Keeping Languages Alive: Hungarian Language Learning App Drop Aims to Breathe Life into ‘Dying’ Languages Around the World
Hungarian-born, Estonian-based Gamification Language Learning App Drops announced this week that it will be rolling out Native Hawaiian as one of the 30 languages available on its platform.
As reported by TechCrunch, the creators of the app aim to offer a number of niche language options, to protect languages which are at risk of being phased out over time. Hawaiian is the second niche language offered, after the founders’ native language of Hungarian.
“We’ve watched the rise and decline of many niche languages — including our own,” Co-founder and CEO Daniel Farkas told TechCrunch. “We know how important language is in representing culture and connecting people, and understand the significance of bringing under-served languages in particular, to light.”
The company was launched in 2015 by Farkas and CTO Mark Szulyovszky and uses gamification through visual word games to help users learn new languages in a simple, but effective manner.
The startup differentiates itself from competition such as Duolingo or Babbel, by focusing on fun, friendly activities which are designed to fit into the real lives of real people, when on the metro, or waiting in line at the supermarket. The app focuses on teaching essential phrases, and useful vocabulary, rather than alienating beginners straight-off the starting line with complex grammar.
2018 has been a great year for Drops so far. The company has doubled its downloads on app stores from two to five million over since the start of the year, and it also recently brought on Drew Banks, former Head of International for Hungarian homegrown heroes Prezi, as its new Chief Customer Officer. With the new addition of Hawaiian to its roster, the company aims to keep on its good roll.
The app’s Hawaiian resources will teach more than 2,000 key words and cultural expressions, which can be used in day to day interactions. Native Hawaiian is often referred to as a ‘dying language,’ along with other native tongues such as Ainu from Japan, or Yagan from Chile. However, over the last couple of decades, there has been a movement to save Hawaiian culture and its native tongue, which has led to Hawaiian being referred to as a language revitalization success story, and a model for other endangered languages to follow.
According to a recent article by PRI, revitalization efforts for the Hawaiian tongue began back in the 1980s when a group of local language activists formed the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee to create new words for ‘modern’ inventions such as the computer and cellphone. These groups then went on to start Hawaiian language pre-schools which have grown in number and popularity across the Hawaiian islands in recent years.
Today the largest demographic of Hawaiian language learners are in fact children, which with the help of new games based tools such as Drops, should in turn see the language continue on for generations to come.