About this project
Update! We've made it even more rewarding to back Fluent Panda! In addition to the rewards listed as part of your pledge...
- Every backer, no matter what your pledge, will get a free copy of Panda co-creator Philip Seifi's 13 ways to learn languages more effectively, (worth $16.99). Full of useful, practical learning advice that will be of use to any language learner, no matter the language or level.
- Unlimited backers, we're delighted to announce, will get access to our award-winning online learning platform LinguaLift (http://lingualift.com) for a full 12 months (worth $149).
- All £35+ backers will get a chance to vote for a bonus language! That's right! Even without our stretch goals, we'll provide an extra language on launch that you decide.
Learn with bite-sized, memorable lessons and scientifically-proven algorithms that are the perfect fit for your busy lifestyle!
Panda is a mobile app for:
- motivation-rich, time-poor English speakers learning a second language
- self-learners in developing countries learning English
In Panda, you will:
- learn through interactive, tweet-length lessons optimized for your smartphone
- review efficiently using scientifically-proven spaced-repetition algorithms
- feed and grow your own panda by learning every day
Rather than building yet another one-size-fits-all, get-fluent-quick methodology, we’re building a product perfectly adapted for a single platform (mobile) and a particular type of learner (busy self-learner).
We also believe that we must approach each language we teach from scratch, asking ourselves what is the very best way to introduce the language to somebody who is starting from absolutely zero.
We’ve all been there. Even after sweating over self-study books, flipping through hundreds of flashcards, and listening to hours of podcasts, you still can’t quite say what you want to say, in the way you want to say it.
What’s even more frustrating is when you know that you once learned a particular expression, word, or turn of phrase that would be perfect for a particular situation, but at the critical moment, it escapes you.
What if your textbook could adapt to your learning needs, only showing you the information that’s appropriate for your level? Wouldn’t it be useful if your textbook periodically reminded you of the content that you didn’t quite ‘get’ first time round? How good would it be to maximise the efficiency of each and every study session?
An advanced spaced repetition algorithm
You can get a good deal from rehearsal,
If it just has the proper dispersal.
You would just be an ass,
To do it en masse,
Your remembering would turn out much worsal.—Ulrich Neisser
Spaced repetition (SRS) is one of many bits of science that Panda uses to make learning as effortless as possible.
Let’s compare two ways of learning:
- massed repetition is when you review the same information several times in a short space of time
- spaced repetition is when you review the same information several times, but the repetitions are spaced out
As it turns out, spaced repetition leads to significantly better learning than massed repetition:
Many polyglots make use of this finding, but traditional SRS software is complex, difficult to set up, and ill-adapted for learning entire grammar points rather than just individual vocab items or Chinese characters.
We’ve built on years of experience teaching languages to self-learners to develop a new teaching method that combines scientifically-proven spaced repetition algorithms with a user-friendly design and hand-crafted content perfectly optimized for your busy lifestyle.
The language is presented in interactive, tweet-length lessons that make use of spaced repetition and elegantly combine study & review. Easy to learn from, and perfectly suited for a quick catch-up review when the time is right.
With Panda, you can finally forget about forgetting!
Making a textbook for our generation
Fluent Panda's innovations do not stop at the technology behind it. The focus of the application is the hundreds of pages of our bespoke textbook series, that are skilfully broken down by experts in language pedagogy into a form that is ideally suited to the smartphone screen.
Each lesson, or 'leaf' as we call them, will focus on just one particular aspect of the language, seamlessly combining vocabulary, grammar, listening and script practice into a format that is perfect for short, but regular study sessions.
Examples of specific language points that would be covered by one single leaf are:
- The casual past tense of verbs in Japanese
- Adjective placement in French
- Reflexive verbs in Italian
- Irregular plurals in English
- Regional pronunciation variation in Russian
Since the content is created by language learning experts, we'll have a good idea as to which order the leaves are best presented. However, the more that Fluent Panda's powerful algorithms learn about how you are learning, how you are retaining, and where your particular linguistic strengths and weaknesses are, the more personalised the learning experience becomes.
