How we helped Fundación Danny in its endeavor to make language learning accessible for more children in Colombia.
A few days ago, prior to our Mondly AR launch, we invited some students over to our headquarters to test the new augmented reality experience. Since we worked hard to create Mondly AR for about 9 months, our opinion would probably have been subjective. So we wanted to see how normal people react to Mondly AR when testing it for the first time. The result surprised us. Here’s how Clara, one of the students, reviewed the experience:
If you tried one of the Mondly language learning apps (available for both Android and iOS users), then you know that they already are a strong competitor for Duolingo and managed to literally catch our eyes with their VR conversational chatbot. But with the AR experience gaining so much ground, Mondly takes a further step and announces a new launch sooner than expected.
Mondly AR uses AR to change the way we learn languages
Many of my friends that speak English as a second language told me the exact same story of learning English as a child: they all learned their basic vocabulary by watching English cartoons. That is what we all call learning through play. Now, I may be wrong, but it seems to me that this is also the concept that Mondly tries to cultivate with their new AR app.
A few days ago I had the chance to try their new augmented reality app and you will see why this made me believe that Mondly counts on the mix between innovation and the concept of learning through play; and why they might not be wrong in doing so.
An out of this world encounter
The new augmented reality experience from Mondly introduces us to a new character named Mondly with whom you can talk in various contexts (she can even change her outfit and become a waitress at the restaurant) and learn a new language in the meantime. After all, we all know it is easier to learn a new language when you are being social. The rendez-vous between me and my new virtual friend started after we scanned the room we were in using just the iPad’s camera. She immediately and seamlessly appeared in front of me. Her eyes met mine and I froze. It this even possible? That was just the beginning, but I already felt like a character in one of my favorite sci-fi shows.
But the coolest feature is yet to come. You just have to ask her to show you an animal. “Show me a rabbit” – I said – and a virtual rabbit magically appeared on the floor. I got to tell you: I have never been so amazed when seeing a rabbit in my whole life. Besides that, I learned that “rabbit” is “conejo” in Spanish. The rabbit started jumping around and I suddenly felt that anything could happen at this point so I quickly asked her to show me another animal fearing that the rabbit could take me to Wonderland.
The cow, the chicken and the flying eagle followed and I was simply mesmerized. I truly felt like a kid all over again. I walked around the room and discovered that I was capable to see Mondly and the animals from different angles and distances. I’m almost 24, but I’m quite sure that my 70 years old grandmother would also enjoy this as much as I did. When the elephant appeared I had to take a step back to see it better because it was enormous, like actual elephant size enormous.
Building the future of learning and teaching
On a more serious note, the new augmented reality app from Mondly uses technologies like chatbot and speech recognition and brings your conversational friend in your environment for a “face to face” interaction. For a more realistic effect, your virtual language learning assistant uses a human voice especially for you and uses your input to respond accordingly.
After this experience, I stopped for a second and imagined the possibilities. This new app (or module – I understand that the AR experience is available inside the main app) won’t only help us learn a new language in the most pleasant and easiest way possible, it should and will also influence the way we teach our children. We are heading towards a heavily technologized visual era and school should not be a drudgery. School should be more like Mondly AR. Failing a French test in middle school isn’t the end of the world. Learn it faster and easier with Mondly and then focus on the important things in life. Learn through play regardless of your age or native language. Learn because you like it, not because you need it.
Now, I was indeed amazed, but there may be room for improvement. I’m sure that until the launch they will work more on the conversation topics, but when technology makes it possible I expect the character and the animals to be more realistic. I’ve seen it in games, so I’m sure that this will soon be possible in AR.
Pokémon Go is cool, but can’t we all be a little more productive?
In the end, I am now sure that Mondly deserves a place next to the best of the best like Google and Apple. They identified the recipe for success in a simple learning problem and used advanced AR technology to give an answer. I have a feeling that more and more kids and even adults will stop chasing Pokémon. Instead, they will still play, but in a more productive way because they will also learn a new language meanwhile using Mondly AR or any other app from Mondly. That’s how you trick people into learning something useful: by luring them with something as interactive as this app.
As I left their headquarters in my 2004 Peugeot 206, I realized that these people live in the future and I am a decade behind them. Hopefully, smart use of technology like theirs will help us make our way to the future.
Thank you, Clara, for the entertaining review of Mondly AR!