Hello! I’m your new English tutor

That’s the marketing slogan for a new app called, Infinite English. It promises “infinite patience, infinite feedback, infinite progress, infinite content, anywhere, anytime.”  It so happens that I recently bumped into Jeffrey Cichon, the VP of Business Development at Infinite English in Seoul at the 2nd World Congress for Extensive Reading and asked him to spill the beans for an exclusive for DMLL. You are now privy to some hot-off-the-press news.

VOCEY

The app, now available on both iOS and Android systems, asserts that it’s a “whole new way to learn English.” Based on the pedagogy behind the Natural Approach, a statement  made on the supporting website says that 30 years of research has shown that “extensive reading with immediate feedback is the surest and fastest way to develop fluency and conversational language.” The company, Vocefy, further states that this app has been modelled “in the manner in which a student would practice and interact with a live native English tutor.” The app primarily allows for reading, listening and pronunciation practice as well as offering immediate feedback in the form of a virtual animated tutor named, Vocey (watch out, Siri, new girl on the block).

The app works like this: the user chooses (copies) written content from anywhere on the web. It could be an entire article, a single paragraph or one sentence. The text is then pasted into the app as a new Story and uploaded to a cloud for processing. Once uploaded the user has multiple options. You can read your content aloud and the app will record your voice and then provide fluency and pronunciation feedback; you can have Vocey (the blue-eyed digital tutor) read the content to you and listen to her pronunciation; you can see definitions for any vocabulary items and you can also have those same vocabulary items translated in any of the 64 available languages.  There is also an administrator role that allows teachers to assign content to their classes.

A write-up on this app had been sitting on my back burner for a couple of weeks; however, like most of you, I had too many immediate obligations on my plate to deal with, so I let it simmer.  Well, lo and behold, two weeks ago I was in Seoul to present at the 2nd World Congress on Extensive Reading when my eye caught sight of a tall orange banner at the end of a narrow hallway marked ‘Infinite English’. Hello and welcome to the front burner.

I had a few minutes before my own presentation so I strolled down; iPhone in hand and a hundred questions in my head. I introduced myself, proffered my business card, explained my DMLL obligation and met Mr. Jeffrey Cichon, the VP of Business Development at Infinite English. Instead of attempting an interview, I decided to let him give the spiel himself:

So, what do you think?  Can Vocey help your students?  I’m personally willing to give it a go for some of my classes but I would be more interested in hearing what you think.  Have any of our loyal readers out there downloaded the app and tried it?  I know Mr. Cichon would be keen to hear from you.

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