The ability to communicate is an essential part of our lives. As we live in a globalized world, language learning has become more important than ever before. However, many languages around the world are under-resourced and at risk of being lost forever. In this article, we will explore how technology is helping to preserve these under-resourced languages and enable language learners to break language barriers.
Overview of language learning technology
Language learning technology encompasses a wide range of tools and resources that can be used to teach or learn a language. These can include software programs, mobile apps, online platforms, virtual reality simulations, and more.
One of the main advantages of language learning technology is that it provides learners with access to a vast range of materials and resources, including multimedia content, interactive exercises, and personalized feedback. This can help learners to improve their language skills more quickly and effectively than traditional methods.
However, there are also some disadvantages to using technology in language learning. One potential drawback is that it can be less engaging and motivating than face-to-face interactions, which can lead to lower levels of participation and retention. Additionally, some learners may not have access to the necessary technology or internet connection to fully utilize these resources.
Despite these challenges, language learning technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we teach and learn languages, making it more accessible and effective for learners around the world.
What are under-resourced languages?
Under-resourced languages are those that have fewer resources available for their preservation, promotion, and education. These languages are often spoken by marginalized communities, and their loss can result in a significant loss of cultural diversity. According to UNESCO, about 43% of the world’s languages are endangered.
The importance of preserving under-resourced languages
While many of the world’s most widely spoken languages, such as English, Spanish, and Mandarin, have a wealth of language learning resources available, there are also many underresourced languages that face significant challenges in terms of language preservation and education. These underresourced languages are often endangered, meaning that they are at risk of disappearing entirely within the next few generations.
Language learning organizations have an essential role to play in addressing this issue, by creating language learning resources for underresourced languages and promoting their preservation and revitalization.
Preserving and revitalizing underresourced languages is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to preserve cultural heritage and diversity, which is crucial for maintaining the richness and complexity of the human experience. Secondly, it can promote community empowerment and identity, helping to build stronger and more resilient communities. Finally, it can provide new opportunities for individuals and communities, by facilitating access to education, employment, and other resources.
Language learning organizations can play a vital role in promoting the preservation and revitalization of underresourced languages. By using technology to create innovative and engaging language learning resources, they can help to break down language barriers and promote cross-cultural communication, while also preserving and promoting the diversity of human language and culture.
Potential and shortcomings of ChatGPT and other large language models
Large language models like ChatGPT can play a crucial role in preserving local languages by enabling natural language processing (NLP) tasks such as language translation and text summarization. Language models can be trained on large amounts of text data in local languages, allowing for accurate and contextually appropriate translations. This can help to preserve local languages by enabling communication across language barriers and making local languages more accessible to wider audiences.
However, there are also some shortcomings to using language models for preserving local languages. One of the main concerns is the potential loss of cultural context and nuance in translations. Local languages often have unique cultural concepts and expressions that may not have equivalent in other languages, and this can be lost in translation. Another issue is the lack of available training data in certain local languages, which can limit the accuracy and effectiveness of language models. Finally, there is a risk that relying too heavily on technology for language translation may result in a loss of language proficiency and fluency among speakers of local languages.
Overall, while ChatGPT and other large language models have the potential to preserve local languages, it is important to be mindful of their limitations and ensure that they are used in conjunction with other preservation efforts. This can include efforts to promote and preserve local languages in education, culture, and daily life, as well as continued investment in research and development to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of language models for local languages.
How AI can be used to help preserve under-resourced languages?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize language learning and preservation. Here are some ways AI is being used to help preserve under-resourced languages:
- Speech recognition technology can help transcribe and translate languages that are not widely spoken.
- Machine learning algorithms can analyze and preserve large datasets of spoken and written languages.
- Natural language processing (NLP) can be used to develop language learning software that can adapt to learners’ needs and personalize their learning experience.
- Language learning apps that use AI algorithms to analyze learners’ strengths and weaknesses can provide personalized feedback and practice exercises.
Numerous organizations around the world are using technology to help preserve and promote under-resourced languages. Here are some of the leading organizations:
39 language learning organizations using technology to make a difference
The order does not follow a ranking.
NeuralSpace is an AI-powered language learning platform that uses natural language processing (NLP) to provide personalized language instruction to learners. The company uses its technology to create language models that can understand and interpret human language, enabling it to offer real-time feedback and personalized lessons to users. NeuralSpace’s technology is also designed to help learners overcome common language learning challenges, such as pronunciation, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar.
