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New Fluent Forever language-learning app breaks Kickstarter records

The Fluent Forever App: Kickstarter Video
Whether for fun or business, many of us would like to speak another language. There are various apps like Duolingo and Memrise in existence that help make this easier, but a new Kickstarter campaign wants to add another to the mix. It’s the work of Gabriel Wyner, an opera singer, multilinguist, and author of the Fluent Forever language-learning book — and he’s convinced that he’s come up with a way to crack the challenge of teaching people new languages.

The “hook” for the subscription-based app is not to get users to think in terms of translating individual words, but instead building up new associations between concepts and a large number of foreign words, which they can then access when trying to think of a particular word.

Fluent Forever has always focused on memory as the primary barrier to language learning,” Wyner told Digital Trends. “Not grammar, not listening comprehension, but memory. When I say ‘camera,’ your brain lights up with thousands of associated images, sounds and words. ‘Camera’ connects with iPhone and DSLR and shutter and lens. It connects with photographs you’ve seen throughout your life and the ‘shutter’ sound on your cellphone. It has grammatical associations: You might use a camera to shoot a photograph. You might see a cameraman on the news. You are never going to forget the English word ‘camera,’ because you have so many associations with that word.”

According to Wyner, however, when we learn other languages we don’t do this — which is why it’s easy to forget the words we pick up. It’s here that the new app aims to change things, with the assistance of some nifty flashcards and “ear-training” techniques. Through these, you’ll learn pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, all in a way its creator says is far more intuitive than other apps. Using the service, Wyner claims that users will be able to pick up a reasonable fluency of Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or Dutch in six months, German in nine months, Russian or Hebrew in 12 months, and Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, or Arabic in 24 months.

Those are some big claims, but clearly folks are convinced by the approach — since the app has already become the most-funded app in Kickstarter history. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor, you can get beta access to the app with a pledge starting at $40. Estimated delivery is set for August 2018.

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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