Back to the future for language teaching business
A Cambridge, UK startup is leveraging memory techniques inspired by Medieval monks to teach languages to an international client base.
Linguisticator Ltd is a language training programme development company that began producing programmes for specific languages in 2013 when the Ministry of Defence contracted it to develop a scalable means of English language training for North Africa.
The resulting programme, ELT Tiger, was trialled successfully in Tripoli with the Libyan military in 2013–2014.
Over the last year Linguisticator has completed five foreign language programmes – in Arabic, French, German, Italian, and Spanish – as well as courses in memory and a free course in time management for language learning. Linguisticator says it moves students beyond pre-constructed resources as quickly as possible through online video-based courses. It boasts that students can learn the entire grammar of a new language – as well as core vocabulary – in just weeks.
They say that this is accomplished through two key components: comprehensive language maps and the medieval technique of spatial memory palaces.
The company’s team of linguists, led by founder and CEO Dr Aaron Ralby (pictured), specially creates each language ‘map,’ which contains every pattern, variation and exception in the structure of each language.
Dr Ralby says the maps are not to be confused with the journey, which takes place in a student’s imagination.
Linguisticator’s courses are designed to teach recipients how to build a memory palace to remember all the details on a map. The concept of a memory palace was used extensively in the Middle Ages to memorise scripture and compose new texts.
Dr Ralby said: “As human beings, we’re very good at remembering places we’ve been and things we’ve seen. We’re generally not so good at remembering text. We teach students how to use memories of places and images to organise and store the textual material on our maps. By using space, what normally takes years to accomplish imperfectly can be achieved in a matter of weeks with full accuracy.
“Building a memory palace is also a lot of fun. It allows us to take the hardest and most important part of language learning and make it simultaneously accessible and enjoyable.”