- Founded: 2019.
- Funding: NeuralSpace raised $1.8M in seed funding in August 2021.
2. Speech and Language Development Center
The Speech and Language Development Center is a non-profit organization that provides language and educational services to individuals with special needs. The center uses technology to provide personalized instruction to its students, including assistive technology such as communication devices and language-learning software. The center also conducts research on language development and provides training for educators and professionals.
- Founded: 1955.
- Funding: The Speech and Language Development Center is a non-profit organization and does not have funding in the traditional sense.
DheeYantra is an AI-powered speech analytics platform that provides insights into customer interactions. The company’s technology is used to analyze audio and video recordings to identify patterns and trends in customer behavior and sentiment. DheeYantra’s technology is used in industries such as healthcare, finance, and customer service to improve customer experience and increase efficiency.
- Founded: 2017.
- Funding: DheeYantra has raised $1.3M in seed funding as of August 2021.
4. SIL International
SIL International is a non-profit organization that provides linguistic research and training services to communities around the world. The organization’s technology is designed to aid in language documentation and preservation, as well as in the development of language learning materials. SIL International’s language research has contributed to the documentation and preservation of over 1,000 endangered languages.
- Founded: 1934.
- Funding: SIL International is a non-profit organization and does not have funding in the traditional sense.
5. Verbal Behavior Associates
Verbal Behavior Associates is a behavioral health organization that provides language and behavioral therapy services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. The company uses technology such as video modeling and teletherapy to provide services to individuals in remote or underserved areas.
- Founded: 1993.
- Funding: Verbal Behavior Associates is a private company and does not have funding in the traditional sense.
6. Predictum Inc.
Predictum is an AI-powered data analytics company that provides predictive modeling and forecasting services. The company’s technology is used in industries such as finance, healthcare, and manufacturing to optimize decision-making and improve business outcomes.
- Founded: 2012.
- Funding: Predictum has raised $1.1M in funding, with its most recent funding round being a seed round in 2019.
7. Wellspring Educational Services Inc.
Wellspring Educational Services is a non-profit organization that provides language and educational services to individuals with special needs. The organization’s technology is used to provide personalized instruction to students with speech and language disorders, autism, and other developmental disabilities. Wellspring uses technology such as interactive whiteboards, iPads, and computer-based programs to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment for its students.
- Founded: 2007.
- Funding: Wellspring Educational Services is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and grants to support its operations.
Saarthi.ai is an Indian startup that uses AI technology to help people learn and improve their language skills. The company’s language learning platform uses speech recognition and natural language processing to analyze a user’s speech and provide feedback on their pronunciation, intonation, and grammar. Saarthi.ai’s technology is designed to be accessible and affordable, making it an ideal solution for individuals and businesses looking to improve their communication skills.
- Founded: 2018.
- Funding: Saarthi.ai has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from investors including 3Lines Venture Capital and other angel investors.
9. Lilt Inc.
Lilt is a language translation platform that uses AI technology to improve the speed and accuracy of translations. The platform combines machine translation with human editing to produce high-quality translations at a faster rate than traditional translation methods. Lilt’s technology is used by businesses and organizations to translate documents, websites, and other content.
- Founded: 2015.
- Funding: Lilt has raised $37.5 million in funding from investors including Redpoint Ventures, Zetta Venture Partners, and Sequoia Capital.
Appara is a language learning platform that uses AI technology to provide personalized language instruction. The platform uses natural language processing and speech recognition to analyze a user’s language skills and provide customized lessons and feedback. Appara’s technology is designed to be accessible and affordable, making it an ideal solution for individuals and businesses looking to improve their language abilities.
- Founded: 2020.
- Funding: Appara has raised $1 million in seed funding from investors including the University of Michigan’s Social Venture Fund and other angel investors.
Appen is a data annotation and collection company that uses AI technology to improve language processing algorithms. The company’s platform is used by businesses and organizations to collect and label data for natural language processing and machine learning applications. Appen’s technology is used to improve language processing applications in industries such as healthcare, finance, and e-commerce.
- Founded: 1996.
- Funding: Appen is a publicly-traded company on the Australian Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of approximately $3.8 billion AUD.
12. Omniscien Technologies (formerly Asia Online)
Omniscien Technologies is a language technology company that provides translation, localization, and natural language processing services. The company’s technology uses AI and machine learning to improve the accuracy and efficiency of language processing. Omniscien’s technology is used by businesses and organizations in industries such as e-commerce, finance, and healthcare.
