It was an exciting evening filled with humour, wit and wonder as students and professors listened to Luis von Ahn, the creator of duolingo – a free language learning platform (now has an app too) that has over 110 million users worldwide ranging from the poor in developing countries to Bill Gates (yes you read that right!).
The idea came to him when he saw that more than 1.2 billion people around the world learn a foreign language to get a better job and income but it was quite expensive. So he created duolingo with his PhD student (Luis is a professor of CS at Carnegie Mellon University in USA). He shared that they created it like a game where you keep unlocking different levels so that people enjoy and stay motivated. They also use extensive data analytics from their users to improve the language learning experience – for example to choose whether to teach plurals before adjectives or vice-versa. The session was quite interactive and when somebody asked whether Luis had himself learnt any language using duolingo – he said Portugese and shared how he spoke Portugese in front of 1000 people in Brazil! The event was a delight as were the snacks thereafter.