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Show HN: I am bootstrapping a video-based Duolingo competitor (seedlang.com)
33 points by superplussed 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

Hey guys, I'm bootstrapping a pretty ambitious language learning project, and would love to get your feedback on it.

I started working on it almost 4 years ago after moving to Berlin, and discovering how crazy-hard learning a language was, and how ill-suited apps were for getting students to any kind of conversational fluency. So I spent about 2 and a half years going through multiple iterations of the app while incorporating elements of different language learning techniques including audio-book courses, Youtube channels, Assimil books, shadowing, tutoring, and of course other apps.

About a year ago I started working on it full time, and started collaborating with a Youtube teacher to produce content. We ended up really stressing humor and fun as a guiding principle of content creation, and think in the end we've made a pretty unique app because of it.

Anyway, I'd love to get your guy's feedback on it! There is an walkthrough video on the home page if you aren't learning German and don't want to register.

Great idea. I moved to Berlin recently and I will definitely try it out to complement my lessons. Maybe you could try partnering with businesses that buy lessons for their new employees?

One tip, it would be great to have subtitles on the intro video so I don't have to annoy others with having the volume up.

Hi Matt, thanks for the feedback! We will definitely look at partnering with businesses and schools in the future. And I'll have to look into the subtitles on the explainer video, that's a great tip as well.

Once you give Seedlang a try, let me know what you think!

I’m learning a new language now after moving to a new country and found duolingo was difficult to follow due to the artificial voice.

Memrise has been great though, not only are the voices natural, the app shows a video of a native speaker speaking a new word.

I highly recommend Memrise (so far) for learning a language. The format just clicks for me.

Edit: I will try this out when I get to my computer. Anything to help me learn my new language :-)

Memrise has been an inspiration to Seedlang, but we have alot of improvements over it. Our videos are complete sentences, and they are also part of larger narratives (a story that we've written, or animated GIFs that we're describing). So it gives context to what is being learned.

Also, we have in depth understanding of grammar with each sentence. So if you don't know why a word has a certain ending, it can be clicked to get a full explanation.

But, yeah I'd love to know what you think of it. Hit me up at any time.

Looks like a great idea and after using duolingo to brush up on my Spanish I think you are right about trying another format.

I will leave a comment about the website: on my IPhone, the edges of the centered text are cut off, it seems like it needs to resized for mobile in my case.

Thanks for the feedback! Yes, I think it will be good to have some new ideas in the language learning app space.

I'll get that iphone display issue fixed, thanks for letting me know.

I like the idea, especially to "grammar in context" part. I'm working on something similar, using movie subtitles to provide good learning material (words and expressions) in context. Hopefully you will see it here within days, I just really should put a landing page together like yours. How did you built it?

This is a great idea. I was a Memrise user (back when I had more free time) to learn some Mandarin Chinese and I noticed that I retained way more information in terms of pronunciation when I was watching the videos than with just the audio. I assume it's because of being able to see the native speaker's lips as they speak, but I have no idea if that's really the case.

Hi jclos, yeah I think with just audio that we are just missing so much information and it kind of detaches us and makes it harder to retain information. Context is really everything with building memories, which is why I try to pack the flashcards full of as much context as possible on Seedlang. Not just video, but also the context of story, and even the context of grammar as you click through the subtitles of the video.

But back on the topic of video vs audio, have you heard of the McGurk Effect? If not, Google it and watch a youtube video where they demonstrate it. It shows how that the sounds we hear are actually hugely affected by what shapes that are made from lips. So the same sound will be heard differently just based on differing lip shape, it will blow your mind.

What is the plan for scaling additional languages?

Hi Frank, we have two main priorities over the next months: getting a mobile app built and adding other languages. There is some uncertainty as to exact timelines, but if you register we'll notify you when we start adding other languages.

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