Last couple of days I was at LAX trying to go to Paris. Our flight was canceled three times, so we gave up our trip. Currently we don’t have a lot of French phrases for an airport situation, but we hope some new phrases will help people.
More phrases for an airport situation are available.
I love learning languages. I love that spark of understanding when I get my point across in a new language. I love how my brain settles into unfamiliar patterns as I discover how to say something in a language different from my own. I even love the silly mistakes early on, when I’m brave enough to speak and someone else is not afraid to correct me. I’ve puzzled at the contradiction of how I can love learning a language, yet it still requires great discipline.
With Mightyverse, we wanted to capture that simple joy of mastery and make it easier to get to those good feelings more often. We set out to design a mobile, social experience that would make it so we actually want to practice vocabulary, since it feels like playing a game, rather than feeling like homework.
Our first paper prototype was in Japanese.
After some gamification research, we designed our mobile software game, then before building it or creating a detailed visual design, we set out to create a “paper prototype.” This is a common software design practice where we actually construct the experience with drawings on paper and get people to look at and interact with a series of sketches, making it easy to get quick feedback on layout, wording, and a sequence of interactions. For our game, which relies heavily on the crowdsourced video phrases in Mightyverse, we realized we could substitute a native or fluent speaker of the language to create a real-world experience that mimics an online experience of interacting with our global language community.
We decided that we would not write a line of code until we could create a situation with our game where a group of people in real life had fun learning and speaking their learning language. We didn’t just want to add sparkles and unicorns to make it entertaining, we wanted to tap into the aspects of social learning that we believe will make the mobile game intrinsically fun.
Through several design iterations, we actually created two separate card games. The second one was much easier to play test since it required only one speaker of the learning language. We created the card game in three languages (Spanish, English and Japanese) with hand-written phrases and printouts pasted on index cards. We then went to the fabulous SFBabel Meetup, and asked random groups of strangers to play our game. It was exciting to see people having fun playing the game and we learned so much from their responses.
For our next iteration, with my friend Val, some kids and friends, we printed out our “helper” cards with instructions that were way too long and a little confusing…
But once we started playing, it was fun. It was amazing to see the transition from bored skepticism to laughter and playful banter in Spanish! We played for hours, with longer and longer stretches where everyone only spoke Spanish.
After many more sessions of playing the game, iterating on the rules and the cards, we have a system that really works. People have fun speaking Spanish, whether they start with little confidence and very few words or many years of Spanish classes.
We’ve designed a crowdfunding campaign as a way to reach language learners who can pre-purchase and play the card game. The next step will be to combine the approaches and make the game playable when there is no fluent speaker present using a mobile app, integrating our crowdsourced video phrases. If you’d like to review the deck, write us! We look forward to hearing from you.
This is really wonderful press for a project we are quite excited about.
I’ve always been fascinated by other languages and yet have never been able to discipline myself to learn another language besides English with any fluency. Despite years of French, my most passable second language is Spanish (which I speak like a not very intelligent 2 year old). Regardless, little snippets of languages I’ve picked up over the years have been so important to me. Saying “itadakimas” before eating, or “hi!” when you want to emphatically agree with someone as they speak has become woven into my vernacular.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all share each other’s poignant, wise, deeply felt expressions and take them into our own communications as we move through life?
This has been a driving force behind Mightyverse.
Imagine being able to say, “Wow, that’s extraordinary, thank you!” or “I love cheese!” in all 7000+ languages spoken today.
With community based language recording efforts by the Rosetta Project, Internet Archives (and in our small contribution, Mightyverse) that has some chance of becoming possible.
We can’t think of better partners in the social mission side of Mightyverse than The Rosetta Project and The Internet Archives. The Record-a-thon tomorrow is going to be a really fun start to that collaboration.
Japanese Relief Phrasepack is developed for all of the victims of the Tohoku Pacific Ocean coast earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011. It’s free. We were driven to do something for the people of Japan and this felt like a small effort that might help. The Japanese-English version is now available here.
Please Pray for Japan and the safety of the people.
Needless to say, this would be a tremendous tragedy for the world.
Fortunately there are very good efforts going on to grow the speaking community, including immersion schools, television programs and passionate individual efforts. And yet the resources on the web to answer the question “How would I say that in Hawaiian?” are still fairly limited. We are extremely excited to have worked with National Geographic Fellow, Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, on a project to record Hawaiian phrases into Mightyverse. We are currently at 109 phrases and hope to grow that number with the help of other native speakers. Stay tuned as we work to develop a collection of Hawaiian language that can be useful for people who want to have Hawaiian language and culture live on through them!
In the first 2 weeks that Mightyverse has been available in the app store, we’ve reached 128 downloads! Okay, that’s not 128,000, or even 1,280, but still, for our utter lack of any promotion (not even a tweet yet), it’s pretty good.
A milestone even.
Why haven’t we promoted the Mightyverse iPhone app? Because it’s kind of dumb actually. It’s more of an experiment than a true representation of what we want people to experience when they use Mightyverse out in the world. What is our goal with the current iPhone app and why are we subjecting the goodwill of our future Mightyverse loving users to it’s paucity of functionality? Well, that’s a very good question. At this point the version you can download and install for free today is a subset of what we feel people need to have a useful experience of Mightyverse. The beta users of the next version of the app have given us great reports on travels to Japan, Italy, Russia and Europe. But the next version has some really great features the current public version lacks. I really don’t know many ways that someone could find a use for the current version. However….if you are excited about Mightyverse, the app does gives you a portable experience of all of the phrases in the database, with the current featured phraselist prominent on the homescreen. It provides us an easy way to have a lot of different people discover our content and experience it on their iPhones. You can look up any phrase that you know we have in the database and play it right there on your iPhone. You can even email phrases that you find in the database to your friends.
The speaker is Fujita-san, the CTO of Knowledgelink, our wonderful Japanese partners. His voice is almost overwhelmed by crickets as we shot him in the little park across from KL’s offices in a little park in Akasaka section of Tokyo last summer.
We will be very active in the coming months and years to bring you wonderful phrases from many fantastic, expressive individuals. In the meantime, if you have a request for any phrases, or ideas for the site, let us know: email@example.com
If you speak several languages and would like to record phrases for the site, we’d love to host you at our studio in Sausalito for a session. We’ll buy lunch!