Bliu Bliu Review – algorithm powered language learning!

by | Feb 19, 2015 | English, Product Reviews

Bliu Bliu mantra is ‘Learn languages while having fun!”. I did not find any big audacious claims to their effectiveness on their website (a breath of fresh air perhaps?). I am big fan of the concept that learning languages should be fun (and not feel like hard work) so the slogan certainly caught my attention. 🙂 So what is Language Tsar’s reaction to Bliu Bliu?

Method

Bliu Bliu starts by showing you the most frequently used words from that language and figures out via a five-minute test what you actually know or don’t know about the chosen language. Bliu Bliu then shows you a series of real texts taken from the internet that you should be able to understand. By clicking a word you don’t know, a translation will appear at the bottom of the screen.

Also certain words are highlighted (which Bliu Bliu’s algorithm has calculated are difficult for you personally). You can then select whether it an easy or difficult word for you, listen to the pronunciation and send the word to your favorites for future review.

The course contains both texts and videos from YouTube that also contain the scripts (so the music videos are a bit like a linguistic karaoke platform 😀 ). You can also download entire novels, jokes, Wikipedia articles, as well as a lots of specific topics like love, animals, fairy tales, so there is certainly plenty of diversity of content.

Bliu Bliu Books Russian

Section of the list of books available via the platform in Russian

The key feature of Bliu Bliu is that it selects the topic based on your level and learns from your behavior for future selected content. A rudimentary form of artificial intelligence? I think so and sifting through the mass of potential content in order to select the most relevant resources is certainly a challenge that computers will need to assist us with going forward. I am a big fan of this concept! 😀

I tested Bliu Bliu in a few different languages, like Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Irish and Catalan (these are languages I am currently learning and using as they are my weakest ones). The amount of content for well developed for Russian (as it is for English, French, German, Spanish and Italian) but for the other languages I tried it in it was more in his infancy in terms of content.

Bliu Bliu Interface

A screenshot of Bliu Bliu’s interface

Strengths

1. Fun to use – once you have interesting content for you then it is enjoyable and effortless to use and learn from real life sources that are being feed to you by the platform.

2. Easy access dictionary – by clicking the word, the translation appears automatically so it doesn’t break your train of thought or distract you unduly from enjoying the content.

3. Real life content – none of the content is artificially created so this is what native speakers of the language actually consume on a daily basis.

4. Range of languages – while the content is still limited in the some of the less popular languages, I was impressed that the platform is already available in Irish, Ukrainian, Catalan and Romanian.

Weakness

1. Voice recognition – not available.

2. Aesthetics of the interface: not a major problem but the design could be a bit sleeker and easier on the eye.

3. Pronunciation: the voice is machine generated and the natural intonation of the language is lost as the words appear to be spoken individually and not in a natural cadence.

Bliu Bliu Interface Dutch

Example of the music video interface for Dutch

4. Content: while I found the level of difficulty of the content to be spot on, it was not always of interest to me so there is a risk of receiving content that is not super interesting for you personally.

Bliu Bliu Interface Russian

Example of the vocabulary list interface for Russian

Conclusion

So would I recommend using Bliu Bliu?

I think the method and philosophy have great potential. A subscription to the platform is certainly worth it for you if you are looking for an (artificially) intelligent way to locate resources in your target language. The algorithm selecting the content and highlighting the words is really useful as is the dictionary function. I see it as a clever way to build your level of vocabulary, in particular. You will also absorb some of the grammatical structures from just reading and viewing the content.

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