Lingua.ly, a brand new way to learn a language, announced today the closing of a $1 million funding round from private and government investors. The sum adds to the startup’s previous .8M and comes on the heels of a major product launch in December, the company’s new iOS8 mobile app.
While part of a growing trend in language focused edtech, Lingua,ly is the first platform to encourage free language education via a Facebook-like news feed. Instead of set lessons, users rely on a mobile dictionary to look up words as they encounter them in their feed—this way learning can take place even during personal and work related activities.
As content is only limited by the availability of international new media, Lingua.ly provides a cost-free solution for those learning less popular languages (think Dutch, Portuguese and Hebrew) as well as catering to the billions of people around the globe studying English a second and foreign language, in addition to other common lingua francas like Arabic and Spanish.
“We’re giving people a way to learn the language they need and to get to know the local culture and news at the same time,” said Dr. Jan Ihmels, CEO and Co-founder. “We don’t waste a learner’s time on nonsense sentences but get right to the real content that’s relevant, timely and will help individuals build the vocabulary necessary to be considered proficient in a language.”
Ihmels started the company in 2011 with co-founder Dr. Orly Furhman as a way to take his own language learning strategies (Ihmels is a polyglot who speaks 4 languages fluently) and marry them with technology and the latest in linguistics research. After spending 2 years developing the patent-pending algorithm, the startup launched its first mobile app for Android last April and has since grown its user-base by 500k.
About 80% of Lingua.ly’s users are studying English and a majority of them come from the Middle East, China, Russia and Brazil where Lingua.ly’s Chrome browser extension and Android apps are among the most popular free tools for English learners. The startup has big plans for 2015 and foresses more international growth as they expand to more platforms and add new features to the service.
Though it mainly focusing on vocabulary and reading skills, Ihmels says Lingua.y is an essential part of every learner’s toolkit because it empowers individuals to find and master the language they really need to know. “We don’t decide what you learn, we just help you make your way through what’s available to you on the web.”
The Lingua.ly app can be used to study English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, German and Russian and is available as a free download in the iTunes App Store.