Apps stores have quite a few language-learning tools to choose from, but a new one called Scripts claims to be the first multI-language app to teach how to write character-based language systems: tough stuff like Japanese Kana, Korean Hangul, and the traditional Hanzi characters used in Chinese and Japanese dialects.
Coming soon is visual, hands-on instruction in Thai, Kanji, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian Cyrillic, and Hindi.
Here’s a surprise stat hiding in plain sight. After Spanish, the second most common foreign language spoken in American homes is Chinese. It’s not a tight race (39 million Spanish speakers and just over 1 million speaking in Chinese dialects) but altogether Asians have been the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S since at least 2000. And for the many people who serve them, and as the world shrinks, there’s a growing need to learn the language.
Scripts teaches learners with step-by-step instructions how to draw the character with their finger on a smartphone. That physical, tactile approach increases retention and makes learning more entertaining, claim Scripts’ founders.
“As the world becomes more interconnected than ever, Asian languages in particular have grown in popularity. However, we haven’t seen a multi-language app that teaches how to write character-based scripts -- a crucial step toward mastering these languages,” says Daniel Farkas, a Scripts co-founder and CEO of Drops, parent of Scripts and another language learning app tool.
Drops provides language instruction by combining game-like word puzzles with mnemonic association, aiming to combine entertainment with learning.
Farkas and Mark Szulyovszky, the CTO, both from Hungary, were required to learn multiple languages before they could get jobs. So, in 2015, they built their own learning tool. Now, with headquarters still in Budapest but offices in San Francisco and elsewhere, Drops “teaches” more than 30 languages (Hawaiian and Icelandic are new.)
It claims it has surpassed 7.5 million download this year, up from 2 million a year ago, and that the app is something of a hot item in language-learning circles. (It’s called Drops because that’s how you learn language: one drop at a time.)
Using Scripts is free to start. Like Drops, Scripts gives you five minutes a day free, For unlimited use, a subscriber will pay $9.99 monthly, $69.99 yearly. For $199, a user gets lifetime use of both Drops and Scripts.
Marketing Scripts will have some unusual spins. Obviously, it’s not an app for the masses. Drew Banks, who is the company’s chief customer officer, says it’s just started an educator’s program to support language instruction around the world using its tools.
And in a shrewd, but gentle gambit, Banks says Scripts will “reach out to character-based calligraphy influencers to promote Scripts beyond traditional language learners.”