Comfort, Shyness, Confidence and Conversational Mobile ESL Simulations

A consistent theme we’ve been hearing from ESL Teachers is how they feel that our conversational simulations offer a very strong value to their students who need to overcome their initial hesitation and fear of conversing in another language.

It’s difficult to put a value on this feature.  It’s not easily quantifiable (i.e. “we can increase a student’s confidence by over 50%!  This just can’t be measured.) – Therefore, it’s more of an impression that is being conveyed to us  — indicating that our platform provides a solution to a rarely addressed problem other curriculum materials don’t tackle.

It’s the essence of why “simulations” are exceptionally valuable — even if we can’t pinpoint the precise value-add they offer.  We’ll never know what percentage of “conversational confidence” an application may result in….but, we do know that our conversational ESL simulations make a difference, both for teachers and learners.


Conversational ESL Apps now in Intel’s APPup Store (Windows)

We have now released our “build once” conversational ESL apps on Intel’s APPup store for Windows devices.

Here’s are the Links:

APPup appear to have a strong commitment to educational content — We’re pleased to be flowing through their channel, in addition to mobile web, Android, and NOOK.

Conversational ESL – Students and Teacher Feedback

We were extremely pleased to receive feedback from a University-level Professor, who teaches English as a Second Language privately as well as at the University.

As we consider the niche, complementary value the mobile ESL conversational simulations fulfill, this kind of feedback is invaluable — We look forward to hearing from more Teachers and Students with regard to how they are applying our simulations. . .while it’s difficult to put a price-tag on “such products can help them feel more relaxed” - that statement was exceptionally encouraging.  That is the underlying Mission of our ESL conversational simulations — It was nice to hear they are succeeding.

I’ve tried your programme with my university and private students. All my students liked it, especially the dialogue in the pizzeria (I don’t know why, I guess it seems more useful for them). 

(The Students) noticed that it works even if they make spelling mistakes, which is great because a lot of programmes don’t accept wrong spelling. And that IS often a problem for our students. I have some very shy students who find it difficult to talk to real people, even if they are their groupmates. Such products can help them feel more relaxed.

To my mind, topics which would be interesting for… learners are: travelling, cafes/restaurants, hotels (booking, checking in, problems, checking out), asking the way, shopping, problems with goods and service (complaining), telephone conversations, etc.

Personally, I like your programme very much, all my students got involved, nobody was indifferent.

(this) was useful for me too, I was able to follow the students’ conversations and saw their problems…
Thank you for your product and your efforts!

Mobile ESL – Expanding Distribution Channels, Tablets too

Our conversational ESL simulations are built for mobile web — inclusive of WAP to HTML and HTML.5 Browser experiences on over 9000 devices.

But, hey, people want “Apps.”

Our simulations were ported to ANDROID — and, we’re surprised that ANDROID traffic now makes up apx. 50% of our user base.

This past week we have added the capability to release our apps on:  Intel’s appUP (Windows Mobile and Tablets), MEEGO (Nokia) as well as Barnes and Noble’s NOOK device.  Additionally, we’re running tests to stream our interactive pages through an IM chat client (which looks awesome!).

Basically, we are device and OS agnostic — We are aiming for a “build once – be everywhere” channel strategy.


ASIDE: cMail like this sort of makes our day (from a PhD/University Lecturer) —

I’ve just tried your simulations and I like them. That’s what some of my private students need before going abroad.
And I’m going to try them with my university students.

Storytelling, mLearning and Mobile ESL

We’ve been following the Twitter stream (on and off, not loyally!) for the past day from the #cooneyforum

This quote has been making the RT rounds and is something worth memorializing here:

Betty Cohen: 60% of retained learning is learned through storytelling


This is where our conversational simulations that are created as “scenes,” small stories, that are structured to be more of an interactive film script than solely “code based” solutions offers a qualitative difference.

Our simulations bring Users into stories and let them participate in the story-making.  Of course, we have to wonder if the percentage of retained learning increases, when the user participates in the story?

