Caption: "Navigate Conversations by where you've been, where you currently are, or browse the entire collection"
From the start, Voxy’s goal has been to make learning another language as effective and engaging as possible, using empirically established principles of instructed language acquisition and distance learning. Over the past two years, we’ve continued to learn what makes for great content and activities, and we’ve iterated on our product over and over again to continually improve the user experience. We offer our learners actual news articles and popular music, and we're excited to announce our latest task-based, contextual feature: Conversations.
Conversations in a nutshell
Conversations is a mobile and web-based feature that leverages audio recordings of authentic interactions to provide English learners with practical, real-world exchanges. The value of these non-scripted interactions lies in their exposure of colloquial expressions, intonation, rhythm and regional accents. After listening to and working with one of these genuine recorded dialogues, language learners can then record and listen to themselves taking the role of one of the original speakers.
Conversations is also location-based. Mobile users can optionally enable location awareness, allowing the mobile application to learn and suggest which recordings are the most useful and applicable based on the places that the learner frequents, such as an airport, restaurant, or pharmacy. Users can also, at any time, see where they are and whether or not there are any Conversations nearby.
Why go contextual?
Contextual learning has been a part of our products from the very start because access to relevant content makes for a more engaging user experience. Collecting information about learners’ needs, such as the places they visit throughout the day, allows us to offer maximally personalized lessons. Initially, we achieved this through a feature called Places, which offered users lists of vocabulary words relevant to their surroundings. Conversations takes contextual learning to a new level by not only allowing learners to practice with language relevant to the places they visit—either in the moment or the next time they have time to study, but also by giving learners access to genuine task-based dialogues tied to each location.
How did we pull it off?
With Conversations we wanted to achieve a truly novel user experience by making suggestions based on places where users have been, not just where they currently are. To achieve this, the Voxy engineering team designed an algorithm to compare our users' historical locations and routine to our database of dialogues. Through extensive testing we worked to refine our approach with the goal of preserving precious battery life and minimizing data usage. We achieved our goals by only listening for significant location changes based on cellular triangulation and WiFi – and avoiding direct GPS usage altogether.
Conversations is allowing us to take contextual learning to a new level. As we gather feedback from our learners, we’ll continue to work on novel products and user experiences that not only make learning a language painless, but fun too!.
Contributed by Julia Averbuck Marketing Intern, Dr. Katie Nielson VP of Pedagogy & Curriculum, and Sam Dozor Lead Mobile Developer, at Voxy