There is no deigning that it has been a tough year to relaunch Declan FlashCards – indeed it’s been a tough year for everyone. There have been reports that the COVID-related lockdowns in many countries have been a boon for online companies, including language learning outfits. The story is that with everyone stuck at home, lots of people decided to use the time to learn a new skill, including learning a language.
It is too early for us to say either way given that we only relaunched in September. But we can’t deign that it has been heavy going getting traction. When we first launched Declan Software’s mobile device apps more than 10 years ago, there where very few competitors in the app stores. Now there are scores of them and getting noticed in very much more difficult.
In September we launched the iOS version followed by the Android version about two months later and as expected, given that our marketing efforts have focused on English speaking countries, a large majority of installs have been on the iPhone/iPad platform.
The breakdown of which languages have been most popular with our users has also been determined largely by our marketing efforts. Spanish, French and Korean combined accounted for around 60% of all activity. We promoted these three languages most heavily because these are where we had the largest users base for the previous versions of our apps.
In 2021 we plan to focus heavily on signing up language learning schools and facilities to use the Declan Channels feature which lets institutions offer bespoke course material to students on their mobile devices via the Declan FlashCards app. It’s a great way for institutions to better engage with students, particularly in the face of all the language learning apps available for mobile devices. Also we plan to expand the language we offers, with Arabic being at the top of the list.
On the marketing front, we plan to explore the use of internet influencers – including one of our favourites, Bald and Bankrupt.
Signup for our FREE Word of the Day email list. Get a new Word of the Day in your inbox every day with a word, its meaning and its pronunciation.
Available for 14 languages including French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Italian, Korean, German, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Portuguese and Inglés (English for Spanish speakers).
The email includes a link to the word’s audio pronunciation. You can also save the word to a learning list that allows you to build a collection of words that you’d like to revisit and study.
Sign up by visiting our homepage www.declansoftware.com and wait for the popup to appear, then select the languages you are interested in and enter you email.
We have just added a new learning mode to Declan FlashCards. Now when you select a topic to learn you just need to start swiping left, as new words are introduced and exercises are presented. Just keep swiping left in a continuous stream until the all the topic’s words are mastered.
You can still use the old manual mode by going into settings and selecting the “Use the Classic interface” option:
While the new mode does away with the classic 10 word learning list, the new mode still focuses on word retention by reenforcing words that you are having trouble with. Get one exercise wrong and all the exercises will need to be repeated for that word – a word is only considered ‘learned’ when you get its exercises consecutively correct.
Hope you enjoy this new feature. We are constantly refining and updating Declan FlashCards to make it a more effective and enjoyable tool for learning foreign language words and phrases. If you have any comments, suggestions or requests we’d love to hear from you.
We have just implemented a free Word of the Day email feature for 14 languages – French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, German, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Portuguese and Inglés (English for Spanish speakers).
Just head over to our home page (https://www.declansoftware.com) and after a couple of second you should see a popup appear like below. If you don’t see it, you can also tap the “Word of the Day” top menu item.
Tap the flags to select the languages your are interested in, enter your email address and you should get your first Word of the Day emails after a minute or two. And then every day at around the time you signed up you should receive you word of the day email(s).
Unfortunately it is not possible to reliably embed audio into emails so to hear the pronunciation you will have to follow the link in the email (“Click here for the pronunciation audio”). That will take you to a web page that is identical to the email but with a “Listen” button.
The email also includes an unsubscribe link that lets you manage your subscriptions.
The distribution of non-native language (L2) speakers around the world reflects a very interesting mix of history, politics and economics.
It common knowledge that English and Chinese stand out with regard to the total number of speakers – these two language are the only ones that break the 1 billion people barrier (see the chart below). But the breakdown in native verses non-native speakers is very different for these two languages. And most other language have interesting stories behind their shares of native verses non-native speakers.
In the case of English, a massive three quarters of all speakers are non-native speakers, reflecting the language’s role as the modern day global linga franca and language of business. This is undoubted due to the dominant global roles once played by Great Britain (“the empire on which the sun never sets”) and currently played by the United States (think Hollywood and Coca-Cola). English remains the language most commonly learned as a second language, with French as distant second.
On the other hand, Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of the vast majority of its one billion plus speakers with only 18% being non-native speakers. And unlike English whose non-native speakers are scattered around the global, non-native speakers of Mandarin are mostly geographically confined to China itself and are typically non-Han Chinese minorities within China who are required to learn Mandarin at school as the national language.
Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) with a non-native speaker share of 78%, is both similar to China and different. Bahasa Indonesia is the official of the Republic of Indonesia, which itself is an ethnically and linguistically diverse archipelago of 270 million people. It is estimated that in the region there are more than 700 indigenous languages and Bahasa had been used as the lingua franca in the region for centuries. The striking difference to China, where Mandarin is the language of the dominate Han Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia is based on Old Malay which is not originally from Indonesia at all but from Malaysia, and was spread by colonisers and foreign traders arriving from the west via the Malacca Straits . Interesting Dutch, which was spoken widely during the colonial period, disappeared quickly with Indonesia’s independence and the formal adoption of Bahasa Indonesia as the national language.
Hindi, for which L2 speaker make up 45%, is also similar to Indonesia and Chinese in that it serves as the national language of India, a country that remains extremely linguistically diverse. A legacy of her colonial past, English remains an important language in India where it is estimated that there are 125 million speakers, over ten percent of the country’s population and accounting for close to one quarter of all non-native English speakers in the world.
