App to help you learn foreign languages 'fast'

New York: Here is an app that would teach you a foreign language without eating up your precious time!

The researchers have developed the app to fill the time gap we spend waiting for a friend or co-worker to respond while we are chatting on GChat.

App to help you learn foreign languages 'fast'
Representational picture

WaitChatter, a Chrome extension for GChat, generates interactive foreign language vocabulary exercises, so you can make the most of your time as a conversation partner is typing out a response.

Carrie Cai, a PhD student at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, discovered that the average person spends up to 15 minutes a day waiting for replies, in other words about an hour and a half a week.

"But what if you could do something constructive with those moments like, say, learn a language? That's precisely what the new app provides," Cai said in MIT Technology Review.

And what makes the system effective is that it detects when you are waiting for an instant message.

"This integrated approach, which we call 'wait-learning', is far less likely to be perceived as time consuming or intrusive compared to using a separate learning app," Cai said.

Another key differentiator is that WaitChatter is embedded right within the chatbox.

With most other micro-learning apps, like Duolingo, users may feel as if they have to make a significant extra effort or set aside time to study up.

With WaitChatter, they don't have to close a window or even switch apps, since it's incorporated into the programme they are already using.

WaitChatter has been tested in two languages: French and Spanish.

In a two-week pilot study, WaitChatter users learned an average of four words per day. The system pulls words from both a built-in list and from the user's ongoing chat conversations.

For example, people discussing their pets might be quizzed on terms about animals, while those chatting about an upcoming Starbucks date will learn words for "coffee" and "tea".

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