The Research on ESL Conversational Simulations

Sometimes we dig through online archives to see how ESL simulations have been studied and perceived at the academic level.  While this is a dated report, it appears to still hold true today – particularly for mobile engagement (which doesn’t appear to have been considered when this was written):



The most common view of simulations is that they provide a way of creating a rich communicative environment (a representation of reality) where students actively become a part of some real-world system and function according to predetermined roles as members of that group. More important, however, is the notion that a simulation becomes reality and the “feeling of representivity fades” (Crookall & Oxford, 1990, p. 15), so much so that the world outside the simulation becomes, paradoxically, imaginary (see Black, 1995; Jones, 1982, 1985, 1987; Taylor & Walford, 1978, for a more detailed explanation of the mechanics of simulations).

The innate benefits of simulations include: (a) fulfill students’ need for realism—a desire to “relate to life ‘out there’ beyond the classroom’s box-like walls” (McArthur, 1983, p. 101); (b) increase student (and teacher) motivation, especially for those in EFL situations who might see English as a deferred need at best (Jones, 1982; Stern, 1980); (c) dismantle the normal teacher-student relationship so that students take control of their own destiny within the simulation, leading towards “declassrooming” the classroom (Sharrock & Watson, 1985); (d) help the learner confront and identify with the target culture (Oxford & Crookall, 1990); (e) reduce anxiety levels which is essential to language development (Dulay, Burt, & Krashen, 1982; Krashen, 1982); and (f) allow teachers to monitor the participants progress unobtrusively.

Based on the engagement rates we’re seeing (anonymous logs), but, the time, page views, RESETTING and quality of the engagement, we’re pleased to be heading up new initiatives in ESL conversational simulations.  Some of the native-App level tricks and treats will further immerse the User in the simulation…

Stay tuned…

Mobile ESL and Demand on Android

Since adding Android apps to our mix with Mobile Web, we’ve seen a fairly consistent 40% Android OS analytic showing up.  We didn’t expect it to be so high.

While we are looking at porting to iOS and Win/Mob during 2011, the initial addition of Android was due to the tools that make this feature available easily, based on an initial mobile web build.

Currently, the Mobile ESL conversational simulations in release are in over a dozen Android App stores, including AMAZON.

So, why 40% if those same users could have accessed it on Mobile Web?  Well, some percentage of Android Users are coming from mobile web, but, the vast majority are downloading the Apps (and, they are keeping it active).  It appears as though people are Searching App stores almost as frequently as they are Searching Google on mobile?

With low-cost Android devices poised to saturate a number of global markets, we’ll continue to support our Android distribution channels.


Conversational ESL Apps Now In Amazon App Store

Our conversational ESL simulations are now in the AMAZON APP STORE for Android (but, still on mobile web too!)


AdTech, Publishing for Global Users, Enhanced mLearning Interactivity

OK, it was a really busy week — much of it centered around AdTech 2011 in San Francisco, where topics and solutions for increasing traffic (who are truly interested!), advertising and payment solutions were reviewed and content partnerships were explored.

One of the biggest take-aways was from mobile content networks who were pleased to “not be presented with another horoscope offering.”  We really like the notion of content partnerships with regional networks.  Details to follow.

As we review the increased traffic to the conversational simulations that are in-market, clearly, being in the ANDROID app stores has expanded the reach and demand for our products.  Currently, those experiences are nearly identical to the mobile web version.  As we consider how to enhance the platform for increased, intuitive interaction, we’d like to adhere to a model that delivers the same experience to mobile web users and app users alike.  One area we are focused on is creating a more robust UX with regard to graphical displays and interaction between the User’s chat input.   We’d like to accelerate our content into more OS formats and app stores, while concurrently enhancing the mobile web experience.

Stay tuned.


ESLai will be at AD:TECH San Francisco – Let’s Connect

Interested in connecting in person during Ad:Tech in San Francisco from 11-13 April 2011?

Want to learn more about conversational mobile marketing, entertainment and mLearning  from the team?  We’ll be showing some private Beta demos with new features and discussing how our integration with apps will further expand the platform.

Yes, most of the emphasis of attending is on the contentAI studios side of the coin with regard to mobile marketing and entertainment.  But, we’re also looking at mLearning relationships specific to that can reach a significant number of International users.

Pop us an email and let’s connect.