MondlyAR, built on Google’s ARCore, provides users with a virtual teacher, called Mondly, who engages them in purposeful conversation on their phone while also giving the impression that learner and teacher are in the same room.
Speaking with The PIE News, Mondly chief executive Alex Iliescu said using AR was a natural progression for his company after an initial experiment with virtual reality failed to take off as expected.
“The problem is VR is not growing as fast as people would like”
“The problem is VR is not growing as fast as people would like because it’s difficult to remember where you put your headset, you have to put your device in your headset and all that,” he said.
“People want something that’s easier to do.”
Instead, he said using AR eliminated many of the accessibility and price barriers for users.
“It’s a lot easier to pull your phone and summon a teacher in your room,” he said.
Iliescu added that as well as being an immersive experience, MondlyAR emphasised fun, with the teacher presenting objects and animals with which learners can interact.
“The animals if you touch them they jump, or the chicken lays an egg. There’s a lot of cool stuff,” he said.
Currently, seven languages are available, American English, British English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German, but the developers expect to expand to 30 languages by August 2018.
The language learning app market has seen significant growth recently, as developers work to find the best way to engage learners and increase subscription rates. Iliescu said it was a golden period for those interested in developing language learning apps.
“I think language learning is somewhere at the sweet spot where people learn a language at any age. You don’t see that with [other fields],” he said.
“This offers us, developers, the means to develop and to experiment.”
MondlyAR is currently available through the Mondly app on Google Play, with an Apple version available at the end of March.