Last month, over 320 people (on Zoom and YouTube) took part in the 2021 LaunchPad, a Shark Tank-style language education technology competition sponsored by The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.
A group of judges, including Language Magazine editor Daniel Ward, selected FabuLingua as the 2021 LaunchPad winner. FabuLingua helps kids learn languages through interactive stories by writers and illustrators from all over the world. The learning tool maximizes comprehensible input through magical children’s stories, enabling the subconscious development of listening, comprehension and reading skills.
“We are thrilled to have won the prestigious LaunchPad 2021 award and be recognized as this year’s best new technology for language learning by a panel of experts in the field. We are grateful that the judges saw the importance and effectiveness of a platform that uses the magic of children’s stories as a vehicle for supplying engaging comprehensible input dedicated to children. When children learn a second language, it not only makes their brains stronger and smarter, opening them up to future economic opportunities and cultural awareness, but it primes them for a greater capacity for empathy – which is an important skill as our globe becomes more interconnected and has to solve increasingly complex problems,” enthused Leslie Begert, president and co-founder of the Texas-based start-up.
An engaged audience of language educators and tech enthusiasts from 15 countries chose ImmerseMe for the People’s Choice Award. ImmerseMe engages learners by allowing them to virtually step into more than 3,000 interactive scenarios to learn English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Greek, and Indonesian.
Scott Cardwell, co-founder and CEO of innovative company commented, “The last five years have been a collaboration between language teachers, native speakers, locals, and supporters to allow us an opportunity to apply some creativity to languages education. We aim to be at the crossroads between technology, education, and innovation, always looking for ways to inspire students whilst achieving learning outcomes. It’s not about technology for technology’s sake, but because it helps people…We’re a small but dedicated team based in Aotearoa, New Zealand with plans to scale our software globally and recruit local teachers to manage implementation.
The other finalists were:
• eKidz.eu (Germany)—eKidz democratizes language development by providing easy access to its platform through mobile devices, and by tailoring experiences to specific needs of children from different cultural and social backgrounds.
• Buddy.ai (California)—A voice-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) tutor of English as a foreign language for kids, this mobile app helps children practice their spoken English by conversing with a virtual AI-powered cartoon character—Buddy the robot. With its engaging virtual character, speech technology and adaptive learning, Buddy is making tutoring and speaking practice affordable for children worldwide.
• Syngli (Canada and California)—Syngli’s core product is an intelligent tutoring system, derived from interactive novel learning algorithms, an adaptive knowledge database and an online collaborative user community.
“We think that the LaunchPad competition serves an important purpose and is an example of a very laudable collaboration between academia, the government and entrepreneurs in the private sector,” concluded Fabulingua’s Begert.
The Tech Center will facilitate continued collaboration with LaunchPad entrepreneurs through programs such as Blended Learning Pilots, which provides opportunities for flagship programs to test the innovations.