It was my birthday again this month, and as I’m getting older, it’s yet another time to reflect on the past and make important decisions moving forward – to be a better person and live life more fully.
Working at Fluent Forever: Getting Started as Part of the Team
At the start of this month, I officially joined the startup team at Fluent Forever, a language learning app, headed by Gabriel Wyner and author and polyglot who I respect so much. It was his methods from his book that showed me the way to teach myself Spanish a few years back when I was living in Chile, and I have used the Fluent Forever methods ever since.
This is the first time that I will getting back into the startup world, after my 2 year hiatus, after we sold and moved on from PeoplePledge, our medical crowdfunding platform which had had operations in Australia, Chile and the USA. I had spent several years to grow PeoplePledge, and I needed a break from the tumultuous and intense world of launching and growing startups. I had deliberately stopped working on any new startups since that time because my first child was born, and I wanted to dedicate more time on her and my wife. Not only that, I wanted to give more time back to myself, in terms of my health, my emotions and discovering more of my passions and interests.
So, my family moved to Taiwan so we could be closer to extended family in Australia and also so that I could explore more of my interests in learning Mandarin Chinese. I even became a teacher for a few hours a week where I would teach English to elementary and high school students at a private language school. I wanted to explore something unrelated to the tech startups and projects of the past. More and more, I was discovering my strong interest in the language learning space.
I actually started working with Fluent Forever as a freelance contractor since late last year, and have loved the work. As FF has been growing, they needed more web tech and marketing skills, and I so happened to have those skills, and that’s how my role evolved to now being a full-timer with them.
As a result, I left my job as a teacher. I’ve also stopped working as a freelance web designer and developer. I’ve also ceased my web design and online fundraising company, 3CK, that specialized in helping Australian nonprofits. My medical crowdfunding platform, PeoplePledge, already transitioned to no longer accepting new fundraising pages, so that is truly over.
I’m all in with working on Fluent Forever.
Bringing Tech and Languages Together
The team right now at Fluent Forever is truly a tech startup team as there are less than 10 employees right now, but the Fluent Forever company is getting a lot of traction as the app that we’re working on is currently the most funded app in history on Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding platforms.
I’m excited to get back into tech, and to use my tech skills to help improve language education, especially for those people who want to learn languages on their own.
After working as a language teacher for a bit, I realized that there truly are gaps in the way that languages are being taught in schools versus how people actually learn languages, and how our brains acquire them most effectively. For example, I was stuck teaching kids words from vocab lists of infrequent words that were irrelevant to the lives and interests of the students. This goes against the current research of linguists like Paul Nation, as well as Gabe’s Fluent Forever method, which demonstrates that it’s more efficient to learn the most frequent words in a language or words that are interesting and useful for your life, and to learn them in context.
I’m glad to stand by Gabe and the Fluent Forever team because I affirm that the methods that the company advocates truly use the best research and technology that is out there right now about learning languages. I’ve used them on myself for the past few years, as well as implementing some of the ideas with some of my students, and I have seen the results firsthand.
What’s really exciting for me is that I just dipped my toe in the water into the language learning space, when first I read and implemented Gabe’s books over the past few years, then became a language teacher for a while. I just wanted to explore what it was like, and discover more about my interest in languages.
I’m enthralled that I can now mix my tech skills from the past, and bring it together with my new passion for languages, as I work for Fluent Forever. No doubt, you’ll be hearing more from me about tech, languages, Fluent Forever, and how you can improve your language learning with our new app and other products.
I want to end with a quote from a Fluent Forever customer who recently said this, which really excited me about the work that we do, and reminds me of the importance of language education overall:
Just want to say the app looks great and congrats Gabe and the team at Fluent Forever! Your tireless efforts give the gift of communication and understanding, the key to peace and friendship.