Sci & Tech

English Learning Overhauled

English  Learning  Overhauled
English  Learning  Overhauled

The smartphone revolution has radically shaken up a host of industries. We have seen the taxi industry merge with messaging apps such as Uber and also noticed the rise of e-commerce, but some sectors appear impervious to these emerging trends.

The language learning sector remained a glaring example, but only until recently.

A Tehran-based husband and wife duo have caused a disruption in the traditional English-language learning industry with their innovative application called Teatalk.

 The Language Learning App

Moe Nazariha and Shokoufeh Moradi launched their application in December and have received positive responses from users at home and abroad wanting to learn English on a peer-to-peer basis.

In an interview with Financial Tribune, Nazariha said, “We help people actually engage in a very practical way using our method, instead of having a teacher lecture them in a traditional format.”

Asked about Teatalk’s edge over a traditional language lesson, Moradi said, “We concentrate on speaking skills only, so people can focus on the core communication skills.”

Nazariha explains that while developing the application, they discovered that “speaking is a more difficult skill to learn in isolation”.

What’s really interesting is that people actually learn from each other and the traditional teacher’s role is not necessary.

The couple added that people are becoming hooked on what they’re learning and it feels natural to them.

Getting down to technicalities, the Teatalk designers believe retention remains a key issue and lowering the bitrate between each user has really helped keep the traffic constant and also helped keep people with intermittent Internet connectivity on the platform.

 Users & Demographics

When it came down to understanding the demographics of users, Nazariha mentioned that a potential group to take up the platform intends to move to English-speaking countries and needs to practice their skills.

Location wise, Teatalk is attracting people from the emerging markets, including South America, Africa and Asia. However, the couple were surprised to get users from Europe and North America as well.

Moradi noted one interesting incident involving a user from Syria having an issue with payment, “which led to someone in Europe paying for a full year’s subscription on behalf of the Syrian”.

Nazariha noted, “This app is opening up a new learning stream to millions of people around the world, who earlier had no way to interact with native English speakers.”

 Future Plans

The company hopes to take this to another level by adding services like business English in future.

The two said they don’t have plans to add extra languages at the moment, but admitted that the learning model is not limited to language learning and can be adapted to other subjects as well.

For commercial tie-ups, the company said they are currently in negotiations with a local mobile telecoms operator, which they did not name because it was still tentative. But they did note that if they had the support of a large telecoms operator, the platform could accelerate inside Iran.  

In five years, they see Teatalk contributing to the wider use of the English language.

Nazariha said over 1 billion people are currently learning English around the world and their unique hybrid system may be able to tap into that potential.

The Teatalk app is part of a wider global trend of independent online-facilitated learning, which promotes a faster dissemination of education  in developing and less developed countries.

The new method, based on Self-Organized Learning Environment, is already being used in Kingston University in London, according to Moradi, and was first introduced by Sugata Mitra in Hyderabad, India, in 2008.

Mitra has also given an extensive technology, entertainment and design talk on the subject in 2013 for further information on this new philosophy of learning.

Nazariha ended by say, “I’m happy to have developed our company in Iran and can add to the growth of the country’s electronic and social messaging industry.”