Language Hero - Propelify
Language Hero
  • New York
  • Quality Education
  • 11/01/2015
  • Pre-Seed Stage
Total 1155 Votes

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Our app enables students who don't each other's language to have face-to-face conversations in it from Day 1, democratizing language learning by functioning as a digital tutor where tutors are unavailable or unaffordable.

This is the first app specifically designed to use AI technology to deliver peer-to-peer language chat between humans. We use AI to make humans able to perform better and make their interactions smarter, rather than employ it merely a pure teaching agent. 1. Second Language Acquisition theory asserts that relaxed, real life, varied, comprehensible human communication is the best driver for learning to speak a new language well. Bots can't do this. Language Chat apps don't work for beginners with no common speaking ground, and game-ified grammar portals and apps like Duolingo don't provide conversation. A peer-to-peer system that removes pressure to produce or parse an unfamiliar language, while still generating immersion and enhancing bonding between students, provides the best conditions for acquisition to occur. 2. We strongly believe AI is a great potential means to drive collaboration and exploration between humans rather than a way to replace them or make them less relevant. This is especially true with kids. We think a HumanS-in-the-loop solution, which is inclusive for both students and teachers insures this. We've built a back end into our system which allows teachers and administrators to upload their own curriculum for our app; we then make it come alive as conversation. This keeps everyone in the loop.

This project will democratize language learning once efficacy is demonstrated. We found signs of that in our Beta, based on user feedback. The app takes on the role of digital tutor. This tech can and should be used anywhere that tutors are unavailable or unaffordable. For example, there are 4.6M English Language Learners (ELLs) in the US. Their school performance suffers when they can't mainstream to English as a young age. 36 States lack sufficient tutors to get them understanding and speaking conversational English. As a direct result, their performance suffers relative to non-ELLs. In New York, for example about 78% of high school students graduate, but only 37% of ELLs do. As one can imagine, they attend college in far lower numbers, as a result. Once ELLs become proficient English speakers, however their performance on tests is nearly the same as non-ELLs. Therefore, the ability to mainstream ELLs early on has a massive effect on their life opportunities. It's incumbent upon us to use affordable technology to help them, where it's available. Language Hero Smart Chat can get them speaking conversational English every day from Day 1. Here's the proposed use case: There are 5M Spanish Students in our secondary schools. Meanwhile Spanish is the primary language spoken by 3.8M ELLs. Smart Chat divides its chat into two 10 min. sessions. The first session is in one native speaker's language; the second one is in the other's. This gives both partners the opportunity to teach and to practice a language. The teaching occurs when the native speaker corrects the learner's pronunciation (and grammar if necessary). Empowering Spanish-speaking ELLs to help English-speaking Spanish students learn Spanish would accomplish 3 incredible goals. 1. It will get ELLs speaking conversational English, rather than doing grammar exercises, on a daily basis. Grammar practice doesn't produce speaking--real life communication does. 2. It will get some of those 5 million students speaking conversational Spanish, which is more than most Spanish classes (which focus on grammar and vocabulary) do. 3. It will provide a much-needed ego-boost to ELLs, who are able to act as teachers for Spanish students; more importantly, it will help to integrate them into the English-speaking community of students that they tend to avoid, due to their language barrier and the embarrassment it causes (and lack of acceptance from English speakers).

1. Warren, CEO. As a Trial Lawyer, I learned to speak Spanish by speaking to clients through an interpreter for 1 1/2 years at which point I was able to communicate directly with them. This has informed everything I've done with Language Hero and gave me a passion to change the way Language Speaking is taught. I later dove into Second Language Acquisition and, in 2017 alone, I led workshops at International language conferences in Hong Kong and Taipei, and was invited to address faculty and students at the #2 ranked University in Taiwan and the #1 Ranked English Department there. (NTNU, NCTU). I've managed tech projects for 18 years, worked as a trial lawyer, and written 2 academic papers on AI and Second Language Acquisition. I pitched my way into the Finals of the Global EdTech Startup Awards held in Jan 2018. I developed the app concept, functionality and UX with CDO Erick Kuo 2. Felix Fung, CTO, is a PhD Computational Neuroscientist who has specialized in mathematical modeling and scientific programming. He has more than 10 years of programming experience. 3. Evgenii Podkovyrov, CFO holds a Masters degree in Finance from St Petersburg State Univ. He built his first app (a human-in-the-loop trading app) with a college roommate at age 19, is managing partner of a FinTech firm, and has been working in the field of AI for 11 years. 4. Erick Kuo, CDO, has been working in the design industry for 30 years, has won multiple awards from major competitions, and has worked at some of the world's top agencies in senior design and managerial positions (most recently Creative Supervisor at Grey Interactive, NY). Erick created a seamless, intuitive UI for the App and, along with Warren, developed and fleshed out the functional and experiential aspects of Smart Chat 5. Christopher Davis, CMO, has won multiple Effie awards for marketing campaigns, which have included companies such as Nissan and Infiniti. He's worked as Creative Director at BBDO, Spike, DDB, and MTV, and started his own Creative Firm (The True Agency and, more recently, Tiny Helicopter). 6. Joanna Lu, COO, has some 20 years in banking management under her belt, including Global Markets Operations, VP, Country Head for Deutsche Bank Taiwan.