Level Lang is a plugin that helps second language learners find entertainment media at their level to learn from. They really want to find this media because it’s keeping them engaged with learning for longer, they can’t easily find content they’re interested in at their fluency level.
People studying a second language need a way to find entertainment media to learn from because they can’t easily find content they’re interested in at their fluency level.
According to DuoLingo, there are ~2 billion self-taught second language learners studying the top 8 languages, with 1 billion alone studying English. The demand for language learning tools has increased during COVID, and is expected to double over the next 7 years from ~$14 to ~$28 billion (TAM).
These learners view online entertainment media (eg. YouTube videos, blogs, radio, newspapers) to keep up excitement about learning a new language, as well as to gain cultural/accent insights. This media is readily available online and provides learners with the ability to learn from content they like, instead of whatever they’re required to engage with via more traditional methods (textbooks, apps, etc.). In addition, while DuoLingo has ~50 million monthly users, YouTube has 2.1 billion. With more learners using this media to learn from than ever, now is a great time to help solve their main problem of accessing it at their level.
We know this is a problem because learners are willing to pay a lot of money for apps like LingQ, which offer human-curated texts and audio at specific levels, but the content is limited and not necessarily what users want to engage with. On the other hand, when learners spend time online searching for content at their level that would keep them engaged, this isn’t always successful and can waste time. Our survey data corroborates these findings.
User Pain Points
To gain data from second language learners, I used an online Google Forms survey that garnered 15 respondents, and conducted one-on-one interviews with another 4 respondents. The research showed that there are a few different types of prospective users based on how the respondents already use entertainment media to learn. The following are the two major pain points of all second language users polled:
- They waste time finding content at their level, leading to frustration.
- As beginners/intermediate learners, they very frequently can’t find media at their level that they’re also interested in.
- The majority of respondents found entertainment media useful to learn from.
- 74% also started using this media as beginners/intermediate learners, when they have limited knowledge of the language.
- 58% of respondents choose media to study from because it’s more entertaining than other resources (eg. textbooks) and 63% do it to gain cultural knowledge. This suggests a general curiosity and need to be entertained from second language learners.
- 58% of respondents quit learning a second language because they were bored.
Specific to learners using entertainment media, I validated the idea that learners weren’t finding fun content at their level with the following survey results:
Around half of the users engaged with this media once a day, which is significant compared to DuoLingo’s much lower figure of 3.7% daily average users.
Landing on the Solution
Based on the second language learners’ pain points, I wanted to work on the following features:
- Help users waste less time finding content at their level.
- Help users find content they’re interested in, at their level.
- In terms of modality, leverage existing habits/channels to access the desired media. The most frequently accessed media are videos and movies. We need to take into consideration which platforms are being used, and how.
- Make learning fun! Increase engagement and keep people learning language for longer.
We’ll know the product’s a success if we’ve created a solution that
- saves users time they’d otherwise waste trying to find content at their level to learn from that they’d enjoy;
- increases their engagement with the language they’re studying;
- provides additional knowledge they can’t garner from other resources (eg. textbooks, apps)
- if users see it as a viable replacement for competitor language apps like FluentU.
It would be great to have a follow-up survey to identify
- which video platforms are being used by learners (and how this differs by language),
- which second languages are most popular, and
- what the average learner experience is on these video platforms when searching for videos (what search terms they’re using, how they can/can’t identify language levels, etc.).
Product Manager Learnings:
The Co.Lab learning experience was very informative. It confirmed my passion for product management, while also made me more bold to dive into ideas and research regardless of perceived blockers. This confidence also extends to job applications and profile building, thanks to Atila and their great mentors. The biggest take-away for me came from peer-related reviews and the hackathon: I realized it was extremely useful to bounce ideas off of other PMs and have them critique my work. Additionally, designating work to others and having us play to our strong suits while keeping up with meetings is a key part of any PM’s job. This was apparent during the hackathon when developing a product as a team with a tight deadline: we collaborated well and I think we all produced something we’re proud of.