Did you study a language in high school that has since fizzled out of your brain? I, for one, remember very little of the five years of French that I took, with the ability to only say basic phrases that are barely enough for a natural, flowing conversation.
I am awestruck as I watch my more fluent French-speaking friends have conversations with natives, whilst I stand there attempting a form of charades and speaking French that would better fit a conversation with a child.
Knowing a language fluently comes in handy, not only in more casual situations but as an incredible skill on your resume. But how do you touch base with the language you learnt in your teen years and retain the information in your now-adult brain?
Created by Gabriel Wyner, Fluent Forever is the modern way to learn new languages. It is based off a book of the same name by Wyner, which is now being turned into an app that will help you become a language aficionado in no time. Little did Wyner know that the idea would strike a chord with so many people, resulting in the app’s Kickstarter campaign becoming the most-funded in history. Its original goal of $250,000 was met in just 17 hours of the campaign going live. The campaign ended on October 20th, and had doubled its original goal with $587,785 raised and 4,434 backers.
Fluent Forever was thought of when Wyner himself was learning languages through techniques he learnt through Anki, an app that uses flashcard-based learning.
Wyner, now fluent in eight languages, first started out by creating add-ins within Anki. Originally, he had promised 11 pronunciation-training products, but this was upped to 65 due to the success of that Kickstarter campaign.
The Fluent Forever app takes these pre-existing products and removes the difficulty of learning language through a third-party software, instead bringing it to you with an easy-to-use app.
The original app has changed dramatically through its unprecedented success, with various elements added along the way. It has yet to be released, but will focus on memory-based learning. Whatever language you choose, you will be taken through the alphabet of the language and its consonants and vowels, as well as rules associated with spelling and tense. Much like the book, the user will learn pronunciation first and will have the ability to personalise the process to best suit their learning.
The app will create relevant flashcards that allow the user to solidify the language in their memory, and allow them to review their learning. There is also an image search feature, which allows a user to enter a picture and gain various sentence structures in their chosen language that relate to the image. If a user gets stuck or wants a more in-depth explanation, he or she can turn to the app’s comments thread, where a native-speaking staff member can help answer any questions.
This will help the user eventually reach a high-intermediate level in their target language.
Although there is no official release date as of yet, the popularity of the app through its Kickstarter campaign and ongoing publicity means it will surely come across your radar when it is released worldwide. When it does launch within the App Store, it will feature languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Korean and German.
It is said that for now, a basic subscription within the app costing six USD will provide users with a monthly offering that grants limited access to the app. A full subscription will open up the ability to interact more intricately with the app, as well as the ability to talk to native speakers.
Wyner is not your typical app developer. He is a former opera singer, who took an interest in learning languages. The idea was developed seven years ago, when Wyner had to learn fluent French in just three months. By identifying his struggles, he has developed an app that has generated interest by targeting a problem that many, including Wyner himself, were facing – learning and retaining foreign languages.