News & Analysis

Learning Languages with AI-led Loora

All the hype around GenAI was around simplifying grunt work. Now it’s all set to teach too

At a time when the debate around AI and its impact on jobs and spurious content is causing global lawmakers to enact legislation or actively discuss them, a new use case is emerging where this ubiquitous technology could turn into a language teacher. For now though, it is only teaching users English, that too to Apple users!

The company in question is Loora and the app is currently available only on the iOS universe. Founders Roy Mor and Yonti Levin hold the view that there is enough expertise within AI to be a reasonable option to scale up language learning – currently limited to classrooms where student-teacher ratio is often questioned.

It’s about being good versus being good enough

Anyone who’s used AI-led chatbots would know that translations done by AI aren’t rich from the point of lexicography compared to those done by humans. But, the cost savings that businesses can achieve with AI-learning could be a trade-off that managers may not mind too much. Especially, if it is enough to get their jobs done.

And that’s what Loora’s iOS app does by enabling chats with users where the chatbot provides feedback on their knowledge of English. In fact, the founders said they came up with the idea after being fed up with the language learning cycle, given the fact that most targeted beginners or casual learners while personalized human intervention remained expensive.

The idea is to brush up conversational English

Loora, which means language in Arabic provides AI-generated conversation topics and scenarios and once the user engages provides them with feedback on grammar, pronunciation and accent. There is also a facility for direct translation into their native tongue. Of course, Loora isn’t the first and may not be the last either to deploy this tactic.

Quite a few already exist such as the OpenAI backed Speak, ELSA and Preply. However, Loora claims that its focus remains around serious learners seeking to achieve fluency in English and that they aren’t really looking beyond for now.

And, how is Loora different from others

“Most other language learning apps on the market are limited and gamified. “Loora has built, trained and optimized its AI for the sole purpose of enabling users to achieve English fluency — far beyond casual conversational skills . . . We only use our own data and bespoke training and evaluation system for training and optimizing our models, resulting in continuously-improving retention,” Mor was quoted as saying by TechCrunch.

Additionally the app also targets specific learning use cases such as attending a business meeting, making a business pitch etc. Thus, Loora uses actual use cases across multiple real-life scenarios to brush up the user’s quality of English. Given that academic research hasn’t responded kindly to learning apps (for obvious reasons), it would be interesting to see how far and how quickly Loora moves.

The company raised $12 million in a Series-A round led by QP Ventures with participation from a clutch of others such as Hearst Ventures, Emerge and Two Lanterns Venture Partners. The company has thus far raised $21.25 million and aims to use the money to fund an Android version of the app as well as deepening Loora’s core AI technology and chat capabilities.

The idea in itself is noteworthy and the next few months of Loora’s journey could well prove to be the runway for other language apps to mushroom. Ones that can teach non-English languages to English speakers!