Learn a language: focus on the big picture

Dear Bliusers
it’s SHARING TIME. Let’s talk about an idea that is probably the foundation of Bliu Bliu technology and methodology.

While learning a language we tend to focus so much on the single words…

We love to memorize lists of words. It makes us feel better, rationally we feel like we are learning something, it’s a process we can explain and it feels good to know so many words. So many website and Apps are doing an amazing job with flash cards: don’t you use Anki or Memrise already? Yeah baby!

Bliu Bliu wants to do something different.

Instead of focusing on teaching you the single words, we want to move up, we want to show you the big picture.

Once you tell Bliu Bliu some of the words you can understand, Bliu Bliu finds the right content at your level. Based on the words you understand, we think you will be able to grasp the general idea of that text, the main message, you will understand what they are talking about and maybe create new connections between words or understand new meanings for a word.

No matter if you are a beginner or an intermediate, our mission is to be able to find real interesting content that you can already understand.

Of course you can use the translation for a single words but this is not our core business.
Bliu Bliu focuses on showing you material you can understand. We want to put you in a flow state, where you basically forget you are reading content in a language you are supposed to study.

The secret for us is to add a huge variety of content from different sources so that you don’t have to worry and find them, we do it for you, constantly, every day. You will be surprised by the amount of content you can already understand as a beginner, even from daily newspapers.
Unfortunately for minor languages we don’t have much content in the system but you can always help. Remember: if we have thousands phrases in the system, it’s very probable that we can find many that you can already understand.

From an email:
Take the English verb “to look out” (ie, be careful, watch for something). Translating it word for word won’t help you very much, you need to translate the phrase.

Our dream is that you won’t need to translate a phrase to understand it. By being exposed to the real usage in real situation by real native, you will be able to grasp the meaning. And this is true for any expression. Of course we are not there yet but this is our clear mission.

Kids do indeed learn all these expressions without using the dictionary, why shouldn’t we?
Kids might be smarter, they might have a different brain, might indeed be easier for them…but…is it?
What if we start telling ourself a different story and start believing that we can learn a language to fluency while having fun?

We did not solve this mystery yet, we are far from it, but we feel like we are on the right direction.
And if you will help us, we can get there pretty soon!

Red Herring 100 Europe Finalists

We are in the final of Red Herring’s Top 100 Europe award, a prestigious list honoring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the European business region. We just got the confirmation from Red Herring. More update on this story coming soon, for now, you can check who is going there.

On behalf of Red Herring, congratulations on being selected as one of this year’s Red Herring 100 Europe Finalists. We screened hundreds of companies for the award so your achievement is no small feat.
http://www.redherring.com/events/red-herring-europe/2014finalists/

We read some interesting stories about this event and we can’t wait to keep you updated on how things are going.

“This year was rewarding, beyond all expectations. The global economic situation has abated and there are many great companies producing really innovative and amazing products. We had a very difficult time narrowing the pool and selecting the finalists. Bliu Bliu shows great promise and therefore deserves to be among the Finalists. Now we’re faced with the difficult task of selecting the Top 100 winners of Red Herring Europe. We know that the 2014 crop will grow into some amazing companies that are sure to make an impact.”
- Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring

Stay tuned

Build a School in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra talks about an experiment he made. He was surprised to see that apparently all kids of rich people were extraordinary gifted with computers. Well, poor kids did not even have a computer.

So he dumped a computer into a slum, kids found it, got curious about it and asked what it was. Sugata did not tell anything, he just left.
They did not know english and they did not know how to use a computer.
Few months later….

Apparently you can teach people anything. We are able to self teach ourself when we are passionate about what we are doing.
We love this talk, this is exactly what we are working on at Bliu Bliu: Build a School in the Cloud

Addictive and Dangerous

I admit I have neglected BliuBliu lately, but I had to add a website blocker add-on to my browser, to force me to work in my working hours, and not kill time on BliuBliu or other websites. So yeah, it is addictive and “dangerous”.

Customer Care at Bliu Bliu is a fun place to work at!
Bliu Bliu could not have better users. Please keep sending such complaints…

We keep improving the system to make it the best tool ever invented to learn a language

Same lessons for everybody?

