Learning a new language can be tough and more than a little scary. A forthcoming mobile app called LingoZing promises to ease users’ fears and help them learn to speak a foreign language by reading comic books and graphic novels.
It’s a neat idea, and based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re pretty blown away by the execution. LingoZing is a digital comic library that’s a bit like Comixology, but differs in that it offers the ability to switch between multiple translations of each comic panel.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though: In addition to reading the panels, LingoZing lets you hear them narrated by actors, and you can follow along in two languages, as well as switch back and forth between them. Perhaps most impressive of all is the ability to have a go at reading panels yourself, with a voice recognition feature that then grades your pronunciation.
“Anything that is audio/visual and fun is attractive to people, provided it is well put together,” Kyra Pahlen, LingoZing founder and president, told Digital Trends. “I think that parents will be very happy that their children are drawn to something that can enhance their education and future life. The pop-culture part of it is an asset because it makes it accessible. The idea of learning a language has a bit of an intimidation factor to it. People don’t know if they want to make the commitment and risk failing. But if you just figure that you’re reading a comic and picking some language skills up along the way? That makes it an easy entry point. You can learn without realizing it.”
Right now, the service is raising funds on Kickstarter, with rewards securing you titles from the company’s library of comics. At present, these include a range of indie titles from around the world, although Pahlen (who has previously licensed characters like Superman in her professional career) said she hopes to add titles from other major publishers over time.
“We plan to produce a minimum of 60 titles per year, and 80 to 90 if we can,” she said. “We also plan to roll out more languages as we proceed. We really want to offer the best range possible.”
We’ll reserve our opinion until we’ve been able to comprehensively check out features like voice recognition — but this is potentially exciting stuff. With deals already being made to incorporate the app into schools, language classes are bound to get a whole lot more fun!
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