A free English Panda for developing countries
At each funding goal, we will launch not only content for several foreign languages, but also free English learning apps for developing countries!
In developing countries, learning the English language can be life-changing, but children and adults alike encounter three major problems:
- Internet is not widely available, or particularly reliable, often accessible only in larger cities which can be miles away from their place of residence
- Tutors and other learning resources are often insufficient, prohibitively expensive, and here again only accessible in larger cities
- A busy lifestyle between long working hours and family commitments can make it difficult to learn & review regularly, consistently, and in long enough intervals
Panda English answers all three of these considerations.
First, access to internet connection is only required to install the base application and download learning content.
Second, the Panda course is specifically designed with self-learners in mind. Sentences have native pronunciation audio, and grammar is explained in such a way as not to require outside pedagogical guidance.
Finally, Panda’s bite-sized lessons are perfectly suited for a quick catch-up review when the time is right—whether you’re grazing sheep in the country, or standing in a long queue in the city hall.
We will not charge our users in developing countries a fee for using our application, but rather fund its development with revenues from our for-profit sister applications, with additional support from NGOs and local governments who see the value in making quality foreign-language education available universally.
We will launch the first Panda app with Japanese, Mandarin and Korean courses going up to at least intermediate level.
Our team has over 5 years of experience working on award-winning educational products for learners of Asian languages. We’re super confident that our proprietary algorithms and methodology provide an ideal basis for teaching these three languages.
We will also launch an English Panda in Mongolian, providing free language education to over half a million people with very limited access to learning resources, in the fastest growing economy in the world.
Our second stretch goal consists of Arabic, Farsi and French — three languages that will get you by across the Muslim world.
Our team has over 7 years of experience teaching French, and we have extensive contacts in the Middle East who will help us make the best apps for Arabic and Farsi on the market.
We will also release a free English Panda in Farsi, reaching millions of learners in the Middle East without ready access to language classes.
Our fourth stretch goal includes Spanish, German and Italian — three essential business languages spoken across the globe.
We will also release a free English Panda in Spanish, reaching millions of learners in Latin America without ready access to internet or language classes.
Our fifth and last stretch goal is Cantonese, the official language of Hong Kong.
We will also release a free English Panda in Mandarin, reaching hundreds of millions of learners across mainland China and beyond.
Language lessons & editing: We already started working on Panda courses for a few of the languages and initial feedback has been most encouraging. We now need to scale our content creation team to author more lessons, and make sure to catch all typos and mistakes before launch.
Pronunciation audio: We’re in touch with a team of excellent voice over talent, from professional singers to radio hosts, who’ve already recorded hours of vocabulary audio for use at LinguaLift. We will record native pronunciation audio for every single word and sentence in the Panda app, and need to fund its production and editing.
User experience design: We’re obsessed with interface design that’s not just functional, but also beautiful and a pleasure to use. We’ll make sure to spend sufficient resources on UI design, usability testing and focus groups to make the app something you’ll look forward to use every day.
App testing and development: We hate sluggish, buggy, badly designed apps as much as you do. Panda will be as fluid as butter and perfectly adapted for each and every platform.
EduLift is a small but successful ‘edutech’ startup founded by two internationally-minded Harvard University and University of Oxford students who are passionate about language learning, but unsatisfied with any method on the market.
In the last four years, while pursuing our undergraduate studies, we launched several award-winning educational games and online communities (https://lingualift.com/) with a combined userbase of almost 100,000 students, and a language learning blog with over 50,000 readers every month. We’ve received no outside funding, and are entirely self-sustained.
We are now ready for a new chapter. Ready to build on our years of experience in language learning innovation to make a lasting impact on regions where people would benefit from learning a second language the most.
