Whenever I hear someone recommend Rosetta Stone for learning a foreign language, I gotta admit, I cringe. There are a lot of reasons, but the least of which is that Rosetta Stone still seems very stuck in that 1990s version of software -- you know the kind that comes in a box, that installs in your computer, and only connects to the Internet in order to register your license.
Meanwhile, other language learning companies have blossomed, offering innovative sites and services that blend online and mobile learning, adaptive technologies, game mechanics, and social networking -- all of which demonstrates, I think that this is a sector of education technology with a huge potential.
One such company is MindSnacks, a startup that just announced today that it's secured $1.2 million in funding to help it build its mobile language learning games.
Currently MindSnacks has two apps -- one for learning Spanish and another for learning French -- available for the iPhone.
Although my French is pretty rusty, my knowledge of the language is solid, and even so, I found the games quite challenging and fun. This isn't a standalone language instruction offering, but it is a very engaging way to brush up on your vocabulary and grammar skills.
MindSnack's games are, as the name suggests, meant to provide quick "bites" of learning. It's a mobile version of flashcards, if you will, but the quizzing comes with a heightened level of speed and engagement. With the MindSnacks apps, you work your way through levels, unlocking more lessons, words, and games as you go. The French app is free, but you can upgrade to get access to more levels (and more games).
I'm hoping that today's funding announcement will help MindSnacks unlock even more games in more languages, available on other platforms. In the meantime, check out the app, and -- I dare you -- find me on the Apple Game Center and challenge my scores.