Learn A Language, 10 Words At A Time

As I wrote in my previous post about the PragueCrunch meetup, I was seriously impressed by what the people behind online language training service Learn10 are up to, so here’s an update with more information on that. Bear in mind that Learn10 is an entirely bootstrapped operation, founded by a British couple that moved to the Czech Republic a couple of years ago and are running the business from their home.

Learn10 allows you to quickly pick up the basic vocabulary of a language by teaching you 10 words a day, wherever you are. English speakers and learners can choose to learn frequently used vocabulary of a language for free using Learn10’s content (coming from one of 22 language pairs) or opt to input their own content (subscription-based). It comes with a widget you can share on any website or blog, as well as a variety of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

When you click through to a word on the Learn10 widget, it fetches some basic information about the word in question but also searches Twitter’s real-time stream so you can get a feel of how the word is used in a certain language. This is a small feature but a very good idea: sometimes context is exactly how you remember to use words and phrases in a foreign language correctly. Furthermore, a built-in, Flash-based avatar can be used to speak words to you, so you don’t only learn how to write but also how to pronounce them (only for paying subscribers). You can even record the way you speak words and share it with the Seesmic community in one click, so native speakers are able to correct (or compliment) you virtually in real-time.

What else is there? Learn10 features a quick test you can kick off to check the state of your knowledge about basic vocabulary for a foreign language, and integrates with Google Translate so you don’t necessarily need to leave the site if you want to immerse yourself in another language a little deeper. The company also enables you to install a browser toolbar (powered by Conduit) and comes with a nifty screensaver, giving you the ability to keep the 10 words you’re supposed to be learning coming back to you multiple times a day in various ways (see Extras). Did we mention there’s also an API? Finally, paying users can consult their revision history and keep track of their progress.

Learn10 also built an iPhone web app, available free of charge, that incorporates some of the features of the web version and allows you to learn vocab on the go, with the ability to test yourself while you’re at it. In the video interview I did with co-founder Mike Robinson, he shares more about the app (sorry about the fact that the screen isn’t always as clear as I would have liked it to be):