Philip Seifi is a Russian designer, developer and nomad entrepreneur. It is he who developed the original award-winning NihongoUp Japanese learning game in 2009, while still at high school. He studies econ & gov at Harvard and in his free time enjoys horse riding, chess, ping pong and cooking.
Ollie Capehorn studied Law with French at Oxford. He has been working with Philip on NihongoUp since 2010, fresh after representing the UK in a Japanese speech competition in Tōkyō. Whilst not studying, he is an active stand-up comedian and a keen debater.
- Timur Seyfi for the dedication and understanding he showed throughout the realisation of the video
- Samaneh, Oyunaa, Erik, Ruddy and everyone else helping us get English Panda to developing countries around the world
- Satoko and all other professors and researchers at Harvard, Oxford, 関学 and 九大 who have helped us improve the way languages are taught online
- DevelopGo for marketing support
...and all the people that we forgot to mention due to our lack of sleep, we apologise!
Risks and challenges
As a team we have over 5 years of experience building award-winning language learning applications and online communities. This will be our first major foray into mobile language learning apps, but several members on our team have experience in mobile design and development from other industries.
We already started working on content for a few languages on the list, and we are confident that we can author content up to at least lower intermediate level before launch. Although we have multiple authors, and a number of contingency plans, it is possible that there will be delays in creating and proofing all of the content. In this event, we will not let it delay the project overall. We would simply launch the app with a reduced amount of content, and add the content as soon as it is ready.
We also traveled to several developing countries in each region last year, interviewing locals and visiting educational institutions to better assess their needs & requirements. We have very dependable contacts whom we trust to serve the project's best interests.
A minor concern is the right balance when it comes to audio. We would like to keep the learning experience entirely offline, as not everyone has a data plan at all times, but we’d also prefer to include as many example sentences with native pronunciation audio as possible. We’ll need to strike the right balance between audio size and quality, and possibly divide the content into smaller, separately downloadable packages. This is a problem that will be resolved with user testing, and some trial and error.
We thank you for your support in helping us bring Panda to life!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We’re keen to under-promise but overdeliver. These are our conservative estimates for when we’ll be ready to unleash Panda to the world.
Kickstarter begins: March 27th
Kickstarter ends: April 27th
May 2015: Receive KS funds
Jun 2015: Finish UI, design
Jul 2015: Alpha version of the app
Sep 2015: iOS app launch
2015: Android app launch
2016: Windows 10 / Windows Phone app
Kickstarter makes this a bit tricky. You’ll need to create a second Kickstarter account to pledge to multiple rewards or to the same limited reward more than once.
Yes, we do plan to introduce game mechanics of this type into the app. The initial release will be limited to growing your Panda by feeding it regularly through learning & reviewing. Later releases will likely include the option to earn or purchase language-specific clothing items etc.
English Panda for developing countries will be financed through a combination of revenues from for-profit Panda apps and contributions from NGOs & governmental organizations interested in promoting English-language education in their regions.
If this model fails to be sustainable, we will look into partnering with local advertisers to keep the app free & regularly updated.
The current plan is for Fluent Panda to be based entirely on in-app purchases of additional content on top of a free base app and beginner content - no subscription.
This is a very hard question to answer! We think that the main innovations in Panda can be broken down into three areas.
Firstly, we've run a successful online language learning platform for over 5 years, and we're using the masses of data we've acquired about our users study habits to produce unique SRS algorithms that are better than any other on the market.
Secondly, we go beyond our competitors (both free and paid), as Fluent Panda doesn't just focus on vocabulary, or characters, or grammar. Instead, we've taken on the challenge of teaching the language in its entirety, with boiled-down, bite-size lessons written by qualified teachers.
Finally, we've found a way to use SRS algorithms to dynamically switch between learning and reviewing, at a time that's best for the student, meaning that no study time is wasted, and the transition from short-term to long-term memory happens with a higher success rate than regular study materials.
This is a stupid question. Everyone loves pandas. If you disagree, go and watch this video and then come back: https://www.youtube.com/watch…
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