This week, we take a hands-on look at the language learning app is a free web app, Chrome extension and mobile app for Android and iOS that provides quick tools to turns everyday digital content into a way to learn a new language, build vocabulary and, perhaps most importantly, retain that knowledge.

The language learning system currently works for 10 languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese, and the startup just launched a Spanish-native version of the iOS app late last week.

The app (and eponymous startup behind it) was founded to use the web to provide an immersive learning experience for any level of learning, grabbing news material online and turning it into bite-sized language lessons, while also acting as a translation service with a personalized dictionary built-in. includes audible pronunciations, multiple definitions in the native language, and a persistent profile system that syncs across your devices, tracking your progress and helping you spend a little extra focus on the more troublesome terms in your acquired vocabulary.

The idea is to use this digital personal language assistant to learn new words or refresh your memory on previously learned words in short bursts on-the-go, since real life language learning for most people who are out of school doesn't lend itself to structured, classroom-like lengthy sessions. As's CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Jan Ihmels wrote in a release to Latin Post, "We don't all have ages to devote to foreign language study and more often than not you're probably better off reading articles which light up your brain in a much more complex and long-lasting way than drilling vocabulary. We help you do both." 

As a mobile app, is a little less versatile than its Chrome extension, which can turn any web experience -- Facebook browsing, Google News, etc. -- into a chance to learn new words. Finding definitions and pronunciations is pretty much as easy as point and click.

That ambient, always-available learning capability isn't quite there yet on mobile. Instead, on mobile keeps the learning to small bits of news articles, listed by difficulty and subject, but the point and click vocab-discovery function and retention exercises remain the same, as does's emphasis on learning with real-world digital content.

Of course, isn't the only digital language-learning tool on the market. Duolingo offers more language options and perhaps the best gamification of language learning that you can get for free, while Rosetta Stone offers one of the most comprehensive suite of digital multimedia language learning tools, for those who can afford the price. But both of those systems put the focus on set learning sessions using prepared materials, rather than the mix of discovery, reference and repetition that the immersive "personal assistant" approach of uses.

A Digital Tool Enhancing Immersive Bilingual Learning

Anyone familiar with learning a second language knows that immersion is the best method to learn. It's the idea behind many study abroad programs: being completely surrounded by foreign language gives you fewer occasions to default back to your native tongue, which means more practice and less opportunity to forget words you've just learned.

But "immersion" doesn't mean automatic or easy, and the practical linguistic reality for those living in acculturating Latino families in the U.S., especially multi-generation households, isn't as clear-cut as a study abroad program -- especially when you throw digital technology in the mix.

The most recently available data from the U.S. Census in 2012 reveals that 38.3 million U.S. residents above the age of 5 live in a home where Spanish is spoken, which is an increase of 121 percent since 1990 -- and nearly four out of five Latinos spoke Spanish at home. While more than half of those from Spanish-speaking homes spoke English very well, bilingual education for those who are out of school or who made the switch later is still a challenge.

Now, with both native-language versions of the app available in either English or Spanish, "directly addresses the needs of the bilingual Spanish/English population in the U.S.," wrote Meredith Cicerchia, Director of Communications and E-Learning for, to Latin Post.

Tap That App

Whether as a tool to help a grandparent learn English, a way to spruce up on your second language in your spare time, or as a method to identify and collect a personal dictionary made up of words you want to master, you should check out the free app.

And if you use Google Chrome for desktop, definitely try out the extension, which can turn browsing the web into a learning experience at any time.