- Founded: 2007.
- Funding: Omniscien Technologies is a privately-held company and has not disclosed its funding information.
13. Compris Technologies Corp
Compris Technologies is a language technology company that provides translation and localization services for businesses and organizations. The company’s technology uses AI and machine learning to improve the accuracy and efficiency of translations. Compris’ technology is used by businesses in industries such as e-commerce, finance, and healthcare.
- Founded: 2003.
- Funding: Compris Technologies is a privately-held company and has not disclosed its funding information.
14. Korembi International | Learn Endangered Languages
Korembi International is a language learning platform that focuses on preserving endangered languages. The platform uses AI technology to provide personalized language instruction and create a community of learners and speakers. Korembi’s technology is designed to be accessible and affordable, making it an ideal solution for individuals and organizations looking to preserve endangered languages.
- Founded: 2018.
- Funding: Korembi International is a privately-held company and has not disclosed its funding information.
15. Kamusi Project International / USA
The Kamusi Project is a non-profit organization that provides a free online dictionary for over 20 languages. The organization’s technology is used to collect and curate linguistic data from a variety of sources to create a comprehensive and accurate dictionary. The Kamusi Project’s dictionary is used by language learners, researchers, and other individuals looking to improve their language skills.
- Founded: 1994.
- Funding: The Kamusi Project is a non-profit organization and relies on donations and grants to support its operations.
16. Raising A Reader
Raising A Reader is a non-profit organization that uses technology to promote early literacy and language development in young children. Their program uses a digital platform to provide families with access to a library of books and learning resources in multiple languages. They also provide training for educators and parents on how to use the platform effectively.
- Founded: 1999.
- Funding: Raising A Reader has received funding from various sources, including government grants and private donations.
17. WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment)
WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) is an organization that develops assessments and standards for English language learners (ELLs). They use technology to provide online assessments that measure students’ proficiency in English and provide educators with data to support their instruction.
- Founded: 2002.
- Funding: They are funded by fees from member states and schools that use their assessments and services.
18. Reverie Language Technologies
Reverie Language Technologies is a language technology company that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to develop language solutions for businesses and individuals. They offer a range of services, including language translation, localization, and transliteration, as well as multilingual search and voice recognition.
- Founded: 2009.
- Funding: Reverie Language Technologies has received funding from investors such as Aspada Investment Company and Qualcomm Ventures.
Duolingo is a language-learning platform that uses gamification and artificial intelligence to make language learning more engaging and effective. Their platform offers courses in over 40 languages and uses adaptive technology to personalize learning for each user. Duolingo was founded in 2011 and has received funding from investors such as CapitalG and Kleiner Perkins.
- Founded: 2011.
- Funding: Duolingo has received funding from investors such as CapitalG and Kleiner Perkins.
20. Gemiini Health
Gemiini Health is a healthcare technology company that uses video-based therapy to support individuals with communication and developmental challenges. Their platform offers personalized therapy sessions that use video modeling to teach language and social skills.
- Founded: 2016.
- Funding: Gemiini Health has received funding from investors such as Two Sigma Ventures and New Atlantic Ventures.
21. Haskins Laboratories, Inc.
Haskins Laboratories, Inc. is a non-profit research institute that focuses on language, speech, and reading development. They use technology to study the neural basis of language processing and to develop innovative approaches to language and literacy intervention.
- Founded: 1935.
- Funding: Haskins Laboratories, Inc. has received funding from various sources, including government grants and private donations.
22. Transparent Language
Transparent Language is a language technology company that offers a range of language learning and translation tools for individuals and businesses. They use technology to develop online courses, mobile apps, and language software that use gamification and machine learning to make language learning more engaging and effective.
- Founded: 1991.
- Funding: Transparent Language has received funding from investors such as ABS Capital Partners.
gnani is a language technology company that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to develop conversational AI solutions for businesses. They use technology to create chatbots, voice assistants, and other AI-powered tools that can help businesses improve customer engagement and support.
- Founded: 2018.
- Funding: gnani has received funding from investors such as Exfinity Ventures and Haptik’s Aakrit Vaish.
24. Profesional independiente
Profesional independiente is a language services company that offers translation, interpretation, and language consulting services to businesses and individuals. They use technology to provide remote interpreting and translation services, as well as online language courses and training programs.
Syntiant is a semiconductor company that develops low-power AI chips for edge devices. They use technology to create chips that can process audio and other sensory data in real-time, enabling devices to recognize and respond to voice commands and other inputs.
