New Estonian language-teaching startup raises EUR1 million

A new Estonian startup, Lingvist, that aims to teach a new language in 200 hours, has raised EUR1 million in a round of funding.

Lingvist has developed a software programme that aims to help people learn any language in 200 hours by the means of applying mathematical concepts to the learning process. In a personalised approach, using mathematical optimisation, the tool tailors tasks according to one’s knowledge and skills. It takes languages apart and arranges them into microlessons that each learner completes in the order that is the most efficient for them.

The company claims its adaptive learning approach, in which the software tracks what the learner knows and what not in order to determine what one should learn next to fill the gaps most efficiently, sets Lingvist apart from its competitors.

The company was set up by Mait Müntel, who developed the prototype software to learn French in 200 hours. Encouraged by his progress, he launched it as a startup.

Although just a year in making, Lingvist has already raised EUR1 million in a round of funding – from SmartCap (the investment arm of the taxpayer-funded Estonian Development Fund), Nordic VC Inventure and several angel investors, including the co-founder of Skype, Jaan Tallinn.

Currently, it’s in a beta testing phase for French and Spanish learning modules.


Cover photo: screenshot of Lingvist beta-page.

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  • Heptsaskelion

    But, the question is: will it have Estonian?

    • SilverTambur

      According to Lingvist, it’s not feasible at this stage. But they are not ruling it out in future.

    • George Butler

      Not even Rosetta Stone offers Estonian. It must be a marketing question. (Nobody wants to learn Estonian?)

      • George Butler

        Or, is it a technical question? Maybe Estonian is too hard for the software?

        • SilverTambur

          It’s more like a marketing question – there are not enough people interested to learn Estonian to make it worthy for a new startup, whose aspirations are global – makes sense, hard truth as it possibly may seem to some. But they said that it is possible in future, provided that Estonian Ministry of Education will also support.

      • supershwa

        My wife is Estonian – it is one of the hardest languages to learn for those of us who speak English as our fist language. There are about 14 different ways to pronounce a word based on its accompanying pronoun, and most vowels have short, long and over-long sounds…overall it’s quite difficult — Spanish is much, much easier! Fortunately, most Estonians speak English, Russian and their native Estonian, so they are usually easily to communicate with!

        • George Butler

          “… most Estonians speak English…”

          Exactly! That’s a big part of why it’s difficult to learn Estonian! It’s much easier to “get to the point” (i.e., get me out of their hair) after we’ve switched to English, theirs always being better than mine. Ha, ha!

          My (Estonian) wife and I get up every day and pledge, with our kids: “isale, ainult Eesti keel täna!” For Daddy, only Estonian today.

          Five minutes later, we’re back to English. 🙂

          • George Butler

            Television broadcasts here in Tallinn too: Hollywood films are shown in their original English, with Estonian subtitles.

            In Italy in the early 1980s, I would watch “Dallas”, dubbed into Italian. Later, I would watch Hollywood films in Munich, dubbed into German. This helped in learning those languages.

            The decision in the early 1990s to leave Hollywood films in their original English was very helpful for the young, new generation of Estonians in becoming citizens of the world.

  • Estonian Education Information System (EEIS) studied the data of Estonian higher education level in 2013. Was a total of 3,573 foreign students,
    Only for them we need a language training program, not to mention our 400,000 Russian citizens, who need all the great Estonian language learning program.