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New data shows strong appetite for UK language learning post Brexit

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May 5, 2017

London, 5th of May – Language learning specialists, Lingvist, report 91% increase in UK users post Brexit.

Language-learning app Lingvist today announces its latest data findings showing that the UK is making the right steps towards becoming a more multilingual society in the post-Brexit era.

Lingvist examined nine months of learning data before and after Brexit (August 2016 – April 2017) and found that Britons’ appetite for language learning strengthened despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU. According to data findings, there has been an increase of 91% in UK users since Brexit. The average user has completed 574 of learning cards in total, learnt 30 new words daily, and spent 18 minutes learning each day.

‘With Brexit around the corner, the growing concerns around how the UK will be able to bridge the language skills gap have been brought to the fore. Government statistics show that the UK is already losing £50bn a year due to poor language skills with an over-reliance on one language affecting business turnover, profitability and expansion to new markets’ said Lingvist’s co-founder and COO, Ott Jalakas. ‘Our data shows that the UK is on the right path to bridge the language learning gap. Never before in the history of language learning has it been so easy, quick and efficient to pick-up a new language. With the help of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, and delivery of these through mobile apps, knowledge is at the tip of our fingertips and it’s up to consumers and businesses to start up-skilling today.’

Looking at the data in more detail, the English-French course seems to be a British favourite with a 21% increase of learners post-Brexit, and the most popular language courses being French from English, Spanish from English, German from English.

However, according to Lingvist’s team of linguists and data scientists, the British seem to have trouble learning specific words across different languages. For instance, words that somewhat resemble the English word gobierno – government seem particularly tricky.

However, as Lingvist’s Chief Linguistic Officer Hanna-Leana Taoubi commented: ‘Most of the challenges we face when learning a language don’t exist as part of the language, they exist as part of ourselves. Learning new words in a foreign language is not difficult; having the consistency, perseverance and the patience is the challenging part.

There is no inherent talent for language learning, so everybody can do it, if they put their mind to it’.

Hardest words for British learners:

French
• fois (time) – it’s not that the word is difficult, it’s that the translation sets users on a wrong path. Fois is time in the meaning of ‘Il était une fois…’ – ‘Once upon a time…’ but users mistakenly assume it references time that we measure in minutes and hours (temps in French).
• avis (opinion) – it’s difficult for English speakers to understand why the French would need another word that means the same thing when they already have une opinion. However, it’s a useful word that is used to give someone’s point of view.
• faut (have to) – the verb falloir is a tricky one! It’s an impersonal way to say that something is necessary. There is no direct equivalent to it in English, so it’s easily mixed up with the verb devoir – must.

German
• gleiche (same) – three aspects come into play here: the word uses two consonant / vowel clusters (ei and ch), which may make it difficult to remember all the letters that are not individually sounded out, it must be correctly declined and in this case needs just an -e (not an -es or -en), and lastly, it is very different from the English word.
• Jahr (year) – This sounds like Ja (yes), yet takes the extra two letters. Users may also want to write Yahr or Jano.
• Platz (place) – Even many Germans make mistakes with tz or tzt or zt. Users may replicate English or Spanish and write place or plaza.

Spanish
• gobierno (government) – this is most probably due to spelling confusion (b in ES, v in EN), as both forms are rather similar.
• algún (some/any) – the shortened form of alguno may turn out to be a bit confusing for English speakers because it translates as some or any, depending on whether the sentence is a statement or a question.
• sois (you are) – the second person plural form of the present indicative of the verb ser may eventually become a complex term to assimilate by English users, as ‘to be’ translates into two different verbs (ser and estar), both with their own meanings and conjugations. So, the form you are has up to eight possible translations: tú eres/estás, vosotros sois/estáis, usted es/está, ustedes son/están.

-ENDS-

ABOUT LINGVIST
Lingvist Ltd. is an innovative language learning platform designed to help users learn quickly and effectively by tailoring training to their needs. The platform uses statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms to make language learning faster and more efficient. Its adaptive algorithm filters out anything a user doesn’t need or already knows, determining precise learning needs and customising the course content according to what they need to know. The platform has enabled over 500,000 people around the world to learn faster. Lingvist is both the provider of course content and the web-based technology platform through which it is delivered and is backed by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, early DeepMind investor Jaan Tallinn and the EU H2020 program.

https://lingvist.com/

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