Lingua.ly, a free language-learning platform for Web App, Android, and a browser extension of Google Chrome, just made learning Russian more fun and easier to learn with context and language immersion rather than rote memory and learning dry grammar. Added on July 1, Russian is now among the existing family of languages on Lingua.ly, including Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Arabic. The app removes itself from the traditional, textbook method to a context-based approach that customizes to each individual’s language proficiency level and learning process.
For example, rather than using abstract sentences that are equivalent to a “see-Dick-run” format, Lingua.ly allows users to choose a topic that they like to learn to read by using news stories, blogs, and real websites. By double-clicking on an unfamiliar word in the article, a balloon pops up and informs the users how the word is pronounced with audio and how it is used in different contexts. If the word “Человек,” which means “human” or “adult male human” is double-clicked, Lingua.ly selects real-world materials that contain the word so that users can see how it is used in written context.
“It works by suggesting authentic content from the web with a 90:10 ratio of known to unknown words in order to create optimized conditions for learning,” explained Meredith Cicerchia, M.S., director of E-Learning and Communications at Lingua.ly, via an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice. “The apps include built-in Russian-to-English and English-to-Russian dictionaries so users can look up words in articles on topics of interest to them.” Learners could then make customized flashcards with audio, images, and sample sentences that are fed into a gamified learning platform.
Lingua.ly was founded by Jah Ihmels, Ph.D. from Weizmann Institute and Cambridge University and Orly Fuhrman, Ph.D. from Stanford. The technology behind Lingua.ly’s system was originally developed to catalog proteins in the human genome. Now it is used to learn a variety of languages.
Russian can be challenging to learn for most native English speakers, but the language learning process can be fun and made easier with context and immersion. Russian language enthusiasts should be able to grasp the general understanding of a sports article on the World Cup or President Vladamir Putin’s latest political issues. They can also learn to cook traditional Russian dishes by reading the recipes in Russian, such as okroshka, shchi, and shashlyk. Lingua.ly can be used by itself or as a complement application to other modalities of learning.
Even with Lingua.ly’s way of making learning a language fun and easier with immersion and context, why should anyone learn Russian? “Learning Russian is a fun challenge for polyglots, but more importantly, it is crucial to facilitating cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and trust between Western countries like the U.S. and Russia,” Cicerchia replies. “It also gives learners access to huge stores of literature which can be read without translations and a window into Russian daily life, in addition to politics and culture. Anyone looking to travel beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg will also find that Russian is a must for getting around as few people speak English outside of major cities. Lastly, it can also help in a handful of other countries as it is a widely spoken language across Eastern Europe and the Balkans.”
By Nick Ng