How This App is Gamifying Language Learning – Q&A With Manit Parikh, Country Manager-India, ELSA


Ever felt like you needed a new challenge? Ever felt like you wanted to learn to speak English fluently but had trouble keeping the motivation up? Here is a great way to solve both problems in one go. The Elsa Speak Premier League rewards you as you learn to speak with MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and more.  With many players coming into the edu-tech segment in the mobile market, it is essential to quantify the effectiveness and actual learning that is initiated through the use of such apps. ELSA Corp’s ‘ELSA Speak Premier League’ (ESPL) is a program that is a step in the right direction. ELSA Speak is an AI powered mobile app that aims to help users learn, improvise and better their English through narrative modules and sessions. The company recently received a $ 7 million fund from Google, launched in India and now has its country headquarters in Bangalore.


Research proves that about 80% of the learning would be productive if processes are gamified and 60% of the population would be motivated by a leadership board and incentives. The ESPL completely gamifies the language learning process with a leaderboard approach. ESPL urges it’s participants to hit targets that result in real-time incentives by learning and improving their speaking skills.


Besides, ELSA Speak’s user-interactive interface creates an effective learning environment that provides instant feedback. With a maximum of three chapters that are to be completed everyday as part of the Premier League, ELSA Speak challenges users to improve their English pronunciation. The accumulated results of the leaderboard will unlock incentives such as Macbooks, iPads,  iPhones, etc.


In an interview with Manit Parikh, Country Manager-India, ELSA, explained the rich nuances of the app.


A selected excerpt –



A little background of the inception of the company


Vu Van found a stark difference in communication skills when she started studying at Stanford University. Hailing from Vietnam, Vu Van discovered at Stanford that foreign nationals found it difficult to interact confidently in English as opposed to their counterparts from America. But in today’s work setting, such soft skills are highly appreciated. Understanding that American English has taken over British English as the global business language, it was Vu Van and Xavier Anguera’s quest to enable everyone to speak a language with full confidence, which will help them attain a better life and career opportunities. This was the idea behind ELSA. With AI as the backbone along with voice and data analytics, we have layered research to design a product that helps people better their English skills.



With many players coming into the edu-tech segment in the mobile market, it is essential to quantify the effectiveness and actual learning that is initiated through the use of such apps. ELSA Corp’s ‘ELSA Speak Premier League’ (ESPL) is a program that is a step in the right direction. – Explain how?

There are many apps in the market today promoting learning. Through AI and interactive feedback, ELSA Speak allows one to actively engage their language skills. Taking into account psychology and learning behaviours, it is created for impactful learning. Through ESPL we want to encourage people to practice language skills regularly. Not only would they be able to improve their spoken English but also obtain a chance to win some exciting prizes through practise.


There’s a lot of technology all round and ‘AI’ seems to be the buzzword. But honestly, let us agree that it is games and competitions that drive users. We want people to get better at speaking English, in a way that it feels like a game and not like a classroom. The child in everybody sprouts out when there is a competitive angle and the mandatory usage of the application works in tandem to winning. All of this, while amplifying one’s level of pronunciation constantly is how we are looking at effective learning.


What does it do differently?

We have backed every inch of ELSA with research. Not just on speech and language, but also regarding brain activity and attention spans. We highly recommend everyday practise sessions of 10 minutes as that is the appropriate time period when it comes to attention span of users. Research shows that gaming interface increases productivity and also has the capability to immerse users into the program. 3 chapters every day, is the right amount for consumption when it comes to effective learning.


What impact has it created till now?


Through ELSA we intend to create –

-Empowering women (housewives, single mothers, working mothers) through communication

-Empowering Men (house husbands, single fathers, working fathers) through communication

-Impacting lives of millions (kids, women and men) in Tier 5 cities and beyond through communication

-Enhancing the individual (personality, image)

-Impacting livelihoods of individuals via communication in the form of higher salary, better job, shift in society via socio-economic upliftment, better chance of cracking an interview whether job, college admissions, visa interviews & more.

-Creating an equal playing ground for people with fantastic hard skills and average soft skills or vice versa.

-Building a bond between parents who cannot communicate in English with kids who are embarrassed by the same.


How many individuals/ professionals have the organisation catered to?

So far we have had over 2.5 lakh users in India and globally over 50 lakh users sign into the app everyday to complete their 10 minute practise with ELSA.


What are the five most important skills for today’s workforce?

India churns out one of the highest number of graduates, yet, most of them do not get placed in companies of their choice.


– The capability to speak in English and communicate effectively is one of the major criteria in their selection.

– Soft skills and confidence

– Ability to understand and empathise with a global clientele/ workforce

– Capability to adapt to any work environment and settle in with colleagues

– Tech savvy


What is the right time for today’s millennials to start learning skills?

With a gadget in everyone’s hand these days, literally anyone can start learning skills at any time. From a pre-primary student to a grandparent. These learning skills not just improve opportunities on a professional level. On a personal scale, polishing one’s skills can build confidence while communicating. As millennials, one needs to be market-ready. With just about 10 minutes each day, one can really upskill to grow.


Your future plans.

India is a diverse country with a wide range of languages. As of now, we have identified 30-40 dialects of Indian languages and have customised our technology to work on ‘mother-tongue’ influence of these in English. We are aiming to take this number to 300 dialects. Through ELSA, we want to integrate modules that will uplift every single person in the nation, personally and professionally.


Anything else you want to share?

We look forward to people joining the ESPL and have some fun! The more they Speak, the higher the chances of their winning.

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