Review of the Day – “Trill”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: March 10, 2017

Hello everyone,

first, sorry for taking so long with the article this week. I had a bad sinusitis and I couldn’t focus on anything for a few days.
Second, today I’m actually really really EXCITED because I get to tell you about a new language learning app.
Now, there are like millions of language learning apps and tools out there and most of them are kind of boring. Like… sometimes when I can’t sleep, I go to Google Play store and look at language learning apps.

“… new, fun way of learning German…”
“… learn German in an efficient, fun way… “
“… latest language learning research combined with lots of fun…”
“… we’ve developed the SRS-method.. .” 

Usually, when I read “SRS, spaced repetition system”, I am gone.
So a few weeks ago when I got an email if I want to c
heck out this new app, I was thinking like “Sure, let me get my pillow.” But then, when I read what the app was, I got hyper uber mega excited. Like…. I think, I even felt an upward twitch at the corner of my mouth. And I’m a German, so that means something.
So I’m really excited to tell you about it and hear your thoughts. Ladies and gents, get ready for a glimpse at the future of language learning…


Trill – what is it

The idea of Trill is as simple as it is great: location based language learning. Or in other more practical terms:

You move around the city, and the app gives you sentences that are connected to where you are and what you’re seeing.

Like… you’re walking down a street with the app open and your headphones in. and every now and then, the app would read a sentence to you. Like…

“In diesem Museum ist eine Austellung über die DDR.”

“Am Sonntag ist auf diesem Platz ein großer Flohmarkt.”

“In diesem Haus hat David Bowie gewohnt.”

“In diesem Haus war deine Freundin gestern Nacht,
als du dachtest, sie ist bei ihrer Schwester.”

Okay… not the last one. That’s gonna be a few more years. Actually, I’m not sure I want that ever.
Anyway, so yeah.. the idea is that you get bits of spoken German that is DIRECTLY connected to where you are and what you see. Simple but pretty damn amazing, if it’s implemented the right way.

Now, the app is at a very early stage and is run by a small enthusiastic team in Berlin. It’s only available for iOS and, so far, only has material for Berlin.
I should say “only” in quotes, because for this early stage and compared to lots of other apps, they have quite something to offer already.
There are 5 “packages”, covering 5 of the most common areas in Berlin, and there are about 1.000 sentences in the app. That’s pretty cool actually, when you consider that each sentence is tailor-made by someone who is not only a native speaker but ALSO has teaching experience. So they’re idiomatic and digestible for the learner. And on top of that, they also gives you interesting insights into the city.

The layout is pretty neat and simple. Here’s a couple of screen shots.

You see a map of where you are and a number of pins. Each pin is a sentence. When the app is running and get into a certain distance of a pin, you’ll hear the sentence read out. The audio is synthesized speech, which is of course not ideal, but I have to say the quality is fairly decent.  and the screen shows a transcript and the key words and phrases.
But you can also listen to pins/sentences, even if you’re NOT near it, so you can actually use Trill as a sort of tourist guide to help you find spots you’re interested in seeing. That’s actually pretty cool, when you think about it – a tour guide who is teaching you German.

Now, there’s not much you can do beyond listening to the sentences and their parts. As I said, it’s at a very early stage.
But the potential is HUGE.

Trill – why I am so excited about it

You see, there are loads of language learning apps  coming out but what they all have in common is that they’re not innovating. All they do is rehash old ideas. I mean… it’s freaking 2017 and still, apps talk about their implementation of the SRS-method (spaced repetition vocabulary memorization routine) as if it was the newest, hottest shit around. It is NOT. This is decades old and I can do SRS with a box and paper.

Trill is different in that it is actually something new and innovative, that makes use of the new technologies that are there. And from a learner’s perspective, the idea is just great.

You get sentences in context at a time when they really fit and that also are a kind of tourist guide.

I mean come on… that’s amazing. And there’s SOOO much you can do with an app based on that premise. Just imagine what you could work into this…

– a personal vocab notebook to save new words you’ve learned (they’re working on that)
– vocab memory games you can play right after your walk,
– grammar tags for the sentences with a quick reference for it, so you can look up stuff,
– a discussion thread for each sentence, so you can clear up questions and discuss,
– layered difficulties so you can visit the same location several times and get a more complicated sentence each time,
– walking tours designed by locals taking you to all the cool, hip places all the while teaching you German….
– preping you on how to order a coffee RIGHT before you enter the store

Wouldn’t that be the absolute bestest learning app ever?
Lots f work, no doubt, but I’m really really impressed by the idea and excited about what can be done with it. Like….  if you’re an investor reading this, what are you waiting for?!?! Invest!! This has the potential for more than “just a language learning App”. Better than Duolingo. Or should we say Who-olingo? Meh… okay, Duolingo is pretty big, I guess :).

Anyway… so, I think it’s obvious that I’m super excited for this, but of course what really matters is YOUR opinion.

What do you think?

You got the unique chance to be one of the first to try out Trill; so you get to say “Yeah, I was there before it was big” when it’s all famous in a few years :).
If you have an iPhone, you can download the App for free.
You don’t even need to sign up or anything. Just install it and install the 5 packages for 5 areas of Berlin and you’re ready to go for a walk… with benefits.
Here’s the link to the app at iTunes

Click here: Download Trill from iTunes

Not in Berlin?
Well, no problem. You can still download everything and check it out. I mean, you can’t walk around with it, but you can check out the sentences and get at least a little impression of it.
Again, it’s a very early stage, so focus on the idea, not the details.

And even if you don’t have an iPhone (like me, Mihri the head programmer was nice enough to show me the app on hers), you surely have thoughts about.
So let’s talk about this in the comments. What do you think about the idea? Would you use that for language learning? And what would you like the app to have?
And if you’ve tried the app… how did you like it? Did you enjoy it? Was there something bothering you? What were you missing? Share your thoughts and  suggestions and criticism in the comments. I’m really curious, and I’m sure the creators are, as well.

So yeah, this was my little review and introduction of Trill and clearly I’m a a fan. I ‘ll see you guys in the comments, and if not, have a great rest of the week and bis nächstes mal :).
Oh and if you got seed money … get in touch. Seriously.

Trill Language Learning – Homepage
(if you like promotional vids)

Trill – Facebook Page
(for updates and stuff)

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