As the workforce becomes more global, English is increasingly becoming important for technical professionals to understand. Many tech companies and university engineering programs expect their employees and students to have proficiency in technical English. Thankfully, there are a number of apps that can help non-native English speakers become more fluent in the language. Some of these language learning apps, like Duolingo and Lingvist, employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to make learning a foreign language easier, faster, and efficient.
A Variety of Language Learning Apps
Lingvist is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Available languages are English, French, Spanish, Estonian, German, and Russian. The free version of the tool will teach up to 3,000 of the most common words of your desired language. To create relevant courses, the app pulls data from online resources such as articles, film subtitles, and books. Lessons evolve as you progress based on mistakes you made previously. Lingvist also uses spaced repetition, a learning method in which harder challenges are used more often than ones you’ve found less difficult. It reuses words you’ve frequently gotten wrong and moves quickly past words that you’ve already mastered, so you learn efficiently. When you answer incorrectly, the app gives your clues for grammatical context to help you learn.
Duolingo is another free language learning app that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and gamification to make learning languages fun and engaging. The platform tracks your usage as well as your performance, and uses spaced repetition to figure out what challenges to give you. The app can also anticipate when you will forget something you’ve learned, and works to help you retain that information.
The app uses a machine learning function known as “birdbrain,” which can calculate how likely you are to get something correct or incorrect. This allows it to adjust the difficulty of a particular lesson. In other words, if the system thinks you’re going to get an answer right, it will give you a challenge that it estimates you only have about a 70% chance of acing. However, if you are doing poorly, the app will give you easier challenges. It is important to note that English courses in Duolingo are not available in every language.
Other popular English language learning apps include Hello English, Babbel, Memrise, and Busuu. While apps are a great way to aid learning, you likely won’t become fluent if you depend solely on them. For that, you’ll need to have real conversations with people who speak English. The app Lingbe allows you to connect with native speakers to have real conversations.
There are other great ways for engineers to boost their English skills. As discussed in a previous post, watching English TV shows, listening to English-speaking podcasts, reading books that are written in English, and listening to English audio books are all fun ways to learn English during your spare time.
Improve Your Technical English
Now available on IEEE Xplore and the IEEE Learning Network, IEEE English for Technical Professionals is an online learning program that uses real-life interactive scenarios to provide non-native speakers with a working knowledge of English techniques and vocabulary that are essential for today’s technical workplace. Designed to help learners master essential English skills, this mobile-friendly program is ideal for both working professionals, as well as students who are preparing to enter the field.
Connect with an IEEE Content Specialist today to learn more about this program and how to get access to it for your organization.
Interested in the program for yourself? Visit the IEEE Learning Network.
Protalinski, Emil. (18 August 2020). How Duolingo uses AI in every part of its app. Venture Beat.
Eileen, Brown. (16 August, 2020). Quickly learn a new language with AI-powered Lingvist. ZDNet.