Two years ago, we recorded part of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in
English with multiple voices. With the help of various friends, we created
Spanish subtitles for the speech. On Jan 20, 2013, President Obama’s second
inauguration day, I wrote
about sharing this part of American culture with English language learners. I
was optimistic about race relations in America, yet felt that this speech helped us
remember our past and share that painful reality with people learning about our country.
Last year, with french
recordings of I have a dream, Marie Walburg Plouviez shared with us implications of
interpreting and how to convey the meaning behind the words.
With this year’s recording of I have a Dream in Spanish, we captured voices from all over the
world, crowdsourcing interpretations as well as recordings from old and new friends.
The interpretation of these words into another language causes me to hear the meaning in
a fresh and powerful way. We didn’t use professional translators, but allowed the
people recording the phrases to interpret them in their own words. Our friends M. E.
Stevens, Tania Waisberg, and Enric Godes suggested some of the more poetic
interpretations. Many thanks to everyone who participated (especially Enric and Bruno
for organizing the artist voices at Vasava!).
This speech has become almost cliché in English, but when I hear it in new Spanish words,
I hear the meaning reverberate in my mind with news from the past year. I hope that this
project helps Americans who understand Spanish to reflect on our heritage, and that
Spanish learners will be inspired to speak difficult truths.
The Mightyverse card game for learning to speak Spanish:
¡Dígame! is now available on Amazon.
¡Dígame! gameboard has
illustrations of gestures and phrases that help you play, as well as spots for the
You may be asking yourself, “Why are the Mightyverse developers spending time on
card games when they could be writing software?” or “Have they pivoted to become a board
game company?” Good questions, that we’ve wrestled with ourselves. The
answer lies in the fundamental goals of our company and our lean startup
approach. The origin of the card game was a paper prototype for our
To learn to speak a language, we must actually speak the language. But how do you
speak the language if you don’t already know it? Language learning research supports
that people learn best in an immersive language learning environment, learning grammar
and vocabulary by inferring patterns from the language we hear. One of the biggest
hurdles that we face as new language learners is to be brave enough to start speaking
when we know very little and may feel uncertain about the true meaning of the words we
speak. This is a huge barrier for most new language learners to overcome. ¡Dígame! came
out of wrestling with that challenge for language learning gameplay. We realized that we
could accomplish rapid iterations of the card game much faster than software and that
would speed up our design process. Over the past year, we have held dozens of play test
sessions with groups of friends, strangers, classrooms and families at all levels of
learning, from near-fluent to people with no prior knowledge of the language.
Our overall goals for the games include:
- validating the Mightyverse language learning model
- understanding what’s needed to make language learning fun
- developing a community of early adopters
- driving awareness of the Mightyverse brand among teachers and language enthusiasts
We designed the game to reflect the language learning model that we believe is the most
powerful and efficient way to learn a language. Each of the phrase cards in the game is
linked to a Mightyverse phrase video with a QR code. We have analytics in place to see
how and where those phrases are accessed.
With the first game complete after a considerable effort, it will be much simpler to
create variations across different language pairings. We have InDesign templates with
scripts to automate creation of the playing cards so that the production of the game can
be scaled more easily across other languages.
We are quite far along on a Japanese learning game for English speakers and an English
learning game for Japanese speakers that we have already started play testing.
We’re also hard at work building our mobile app that allows native speakers to
record phrases and share them with language learners. It is exciting to feel how our
momentum has increased with everything we have learned over the past year, working with
our growing community of speakers and learners.
We’ve had a lot of fun developing the game from it’s initial sketches to a
full fledged product. It’s been extremely gratifying to see how much fun people
have with it while learning languages.