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How This NYC Startup is Reinventing What It Means to Learn a Language

Thursday, 17 March 2016 06:23
(5 votes)
NYC based startup, Smigin, is teaching users how to speak a new language by focusing less on grammar and more on everyday conversation. Smigin makes language learning more practical by curating sections based on real-life locations and situations in which users will find themselves abroad.

New York, NY, March 13, 2016 --( Smigin's patent-pending method personalizes the language learning experience and teaches users relevant content they will use in everyday language. Unlike other language products that force users to learn the basics and complex grammar first, Smigin lets users choose from sections — such as Hotel, Café, Bar, and Public Transport — that tailors the learning experience to each user’s individual learning goals. Travelers going on a two-week vacation might not have the time or desire to learn the ins and outs of an entire language, but with Smigin they prepare what they know they’ll need to be able to say.

“The traditional approach to language learning is fundamentally flawed for the modern day user. People want instant access to the kind of language they'll use in a foreign country. It's not about learning how to say 'I like cats' or 'I have four brothers', it's about being able to order a coffee or a bottle of wine," said Founder/CEO Susan O’Brien.

Smigin’s Chat feature offers users an opportunity to engage in hundreds of simulated conversations and helps users practice responding to colloquial prompts and questions. As explained by O'Brien, "Chat is the closest you can get to a real-life conversation with a local, without buying a plane ticket. No matter how many words or phrases you learn in advance, it’s all pretty useless unless you can recognize what is being said to you and respond in authentic, everyday language.”

Smigin is currently available in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and English as a Second Language on; several languages are in production and scheduled to launch later this year. In addition to learning relevant words and phrases, Smigin uses native speakers and shot on location videos to add cultural context to what users learn.

Irish entrepreneur, Susan O’Brien, founded Smigin out of frustration with outdated and grammar-heavy language learning products. From her experience living and working in 7 countries, O'Brien – who speaks six languages – was compelled to create a language learning solution that solved the problem of not being able to apply new language skills in real life.

With the global language learning industry's revenue estimated to be more than 56.3 billion dollars, language learning products like Smigin have big potential for global scale.

About Smigin LLC: Smigin LLC is a language learning company based in New York City. Founded in 2012, Smigin has developed language-learning mobile apps for iOS and Android and has users in over 175 countries. Smigin Travel, a mobile app designed for travelers, has been featured multiple times in ‘Best New Apps’ on iOS and Android platforms.