Who are we and what are we doing?
Pai Language Learning was set up in April 2019 by Josef Roberts and Simon Parry-Williams, who met while studying for MBAs and MAs in Bangor University. Josef had spent the previous decade teaching languages, learning languages, and most importantly teaching himself languages, and wanted to create a product designed to help people teach themselves a language on their own terms, and Simon was looking to create a startup in Wales to help develop the local economy, as well as do something good for the world at the same time.
After talking about each other's ideas, the two decided to work together to create Pai Language Learning, a platform that provides language learners everything they need to teach themselves any language, whilst at the same time supporting smaller languages. Both founders were born and live in Wales, speak Welsh, and see the importance in preserving and promoting minority languages around the world, and wanted to integrate this into the business.
What's the method?
Pai Language Learning's approach is based around a data-based approach to language learning. We see the language learning experience as a process that can be optimised.
Fundamentally, in order to speak a language, people need to know vocabulary and structures with which to use that vocabulary. These need to first be memorised, and then naturalised, in order to be used correctly. There is no point memorising vocabulary if you cannot use it!
By using the internet to collect text data from the public domain in different languages, and then using statistical analysis on these corpora, we can organise vocabulary and grammatical structure according to frequency. This allows us to provide everything you need to know in order to attain fluency. The top 5000 words, and roughly 100-200 grammatical structures gives you roughly 95% of a language's most common elements. By working through the lists in frequency order, you can ensure that you are using your learning time in the most efficient way. We believe strongly in empowering the user to teach themselves how to teach themselves, and believe that most people believe they struggle to learn languages because of their previous experiences with parochial learning systems - where the teacher believes they know the best way to learn a language, and that this method is the best way for everyone.
We do not believe that is the case. Everyone has their own best way of learning. Discovering this method is one of the most rewarding parts of language learning.
In order to empower the learner, we provide various 'modules' for the learner to use in conjunction with the content, such as timed repetition flashcards, image recognition, sentence construction, amongst others, and give the power to learners to control the method, the speed and the amount they learn in a particular session. Although we are currently researching different methods, we want to hear if you have ideas for further modules, as we want to provide as many activities as possible to help people learn languages in the best way for them.
Due to the way the content is created and provided, we can provide our courses through the medium of any of the other languages we offer. We don't believe that speaking a smaller language should limit your access to material to learn others.
Likewise, given the quantification of what it takes to reach fluency, it's easy to track your progress in different languages, and monitor your progress to see what works best for you, as well as provide estimates for how long it will take you to reach fluency in a different language.
What if you already speak a language and want to improve it? You can use the frequency system to "spot-check" gaps in your knowledge, and fix the most common mistakes and gaps in vocabulary and grammar first, allowing for greatest improvement in the shortest period of time.
Feel like you need to know more vocabulary in certain areas, such as business, history, or politics? All of our vocabulary is tagged by semantic category, allowing you to focus on, or prioritise learning them, letting you control your experience.
As well as providing this fundamental knowledge, we believe that there are certain skills and information that if learnt, can improve your ability to learn all languages. We call these 'Meta-skills' and provide them for free, to everyone, through our blog.
We are also working on media to help improve the naturalisation process. By comparing your progress to content we release, we can grade it by difficulty for you, ensuring that the media you absorb in your target language is reinforcing the words you just learnt.
We believe that smaller languages have just as much to offer humanity as larger ones. As such, we aim to release courses on as many of these smaller languages as possible. In order to provide these courses to as many people as possible however, we need to create courses for larger languages as well.
Due to the often poorly documented nature of smaller languages, we cannot rely on volunteers alone to create our courses. We are a business, and require money to function ethically - we want to create partnerships with communities who speak minority languages, and provide regular, well-paid work for people in these communities to promote their language. As such, we will be charging £5/month for access to all of our language courses. Although most of our income will be reinvested into creating and documenting minority languages and growing the team to create a great product, we aim to use 10% of our profits to create and donate material to help promote minority languages across the world. This can include the creation and donation of children's books, text books and other material to these communities, or using these funds to help the education system promote literacy in smaller languages. Please contact us if you know where this money could go!
We look forward to you joining us on this journey!