform that uses TV programming for learning a language, I was intrigued. Rather than focusing on grammar and sentence structure, this language learning app emphasizes learning communication itself. Watching television shows and movies in another language is a direct line to this skill. During my education, learning a language was through memorization and worksheets. It seemed like a little conversation but plenty of conjugation. Much to my parents surprise, the first time I traveled with them to a Spanish-speaking country, I couldn’t speak a word of it. It was frustrating and slightly embarrassing after three years of study.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to move to Spain for a year, where I learned to speak and think in Spanish. Knowing the importance of learning a second language, we enrolled our children in a dual-language school. Now they are learning a third language. However, I see them experiencing the same issue I had. Plenty of grammar and vocabulary learning but not enough conversation. I am in no way minimizing the importance of grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary memorization, but not at the expense of conversation.
How it Works
I wanted to learn more about Lingopie and see if this language learning app could help me polish up on my Spanish. I found plenty of movies/shows to choose from Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexíco, and Venezuela. I went straight to the programming from Spain and watched Watched Kitty is Not Cat (a kids’ cartoon), Si Fueras Tú (a teenage drama), and El Continental (drama series). I felt my Spanish sharpening up immediately!
With Lingopie’s programming for younger viewers, I introduced my kids to the site as a way to supplement what they are currently learning.
Surfing through the language learning app, I found young kids TV, drama and dystopian type shows for the teenage audience, historical programming, telenovelas, best of for the different countries, documentaries, thrillers, binge-worthy shows, and even family programming.
Think Netflix structure with language learning components. I was able to slow down the movie and even interact with the captions by clicking on a word to see the translation in a new box.
When clicking on a particular word, the video stops to give you time to see the translation and not miss any of the programming. The words I clicked on also went into a flashcard basket so I could review them later.
Lingopie got me excited again to learn and sharpen my language skills. I had the chance to talk to the founders about how they came up with this great approach to learning.
How did you come up with this language learning program/process? Did you consult with educators, experts in the language learning field? How did you figure out this was a preferred method of learning, and did you test the learning subject before launching?
We based our platform on both personal experience and academic research. From a personal standpoint, this is how David Datny (co-founder and CEO) learned Hebrew and I learned English. Not only is this super effective for learning but you get to do something fun. Doing something habitual like watching TV is also engaging and eliminates the feeling of ‘hard work’.
Also, this language learning method is academically proven and one of our advisors in the language field – Prof. Robert Vanderplank – has studied and published his research for the past 30 something years. A link to some of his work can be found here.
Additionally, if you travel to Europe for example, you’ll immediately notice the difference in the level of spoken English between countries where American TV is dubbed (Germany, France) and countries where English is not dubbed (Sweden, Holland, Denmark). Here is some additional research on subtitling in learning English and the effect of dubbing when learning.
Is it only computer based language learning app or is there an smart phone app that can be downloaded to stream on a home TV? If I were to go to my Apple TV+, could I stream from the app on this device/platform?
We have a mobile App, which was recently launched in the US. We are not yet available on Apple tv+ but we will in the near future. As of now, the platform is primarily available on computer. (update the app is now available)
What age group and demographics are you marketing towards?
We are actually marketing toward all age groups, and have shows on the platform for kids and adults alike. Interestingly enough, shows like Oswaldo and La Cacia are some of the most popular (even though they are kids shows) because they are slower and easier to learn from. We’ve really seen our audience grow to cover all age demographics.
Do you plan to eventually work with schools/universities to incorporate your program into classroom curriculum?
We get a lot of requests from schools and teachers, as it is a great product for educators. We are also in the process of creating Learning Management Systems (LMS) features in the near future so teachers and schools can assign movies and shows to their students, and follow their progress.
Check out Lingopie for more information or how to start your own language learning adventure.
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