Learning a new language and human languages in general has long been regarded as difficult. But when you step back, you realize that the problems you encounter are actually ones of learning and communication, says Elisa Belle, head of Language Learning at Myelo.com.
The Spanish-language language lesson platform was founded five years ago in Bologna, Italy, and has since grown to 1.5 million users worldwide. Based on Belle’s study of the different kinds of communication and language skills, Myelo’s platform offers gamified activities and simulations that encourage users to generate ideas, try new learning methods, and use language freely, without feeling intimidated or pressured. “We believe that language is a form of education and communication,” says Belle.
For example, the app offers class sessions that are scripted, but when students start discussing the material with their classmates, Belle says they often start improvising and striking up conversation about something other than what they’ve just watched on TV. “These are really well-respected learning modes,” says Belle. “And when you look at what students learn through these modes, it’s really profound.”
Some methods turn out to be especially effective, according to Belle. “It looks like when we test for expletives or its they drop out or they never finish…But actually, they don’t learn to use swear words,” she says. “I think it’s because they’re also going on a mission to try other words. But that to me is more important than how many dirty words they learn.”
Psychologists have observed that a person’s self-concept affects how likely a person is to learn. Belle shares a list of 29 training concepts she has developed with wordsmiths that helps people “connect and reflect” when they take the time to learn the things they believe are most valuable in their lives.
“It’s important to have some words that show ‘I can’t be doing this,’” says Belle. “We have written it on top of an effort to drop phrases, and write people before using them.”