Language learning is an essential skill in the modern world. Before the pandemic, it had rarely been easier to travel the world, meet new people and experience foreign cultures. To that end, being able to speak another language is invaluable.
One of the most spoken languages in the world is English. Globally, there are around 1.1 billion English speakers. Only 379 million of those are native English speakers. A large portion of English speakers around the world, therefore, does not have English as their first language.
As a result, parents want their children to learn English as it gives them the best start in life. Beginning this process, however, can be challenging. Thankfully, Lingumi is here to help.
Launched in 2017, Lingumi focuses on teaching English to non-English speakers. Lingumi was originally launched in China, but it now has users in UK, Germany, Italy, and France, mainland China and Taiwan. 40% of their 100,000 are using the app daily.
Lingumi is a playful English language learning app targeted at 2 to 6-year-olds. It teaches English from a beginner level. However, Lingumi goes further than just teaching children English. It teaches them how to pronounce the words and tackle the more challenging aspects of speaking English.
Lingumi’s founder, Toby Mather, came up with the idea whilst studying Modern Languages at Oxford University:
‘[Toby] spent a year teaching English in Russia and Italy during his studies, and found that children were beginning English in big groups, at the age of 6 or 7, and found it difficult to learn the words, accent, and structures of the language.’
Lingumi works in three steps. The first step is ‘Learn’. Here, children engage in interactive language learning activities. These see children practice pronunciation whilst learning new words and grammar structures. The pronunciation practice is particularly important given the complexity and irregularity of English pronunciation.
The next step is ‘Speak’. To do this, children do voice or video recording to further practice their pronunciation and become accustomed to conversing in English. Teachers send the children questions who will then record their answers in audio or video format. It should be noted that any video recorded is private. Videos can only be shared with friends added on the platform.
The final step is ‘Celebrate’. At the end of each lesson, children receive a report card. Parents can track how their children are progressing. Parents can also share how their children’s progression with friends. This forms part of Lingumi’s focus on social learning. After their lesson, children can watch their friends speaking. With this resource, children can watch and mirror their friends to help with their progression.
Whilst Lingumi’s three steps provide a clear path of progression, the format is flexible. If the child does not feel able to complete the speaking exercises, that is not a problem. They can return to them when they feel ready.
Parents can choose from a variety of plans to best suit their children. Lingumi offers five trial lessons for free. Parents can explore Lingumi and decide whether they want to continue with it. If parents feel that Lingumi will be helpful, there are three plans on offer. A subscription for a year costs €99.99, offering a 17% discount on the normal monthly price of €9.99.
Lingumi received its first round of funding back in 2016. LocalGlobe, founded by former Index Partners investors Robin Klein and Saul Klein, took the lead in providing Lingumi with £500,000 to expand its business.
In April 2020, the China-based technology fund North Summit Capital, run by Alibaba’s former Chief Data Scientist Dr Min Wanli, was the lead investor in a new series A investment as Lingumi secured £4million. This investment allowed Lingumi to provide free activity packs and videos to help families during the pandemic.
Since it first launched, Lingumi has gone from strength to strength. The format is flexible and fun for both parents and children alike. Even if the parents do not speak English, they can learn alongside their children. Lingumi is, therefore, the perfect tool for helping to learn English in a fun and interactive way.
About the Author: James Hingley
James Hingley is a contributing Features Writer with extensive expertise in International Relations, Politics and Culture.
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