New startup extends Estonia’s enviable IT pedigree
Eestlased Eestis 02 Apr 2014  EWR
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Transitions Online, April 2, 2014
Estonian startup Lingvist claims its new software can teach a new language in 200 hours by eliminating irrelevant vocabulary and cutting down on memorization time, TechCrunch writes.

The company has raised 1 million euros to polish what it calls “adaptive” language learning software. So far only beta sites for French and Spanish study are available.

“Most digital language learning tools are still using teaching methods that might as well be set in a physical textbook – i.e. they are not making use of the fact that the student is learning on a device that has computational power and the capability to record and analyze usage data,” Lingvist co-founder Mait Muntel said.

Although Lingvist does not offer speech recognition like some other language learning programs, its word-crunching power lets “students learn words that they’ll actually hear in the language they’re studying,” Arctic Startup writes.

Lingvist is only a small part of the tech scene in a country that produces more startups per capita than any other, according to The Economist. Skype, the widely used online calling service, was started by Estonian programmers in 2003 and acquired by Microsoft in 2011.

Much of Estonia’s government functioning happens online, according to an official website. Citizens hold an electronic ID card, can vote and file taxes online, and can start a new business almost instantly online, The Economist reports.

In addition, Estonia hosts the European Union’s large-scale IT agency and NATO’s cyber-defense center. For a few years, the country’s schools have been teaching coding to students as young as 7.

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