- Founded: 2017.
- Funding: Syntiant has received funding from investors such as Applied Ventures and Intel Capital.
26. ProLingua International
ProLingua International is a language services company that offers translation, interpretation, and localization services to businesses and organizations. They use technology to provide customized language solutions for their clients, including machine translation and software localization.
27. Carousel of Languages
Carousel of Languages is a language education company that uses technology to provide immersive language classes for children and adults. They offer classes in a variety of languages and use technology such as online resources and interactive activities to enhance language learning.
28. The Place for Children with Autism
The Place for Children with Autism is an organization that provides education and therapy services for children with an autism spectrum disorder. They use technology such as assistive communication devices and virtual reality tools to support language development and social skills.
29. The Hanen Centre
The Hanen Centre is a non-profit organization that provides resources and training for parents and professionals who work with young children with communication disorders. They use technology such as online courses and webinars to make their programs accessible to a wider audience.
- Founded: 1975.
- Funding: The Hanen Centre has received funding from various sources, including government grants and donations.
30. VOVA, Inc.
VOVA, Inc. is a non-profit organization that uses art and technology to promote cultural understanding and social change. They use technology such as virtual reality and interactive installations to create immersive experiences that educate and inspire.
- Founded: 2013.
- Funding: VOVA, Inc. has received funding from various sources, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
31. The Kusasa Project
The Kusasa Project is a non-profit organization that provides education and leadership development programs for young people in South Africa. They use technology such as online learning platforms and virtual mentoring to support student learning and engagement.
- Founded: 2012.
- Funding: The Kusasa Project has received funding from various sources, including corporate sponsors and individual donors.
Wikitongues is a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve, protect and promote linguistic diversity. The organization uses technology to collect and share video recordings of people speaking in different languages and dialects from around the world. They believe that linguistic diversity is a vital component of human heritage and identity, and their technology helps to preserve these unique voices and cultures.
33. International Literacy and Development
International Literacy and Development (ILAD) is a nonprofit organization that uses technology to promote literacy and education in underprivileged communities around the world. They offer digital literacy programs, e-learning solutions, and mobile technology to provide access to education and language learning tools.
MultiLit is an Australian-based education technology company that uses research-based programs and technology to support literacy development in children. Their programs include phonics-based instruction, reading comprehension strategies, and writing skills. They also provide teacher training and professional development to support educators in using evidence-based practices in their teaching.
- Founded: 1995.
- Funding: MultiLit has received funding from the Australian government and other sources.
35. A Foreign Language Service – AFLS
A Foreign Language Service (AFLS) is a language services company that offers translation, interpretation, and language training services. They use technology to facilitate language learning and training, including e-learning platforms, virtual classrooms, and online language assessments.
- Founded: 1993.
- Funding: AFLS have not disclosed information about their funding on Crunchbase.
36. The Lenovo Foundation
The Lenovo Foundation is the charitable arm of Lenovo, a multinational technology company. The foundation aims to empower diverse communities through technology and support sustainable development. One of their initiatives is the “Revitalizing Endangered Indigenous Languages” program, which they launched in partnership with UNESCO in 2019. The program uses technology to document and preserve endangered indigenous languages and cultures. It provides funding and resources to organizations and individuals working on language preservation efforts, as well as tools and training to help them use technology to support their work. The program also aims to increase awareness of the importance of language preservation and encourage more people to get involved in this important work.
- Funding: The exact amount of funding for this initiative is not disclosed on their website.
Memrise is an online learning platform that offers courses in various subjects, including languages. They use technology to make language learning fun and engaging through the use of gamification, spaced repetition, and native-speaker videos. Memrise has a feature called “Meet the Natives” where learners can watch and listen to native speakers use the language in real-life situations, helping to improve their listening and comprehension skills.
- Founded: 2010.
- Funding: Memrise has received $21.8M in funding.
Busuu is a language learning app that uses technology to connect learners with native speakers for conversation practice. The app offers courses in 12 languages and uses AI-powered features like personalized study plans and speech recognition to help learners improve their language skills.
- Founded: 2008.
- Funding: Busuu has received $26.8M in funding.
Babbel is a language learning app that offers courses in 14 languages. The app uses technology to create personalized learning plans for users and to provide real-life scenarios for learners to practice speaking and listening skills. Babbel also uses speech recognition technology to help learners improve their pronunciation.
- Founded: 2007.
- Funding: Babbel has received $81.7M in funding.