What is it like to use Flip Word for the First Time?
On 29 March 2017, I used Flip Word for the first time. So now I’d like to provide a short review of Flip Word, which is a Silicon Valley start up that calls itself the lazy way to learn a language. The start up was able to secure 15000 dollars in seed funding from the 2015 Cozad Competition. The story continues from there; now Flip Word is helping people learn nine different languages passively. Until the end of April, there is also a crowdfunding campaign. Yinghua Yang and Thomas Reese are the co-founders of Flip Word. After I had the privilege of speaking with them via Skype, I can see their enthusiasm is an extra factor that has helped carry their start-up to its present stage.
How does Flip Word work?
Flip Word is a free extension on your Chrome Browser. To get started, open Chrome, go to FlipWord.co and choose the language you are learning and create your settings by answering some questions during the set-up process.
You can choose from the following languages: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Korean, Italian, Thai and English.
The first time I used Flip Word, I created an account for an intermediate level in Mandarin Chinese.
It was that simple. Then I was ready to get started. It gave me some recommended sites and reading to choose from. So I opted for the Economist, and my macroeconomics professor would have been delighted. It turns out that I can access three articles free of charge for the Economist per week.
While reading about Article 50 and Brexit in the Economist, of the text on my screen about one percent of the English vocabulary was being replaced by Chinese words in simplified characters along with pinyin. Later I discovered the setting also allows me to choose complex characters, as used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
My second article was a New York times article about Crowdfunding and equity, along with the latest rules and updates about how there is now a different sort of crowdfunding where those who fund the start up also become investors with equity in the startup itself. This is a new territory in crowdfunding, so it is unlikely that the typical mainstream investment firms will allow you to use your IRA to invest in FlipWord. When I checked with another firm about the possibility of investing in FlipWord via an IRA account, I learned that the fees were quite high: about $300-400 for the initial investment and about $200 a year to hold the investment.
After completing the first two articles, I decided it that the Chinese words were too easy for me since all of the Chinese words inserted into the text were already familiar to me. So I upped the ante and adjusted the settings to say that I was advanced and that I tested three and five percent of the vocabulary to be in Chinese.
You can adjust your Flip Word settings as needed
With these new settings I found myself being thoroughly challenged. As I began to read an article on the Crowdfunder blog, I encountered both new and old vocabulary. This was more like what I really needed. Now that I had unfamiliar vocabulary in front of me, I discovered that when I hover over the new Chinese word, the meaning in English would appear.
Flip Word is likely to be a startup sponsor at the Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava in 2017. So we will be looking forward to learning more about its plans and I hope to see the crowdfunding project reach its goals by the end-of-April deadline.
The following day I opened my Chrome browser again and was delighted to see Chinese characters decorating an email that I had just opened. At first, it caught me off guard
because for a brief moment, I had forgotten that I installed Flip Word the previous day.
Once again I had the chance to engage in passive Chinese learning while reading this article on crowdfunding.
Then I decided to adjust my settings to German and read a couple of articles with the settings for advanced German vocabulary. It was fun and easy.
I am looking forward to more Chinese and German learning thanks to Flip Word, as well as potentially even more languages as Flip Word grows.
Update After Two Weeks of Using FlipWord
Now that a couple of weeks have passed since I first started using FlipWord, I must say I am hooked, at least to the Chinese. Rarely do I adjust the settings over to German. Since I also use ReadLang on my Chrome browser to read articles in a variety of languages, sometimes I need to turn FlipWord off because it wants to translate other languages into Chinese, such words that happen to be ‘false friends’ of English.
The greatest news is that FlipWord has reached its target of $50000 USD for its investor-crowdfunding campaign. So we will see FlipWord carry itself to the next level of development and features.
A few other features that I discovered since starting to use FlipWord is the ‘leader board’ as seen on the left. Where you can see how many points you’ve scored and see how active you are compared with others.
In addition, there can sometimes be context errors, and we are able to report those to help the Flip Word team make improvements by offering the right vocabulary and translation for the context. The first example of a context error I reported was the word ‘change’. The sentence in English was discussing change management and the kind of change that FlipWord suggested in Chinese was the ‘pocket change’ or ‘small change’ or ‘loose change’ sort of change. When we report context errors we can also earn extra points. It’s fun to be able to expand my Chinese vocabulary with this sort of casual learning. I hope you’ve found this review of Flip Word helpful. If you’d like me to review your language product or service, please complete the yozzi contact form and let me know.