October 25, 2013

languages. not always easy but lets try.

i saw a language learning site mentioned somewhere yesterday, called Bliu Bliu. so i go and sign up, its very sleek and 2013. they have 80 something languages so turkish was included, yay. however, after that i started having issues. i could not first figure out how the system (and learning) is supposed to work, it should be so intuitive that you just "get it" - but i didnt. i finally did get it, but i think the start could benefit from some instructions. also, what confused me a lot, i later realized was bugs or problems in the content. this is the main screen:

so i got the thing with the underlined words, but why is the sentence repeated? and why is there a "click here for more" at the bottom, in turkish (it is not a link, "done & go next" does that)? also, i had confidently chosen "intermediate" as my level but whoa, the sentences seem like they are from news articles. I understand bits and parts but overall find it very challenging. there is a drop down link for each word to check with google translate, but its useless. also pasting whole sentences in google translate does not help - and later i had doctor check some of the material and he found it really awkward as well. but basically it was out of context, news article content. so then i decide to change my level to "beginner" in the hopes of getting useful content to study with. no, i actually got the same sentences. by this time i realize there is no screening for the content of any kind. and in another view the source site is shown - and there is only one; www.dunya.com (a dry news portal).

as i browsed the service i understood its relying heavily on crowdsourcing, pretty common these days. users supply sources (preferably in the form of an RSS feed), and the engine inside Bliu Bliu will then...do its thing. that explains the "click here for more", as that is coming from the RSS news articles - but why can't the system get rid of it? also, there is a "drill a word" a option, which cleverly presents a word in different contexts (sentences) and then you can probably guess the meaning. i like the idea. i decided to try it out, the first word is "yılı". ok, well thats an agglutinated version of the word "yıl" (year). to be honest thats confusing.

i am an advocate of crowdsourcing and communities, but i feel like the company should do the groundwork. i wrote a few (ops!) emails to Bliu Bliu, as i kept running into different kind of issues and questions, first i found a contact email and later a support email...  they replied quick (very nice) and i was asked for more turkish sources. outside news portals i don't really know turkish websites that could have suitable content & RSS both, but i was told not to worry as any sources are very very welcome, the system will choose the right content. so i actually googled 3 RSS feeds for additional news portals, and in reply got a link to page where i should go paste those links myself (http://bliubliu.com/en/help-others/add-rss/tr/) - i was told they would be available immediately and Bliu Bliu would filter the good content for me. hmmm. so i should find my study material myself?  i am still wondering how the magical system works, as if they only have news articles, picking the "beginner level" stuff could be challenging, regardless of the algorithms...

the idea of learning from real content and have words repeated in different contexts until you understand the meaning actually makes sense indeed. but i feel like the system is still in the veeery beginning. why not start with a smaller selection of languages, perfect the system, and then grow? i am just disappointed, thats what i am trying to say. if i got started and felt good about it, id be happy to scour the web for cool stuff (i think), but whats my motivation now? i get that its a small start up with limited resources, but it seems they really want everything done from ground up by the users themselves.maybe thats 2013 too? well see.

EDIT: i tried to "learn" German and found it much better - besides the content there were additional functions, i even learned a new word! (geduld).

1 comment:

Claudio said...

I am claudio founder of bliu bliu
We are in beta. We are 5 people
I am the one responsible for the content and these days bliu bliu brings me around Europe constantly so not so much time to do my daily job. This is why I asked you to add the Rss because they were 50 and not 1 :)
But I will add them when I am back from Berlin and Dublin. We know things don't work perfectly but we are doing an amazing job. We improve constantly and learn fast. But we understand if one extra bug can kill motivation. We will wait for you down the line when the new user interface will be live :)