If there is a single, well-kept secret about language learning, it’s this:
There is no goal post.
At this point you’re probably already thinking, “wait – isn’t fluency the goal when learning a language?”
Well… sort of. You see, fluency is subjective, especially when it comes to domain-specific vocabulary. Take for example the word phonotactics. Unless your background is in linguistics, chances are you’ve never heard of it… right?
Language learning is an ongoing, lifelong process. It doesn’t matter if you are barely conversational in your target language, or if you’ve been speaking it professional for fifteen years. There will always be words and phrases you’ve never heard before.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of a language, ad-hoc learning is really the only way you ever become truly fluent. Instead of learning from a textbook, suddenly you’re learning vocabulary from the world around you: a novel, a TV show, a news article, or even just making small talk with a cab driver. Polyglots refer to this as “comprehensible input” and have been using it for decades. In fact, chances are you’ve already been using it your whole life to learn your native language.
When in comes to second languages, all of this is much easier said than done. Who enjoys stopping in the middle of a show or book to jot down notes or create flashcards to learn essential vocabulary? The answer: no one.
We thought there should be a better way to learn a language from the environment you’re already in, so we built Linguistic.
Linguistic is the first all-in-one, end-to-end platform for digital language immersion. With Linguistic, you can learn new vocabulary from a wide range of real-world foreign sources, such as news articles, blog posts, songs, podcasts, videos, and more, all with the click of a button. We aim to completely replace many of the tools in the modern learner’s toolbelt, such as Quizlet, Anki, LingQ, Language Reactor, Beelinguapp, DuoCards, or Lingopie.
Language learning is easily divided into two buckets: inputs and outputs. Inputs dominate the majority of the current language market and refer to anything not created by you using your target language. When you learn a new sentence on Duolingo, watch a YouTube video with Language Reactor, or read a lesson on LingQ, you are receiving your target language as active input. In other words, any activity that requires your ears or eyes.
Inputting is usually followed by a period of review, where maybe you leverage a tool like Anki or Quizlet to study vocabulary or grammar to make sure you remember it. Once you have a good enough grasp on a language you begin outputting. Outputs include writing or speaking in your target language.
Outputting is usually pretty tough for even intermediate learners, as it requires the ability to string together key words and concepts to produce coherent thought, often on a whim. Most language learning platforms do not focus on outputting, rather opting for “fill-in-the-blank” questions or constructing sentences from a predefined word bank. Language learners typically turn to language exchange platforms such as HelloTalk to practice ad-hoc outputting. Unfortunately, many of these platforms prioritize their social components over the central need of their users: learning.
Linguistic aims to combine these two buckets under one roof, owning the entire language learning process end-to-end. Learners receive inputs via a wide breadth of immersion materials, such as videos, songs, and articles, then have the opportunity to output via freeform writing prompts and conversations with other Linguistic members. Conversation especially provides learners with the opportunity to acquire even more input through their language partner’s messages, which they can then study in-app and re-use in future conversations.
This makes for a circular learning pedagogy we call the Language Learning Lifecycle.
Language learning is a lot like climbing a mountain: a really, really, really tall mountain. There are multiple places for you stop, pitch a tent for the night, and catch your breath. However, the largest campsite is about a quarter up: the intermediate plateau. It’s nowhere near the top, but it’s still far enough up that your legs are sore. You could probably just climb back down and all your friends would still be impressed you even made it up that far.
By the time you’ve reached the intermediate plateau, you’ve learned the alphabet, some basic vocabulary and grammar, and can maybe even hold some basic conversations in your target language. You’re comfortable with what you know and it’s enough to get by.
But it’s still only 25% of the way to the top.
Getting the top is steeper and much more treacherous, with fewer ledges to hold on to. To get to the top (and attain “fluency”) you need to fully immerse yourself in your target language. You find yourself hanging out indefinitely on the plateau. The rest of the mountain seems super scary and you aren’t even sure you know how (or have the stamina) to climb it.
That is where Linguistic come in.
Similar to how Facebook’s original mission was to “put the social experience of college online”, ours is to fully digitalize the manner in which people learn languages. With the advent of generative AI, we are witnessing the dawn of a new age of meta-learning. For the first time ever, we have the ability to fully generate comprehensive study materials for any word, sentence, or body of text you can find. Furthermore, this new technology enables us to provide on-demand assistance for learners all across the globe.
Today, immersing yourself in a new language is a long, difficult, and tedious process – but it doesn’t have to be. We are uniquely positioned to create tools that reduce the time and cost of techniques polyglots have been using for decades. Our team is just starting out, but we are all incredibly excited at what the future holds. Linguistic is currently in private beta, but you can sign up for our waitlist here.
We look forward to shaping the future of language learning with you 🧡