In today's global economy, the need to learn and understand different languages has become imperative for many. It was this that gave rise to LingosMio. This app helps people learn languages in a fun and effective manner. The idea germinated in Alok Arora's mind during a trip to South America.
An investment banker from Barclays London, Alok found that it was easy to converse in most South American countries, thanks to his knowledge of Spanish. However, he felt he missed out on Brazil, because he didn't know Portuguese.
"I came back and decided to learn Portuguese. Since it was difficult to find a good tutor, I looked online; but there weren’t any good resources. That’s when the idea of LingosMio came up," says Alok. It also was Alok's personal love for languages that further fueled the creation of LingosMio.
Alok was clear from day one about what LingosMio was and would do. It had to be a platform that not only helped people learn a language, but also made sure they had fun while learning.
The initial days and challenges
For the first few months, LingosMio didn't work out of any office space. Team meetings were held at the local Cafe Coffee Day. The initial team, Alok says, consisted of a language teacher who speaks nine languages, and who was also his first foreign language teacher, and a team of developers.
"We also put together a team of freelancers, consisting of more language experts, native speakers, and students wanting to learn the language," adds Alok. This way the team was able to create courses that were precise, fun, interactive and effective at the same time. This was essential to creating the value system at LingosMio.
Alok says one of the biggest challenges was getting that initial team in place, as he wasn't a foreign language teacher or app developer. The next biggest challenge was building the course material, on paper as well as in presenting the same in a highly effective and interactive manner.
"Initially, getting users onboard was another difficult task. However, since LingosMio is as effective as it gets when it comes to language learning, it spread very quickly," says Alok.
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Launch, traction and USP
While LingosMio rolled out in January this year, the android app was launched in March. Since then they have garnered over 70,000 users, and over 60,000 app downloads. "LingosMio is already ranked in the top 10 of all education apps in about 9 countries (and is spreading quickly to other countries too), and is the number one education app in a couple of countries too," adds Alok.
While, Alok agrees that there are several language learning apps and websites present in the market today, he believes that these serve more as additional tools. With LingosMio, though, you can independently learn a language from scratch. This, Alok adds, is because there are several people who don't have the time or resources to take these classes in their respective cities.
With LingosMio, one not only learns the language, but also understands the roots of the words, and how to use these words in making your own sentences. "We believe that languages are a thought process, and it’s important to understand this thought process in order to be fluent in the language. People try to memorise, which is the reason most people give up on learning languages very quickly," adds Alok.
Another major aspect of LingosMio is that it helps individuals with accents, and even trains them on conversational skills. Each chapter ends with a conversation recorded by native speakers, which students can learn from and emulate.
The courses on the website and the app are free, at present. The course content on the app too will remain free. The team is, however, working on more features and course content, which will be chargeable as a part of the premium offering.
Market and growth
Thanks to the growing use of smartphones, there are several language-learning apps like Babbel, Duolingo and Busuu. While the idea of learning another language online is not as big in India as compared to the USA or Europe at present, it is catching up.
"Something we noticed was that a lot of our growing user bases are people who want to study Hindi and are from India, something we did not expect. Just like in India, around the world too, most people wish to learn English. However internationally, there are a lot more people who want to learn other languages too, compared to India," adds Alok.
Presently, LingosMio has English courses for those who speak Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi and Urdu, and Spanish, Hindi and Mandarin Chinese courses for those who speak English.
They plan to introduce similar courses in more languages. This, they believe, will spread their presence to more countries. They also have a plan on introducing more new language courses. "Portuguese is the next one we are working on," concludes Alok.