The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 7 @Linguist_CIOL FEATURES Thebig idea Q What is FlashAcademy® EAL? A A cross-platform English-language teaching tool. Our app can be used on a smartphone, tablet or PC. The version for schools encompasses curriculum-linked lessons and games, videos of native speakers to model pronunciation, and the world's first object translator – so when you point your device at an object, it identifies and 'translates' it. We cover 'survival vocabulary', such as 'teacher', 'toilet', 'help' and 'thirsty', and curriculum-mapped vocabulary, so children aren't bewildered in a maths or science lesson. Progress is captured on a dashboard so teachers can see how their students are getting on. Q How did you come up with the idea? A In 2013, an old school friend (Richard Allen) approached me with the idea for FlashSticks ® – a language-learning tool using Post-it notes. We were spending time in schools delivering those and developing an accompanying app, and we were surprised to learn that one in five children at primary, and one in six at secondary, speaks English as an additional language (EAL). Some schools have up to 70 languages – they had been using things like Google Translate. That's why we developed FlashAcademy EAL. It's been shaped by schools telling us what they need. Q Who did you work with to develop the app? A We've got former teachers on the team, as well as linguists, techies and designers. It's a collaborative process, working with schools and new technology. We've also had input from local authorities, support services and EAL charities. We spent about 15 months developing it, and launched in January 2018. Q How many people work with FlashAcademy EAL now? A We've expanded our team, with a former EAL teacher, an additional developer, someone to work directly with schools, and a number of in-house linguists. International universities send over translation students for internships, and we also employ remote translators all over the world. We typically have three linguists per language stem. Q What new skills have you gained? A We had to learn new tech, and rethink the pedagogy because there are some particular requirements in this area. For example, some people may be illiterate even in their home language, so we've introduced phonics and audio instructions to help. Q What languages do you cover? A We currently have 36 home languages, including Arabic, Polish, Urdu, Mandarin and Russian. We work closely with Birmingham Virtual School, who assist unaccompanied asylum-seeker children. One of the languages CEO Veejay Lingiah on building a transformational EdTech venture to support bilingual children's learning available is Tigrinya, because we met a particular group of asylum-seeker children with that requirement. Q What is the business model? A We're a limited company, part-owned by Birmingham City Council. Our business model is split across three areas: FlashSticks are sold internationally via retailers; there's the FlashAcademy app, which hundreds of thousands of people subscribe to; and FlashAcademy EAL and MFL are school licence models. Q What does the future hold? A We started in schools and we're now going into colleges and workplaces too. We recently won the Cool Initiatives competition and we're going to use the prize fund to expand. We expect to reach 50 languages by the end of the year. We're developing our Get-Give initiative too, so when a UK school takes out a FlashAcademy EAL licence, we donate the platform to an international school in need. COLLABORATION Veejay (left) with co- founder Richard Allen

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