Language learners wanting to add new mots or frases to their vocabulary are turning to a tool developed by a Canadian startup.
Fluent is a Google Chrome extension that helps users learn a new language while browsing the web. Co-founded by CEO Gavin Dove, Head of Design Olga Sanchís, CTO Yaniv Silberman and CMO Ara Ghougassian in 2020, Fluent works by taking select words and phrases on sites users visit and translates them to the new language you’re learning.
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“It’s a completely new way to learn, you get to practice just by living your life,” explained Dove in an interview with Daily Hive. “We call this the fluent flow. You pick up new words, phrases, grammar, and pronunciation without interrupting your life. You’re learning while you respond to friends on messenger, read an article in the Daily Hive, or even while ordering takeout.”
“The key to learning a language is consistency. Get a little bit better, every day. The trouble is that it’s really difficult to build and maintain that habit of daily practice. Fluent turns your daily browsing into language practice so it’s an easy habit to keep. Anyone can learn, no matter how much you’ve got going on.”
Fluent translates select words and phrases to the language that the user wants to learn, on any website that they’re on. The Chrome extension then takes those new words and regularly engages the users with them across all the sites they browse until they have fully learned them.
The inspiration behind developing Fluent came from the founders’ own experience with language barriers.
“We’re all immigrants or the children of immigrants. We’ve seen first hand how our parents struggled to find work and feel at home in a new land,” said Dove. “Even now, years after immigrating, we still have to help our parents fill out forms or reading letters. To this day language is a blocker for them and their story is one of millions.
“Then personally we felt this struggle ourselves after moving to Montréal which is a French-speaking city. Our high school French wasn’t good enough, Duolingo didn’t work, and we felt we didn’t have the time to become conversational. We thought we struggled because we were too busy with jobs, families and partners to take care of, and side projects. But everyone we met had the same story. Slowly we realized that the current tools were broken, not us.”
Fluent boasts over 7,000 users and growing, with over 2 million unique words practiced by language learners. The Chrome extension currently offered in French and Spanish, with Italian in beta and being released to the public in the near future. Additional languages will be added to Fluent in the coming months.
“For now we’re helping people who can natively read and browse the web in English. A big goal for us in the near future is to support learning in both directions,” said Ghougassian.
“For example now we help English readers learn Spanish, in the near future we’ll be helping Spanish readers learn English as well, and so on for all our supported languages.”
“Making it easier to learn a new language will directly improve hundreds of millions of lives,” added Dove. “People will be able to get better jobs, fit into new communities, and deeply enjoy new cultures if we succeed at what we do. That the ultimate inspiration for us.”