Urdu, with a non-native speaker share of over 60%, is very similar to Hindi – that is the national language of Pakistan – a very ethnically and linguistically diverse post-colonial nation.
Spanish and Portuguese both have large numbers of speakers, but relatively low shares of non-native speakers. As with the case of the colonial legacy of Great Britain and the English language in places like the United States, Canada and Australia, Spain and Portugal also “exported” their languages to large land masses where their languages swamped the indigenous languages.
Arabic also in part owes it prominence to conquest – in this case the Muslim armies that swept across the Middle East and North Africa starting in the 7th century. Its popularity as a second language now days is a consequence of the importance that the Arabic language holds in the religion of Islam and its holy book – learning Arabic so as to be able to read the Quran in it’s original language is a goal of many Muslims around the world, and this in part accounts of languages relatively high share of L2 speakers at 37%.
The French language’s very high non-native speaker share of 73%, is also a story of colonialism. Rather than large sparsely populated land masses as in the case of Spanish and Portugal, France’s principle colonies were in a patchwork inAfrica where French became the administrative language and lingua franca amongst the diverse local ethnic tapestry. France continues to strongly promote the use of language across its francophone ex-colonies (La Francophonie).
Swahili is also notable with an L2 speaker share of 84% among its 84 million speakers. It is spoken in a swath of countries down the eastern coast of Africa and is the official language of several countries including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Modern Swahili is based on a tribal Bantu language which rose to prominence when the colonial powers that ruled on the coast of East Africa, including the Arabs, Portuguese and Germans, used the language as a lingua franca across the region. The first written form of Swahili used the Arabic script and indeed Swahili played a major role in spreading both Christianity and Islam across East Africa.
Thai is the final language on our list with the large non-native speaker share of the total number of speakers, at 66%. This reflects the political hegemony of the Kingdom of Thailand over an ethnic and linguistically diverse country.
Both Japanese and Korean have effectively a zero non-native speaker share reflecting the ethnic homogeneity of their homelands and the failure to establish colonies long term. Japanese did colonise Korea for several decades around the turn of the 20th century and during that time tried to suppress Korean in favour of Japanese.
Interested in learning a foreign language?
Why not try the Declan FlashCards app? It’s a fun and effective tool for learning 1000s of words and expressions in 14 languages (and counting).
Learn 1000s of words in French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, German, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Portuguese and now Inglés!
Learn 1000s of JAPANESE words and phrases with Declan FlashCards for iPhone/iPad and Android.
The Japanese channel has 6,500 words and phrases, organised into 111 topics. Each and every word has true native speaker audio.
Start by reviewing the words in groups of ten (the learning list). Then jump into the exercises – multiple choice, spelling and listening. Get one answer wrong and you have to redo all the exercises for that word – reinforcing the words that that need most attention.
Features and benefits of Declan FlashCards:
* Every language includes 1000s of words. * Every word includes a native speaker’s audio recording. * Flashcard review and exercises to aid memorization. * Strict Learning-List testing technique ensures word retention.
Declan FlashCards is an app for iPhone/iPad and Android devices that helps foreign language students learn vocabulary.
The app comes ‘pre-loaded’ with 14 language channels each containing 1000s of words and phrases.
The Channels feature allows schools to create their own bespoke channels containing course-specific content which students can load into their copy of Declan FlashCards.
How do students load a channel?
Students add a channel to Declan FlashCards by entering a “Channel Code” provided by the school.
The channel’s details are then presented and the student can choose to install it.
Using a Channel
The newly installed channel will appear above the pre-installed channels.
Tap the channel icon and the list of topics or lessons will appear.
Within each lesson are the words and phrases which can be reviewed and then the exercises can be attempted.
Creating your channels
Schools work with the Declan Software team to set up channels.
The Declan Team takes the course content provided by the school (word lists and audio recordings), and compiles these into a Declan FlashCards Channel.
If required, we can assist with putting together wordlists, as well as help with producing the corresponding audio recordings using professional native-speaker voice artists.
Channels also require an icon – usually the school or university logo or shield.
Copyright and intellectual property protection
All word lists and audio provided by the school remain copyrighted to the school, with Declan Software having only distribution rights.
The channel materials are delivered to the app in an encrypted format to ensure intellectual rights are protected.
Additionally, offering this material via an app rather than a website further guards against copying.
The Channel codes themselves can be configured to prevent unwanted sharing and copying of the course material. These channel codes can be specific to each student, can be single-use, can limit the number of devices the channel can be installed on per code, and can also be set to expire.
What does it cost?
The institution can choose one of two options for how access to its channels is priced by Declan Software:\
1. An annual subscription paid by the institution based on the number of students using the institution’s channels, or
2. An in-app subscription paid by the individual app users – the students.
For pricing details please contact us.
There is no charge to the school for the work Declan Software does compiling channels, or for hosting them on our servers.
If assistance is required to record audio, these costs would be covered by the school.
Want to know more?
Declan FlashCards can be downloaded for free – for iPhone/iPad from the Apple AppStore or for Android from the Google Play AppStore:
Just search for “Declan FlashCards”.
Once you have installed the app, tap the yellow “+ Add Channel” button at the bottom of the page with flags and enter the code:
or a demonstration of how Declan FlashCards Channels work.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my private email:
If you’d like to discuss how Declan Channels could work for your institution, I am very happy to organise a call, or you can ring me directly on