New Year, New Languages

Red car

It has now been 3 years since I started Linguisticator, and it's amazing both to look back and see how far we've come and also to look forward to what we have planned for the near future.

Linguisticator started as a one-man Skype-based business designed to solve a common problem: what is the process for learning a language? It was not about learning a specific language or about getting by on your holiday in a foreign country; it was about the underlying mechanics of language itself and the process necessary to outline, store, and internalize the essential patterns of language.

Three years later, we stick to many of the same principles, but we have expanded significantly in terms of ambitions as well as capacity to make those dreams realities. 2013 saw the crystallization and delivery of ELT Tiger, Linguisticator's first complete language-specific program. With the support of the UK Ministry of Defence — for whom efficiency, effectiveness, and scalability were primary requirements — we were able to develop and deliver a powerful English language training program capable of being rolled out to millions, from complete beginners to professionals looking to polish their English to the highest degree.

The autumn saw me in Libya, delivering a trial of ELT Tiger to the Libyan military. While I finished seeing one section of the program through in December, the full-scale trial will be completed in a couple of weeks' time when another section completes the program.

During the trial, the Libyans faced challenges many people will never experience: the prime minister was kidnapped at gunpoint, protests turned into massacres, militias fought in the capital, daily bombings and assassinations plagued the eastern city of Benghazi, strikes caused widespread and severe power outages which continue to disrupt most of Libya, and gas/petrol shortages caused backups of several miles and were so severe that people could not leave home. With no public transportation and significant travel distances common, this was a major issue. As I write this, I can take myself back to my room in Tripoli, listening to the RPGs and anti-aircraft fire, hoping my students were far away and safe. Despite all this, the students kept coming to class and kept studying. And they learned English.

Now, after extensive experimentation and based on the feedback of Linguisticator's users, we are expanding and are hard at work developing language-specific programs for languages other than English. A prototype of an Arabic program is already well underway, and other languages are in process. With a small team based in Cambridge, UK, and a network of language and technical experts all over the world, we are now mapping the world's languages one by one. We are also taking what we learned during the trial in Libya and revising and expanding ELT Tiger to be even more efficient and effective.

The Linguisticator program is like a high-powered engine for language learning — but we know most people would rather have a car than an engine. So, we are building those cars and powering them with the Linguisticator engine so that all the hard work of mapping and organizing a language's patterns is already done and fully explained and presented.

I am very pleased with how far we have come in three years, but know we have a long way to go. I'm looking forward to the work of this next year as we look to create the most rigorous and systematic language programs in the world.

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