Orsolya wrote us with a question:

how is it decided what new users (or those who just add a new language) see? Do those sentences depend on what level the user sets, or are they the same for every user for that same language?

How do we select the content for exposure to a language?
Sentences/phrases/content are shown based on a score that we call BB Factor
BB Factor is a combination of:
* user level (how many words can you understand in that text)
* prediciton (how many words we predict you will understand in that text)
* topics (did you click on a specific topic? topic related words are more important)
* quality (texts favourited by many users become more important)
* rating of collections (content in bad collections come up less frequently)

Basically every student gets a different text. The first ones could
be similar as we don’t know the level but as soon as the user tells Bliu Bliu which words he understand/don’t understand the content we find starts to be quite different.

We don’t believe in learning a language in environment where everybody gets the same things. We believe that the learning experience should be highly personalized and we are working hard to make it happen.

Ingenious Platform

Good morning everybody. How was your weekend?
We had lot of fun at Bliu Bliu. Lots of pages are going to be redesigned so prepared to experience a totally new Bliu Bliu in few days.

On the sunny side of the street…Noa thinks we are an Ingenious Platform to learn languages.
We don’t know about that but thank you…as a young startup we always love to receive compliments.


Please retweet and share the love

We do agree with Noa that Bliu Bliu is intuitive and it does adapt automatically at your level.

Soy milk

soy Milk - Bliu BliuSoy Milk!

What if Soy Milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?
Gotta love it.

Language Nerds out there, do you know similar jokes?
let us know

 

What do we do with the words you know

Bliu Bliu: how does it work!

Discover how we select what you are reading and how this is going to help you learning/acquiring a foreign language.

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Science has already proved that we learn languages when we are exposed to messages we can understand and we are interested in (INPUT Hypothesis – Stephen Krashen). Bliu Bliu main goal is to find for you content (text audio video) EASY for you to understand and INTERESTING, RELEVANT, based on your personal interests or goals.

With Bliu Bliu you become very good at pattern recognition and after few weeks of using it the real language (from reality or movies or tv) becomes easier and easier to understand. Little by little speaking becomes easier. Even without active practicing (no speaking and no exercise) you will manage to acquire the language effortless.

Words you know

Anytime you tell Bliu Bliu you can understand a word, the highlight is removed. Bliu Bliu collects all these known words and searches on the internet for articles & videos containing mostly words you can already understand.

Try to pick a random text or video from the Internet, it’s very probable that you won’t understand what you are reading listening or watching.
On the other hand, if you train Bliu Bliu and keep telling the words you can understand, you get way better chances to understand the  articles/videos as they will contain a lot of words you can understand.

Predicted words (Bliu Bliu thinks you know these words)

So you told Bliu Bliu you know 20/200/2000/… words.

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Bliu Bliu knows the word you can understand, your level, the frequency of the words you know, topics you are familiar with, words you are having problems with, what other similar people to you are doing.

Bliu_Bliu___Krepšininkui_A_ Macijauskui_ir_jo_žmonai_Viktorijai_gimė_dukrytė-2
This is how Bliu Bliu predicts more and more words you might know and understand –  Bliu Bliu highlights them in orange.
If you don’t change the status of the words Bliu Bliu will keep them predicted as known, so they will pop up more frequently. Click on these words to change the status if you understand or don’t understand them. All the predictions for many other words will be updated based on your choice.

Words you don’t understand…not yet

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Bliu Bliu also collects the list of words you don’t understand, words you explicitly told Bliu Bliu you don’t know or words Bliu Bliu predicts you don’t understand yet, based on their frequency in the language or you not being familiar with the topic or Bliu Bliu knowing that similar students have been struggling already with these words.

We try to find content with only few unknown words, to make sure that you will still be able to understand the content you are consuming and maybe, hopefully, understand the meaning of these unknown words from the context.

How we make sure you learn new words

Bliu Bliu constantly exposes you to the language you are trying to learn. Even if we would use 100% of words you already know, your level will improve tremendously. Comprehension is the key (Stephen Krashen has been studying and proving this).

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Bliu Bliu aim is to expose you to new words in a gentle way. When Bliu Bliu predicts you will understand a new word, this is when ideally you will be exposed to it for the first time. Sometimes this is not possible, because we don’t have enough of good content, but this is our final goal and this is what we are working on with our team.