MIT’s New WaitSuite Apps Can Teach You A New Language While You Wait For A Text Reply


Language is art. Knowing a new language is the most valuable skill one can have, particularly if you are one of those people that love traveling, it is always best to know as many languages as you can. Even if you do not speak a language fluently, knowing a few words can work like a charm when you need it. On the sad side, taking time out from the busiest of our schedules to learn a new language is quite tough, despite the fact that a lot of us waste half our day on our phones uselessly. Research members at the MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) decided to make the time you spend on your phone more productive through an app that enables you to learn a new foreign language.

WaitSuite is a series developed by CSAIL; it teaches you a foreign language in the “micro-moments” when you wait for a text, for an app to load, or for a video to buffer. The app teaches you vocabulary words, in the shortest free moments of your day. Unlike most other learning apps, you do not have to run the app when you want to specifically; WaitSuite is an integrated app that connects with the tasks on your device without interrupting any activity.

The app developer leader, Carrie Cai who is a Ph.D. student at Carrie Cai explained the advantage of the app over others saying, “With stand-alone apps, it can be inconvenient to have to separately open them up to do a learning task. WaitSuite is embedded directly into your existing tasks so that you can easily learn without leaving what you were already doing.”

Various types of apps in the WaitSuite series access several daily tasks on your smartphone. WifiLearner is one of the apps that detects when the user is waiting for an internet connection and prompts to teach a new word. WaitChatter is another similar app for instant messaging that automatically detects when the user is sending or waiting for a text. It uses this waiting time to teach nearly four words a day that makes for over 120 words a month. The ElevatorLearner app detects when a user is approaching an elevator using Bluetooth iBeacons, and then drops in a new name for the user.

The developer team has found that the app helps users stay focused on their task instead of digressing and checking social media. Cai said, “The vast majority of people made use of multiple kinds of waiting within WaitSuite. By enabling wait-learning during diverse waiting scenarios, WaitSuite gave people more opportunities to learn and practice vocabulary words.”

The best part with the idea of this app is that it is not limited to languages. It is equally capable of teaching medical terms, math, legal jargons, pretty much anything. The team also aims to develop audio-based teaching system for users who are always on the go or have work based on their phones. The app could also incorporate simple reminders to keep you from wasting time on your phone when you are bored.


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