The app "Vasya - Simple English" - an unusual approach to learning

I found out about the app "Vasya - Simple English" completely by accident on the Facebook page of its ideologist, Vladimir Guriev. After reading a long text about how Vasya was created, I felt sympathy for both Vasya and the app. I decided to install it for myself. I liked it. It really is a very unconventional approach to learning English. As the author of the course and app said himself, - If I came up with a language that is very easy to learn, I would have learned English, it really intrigued me. I installed the app. I'll tell you about my experience later, but for now I suggest you read that message by Vladimir, which hurt me and after which I installed Vasya.

Download "Vasya - Simple English" for free from AppStore for iPhone.

Download "Vasya - Simple English" for free from Google Play for Android.

The app "Vasya - Simple English" - an unusual approach to learning

How the app "Vasya - Simple English" was created

How I fell in love with Vasya

I realized, by the way, that almost no one knows what I really do (no, I don't write books).

Well, as you know. after the post about the book, I got a call from an investor.

- Very," he says, "congratulations. from the bottom of my heart. it's so great that you write on your fb about what's really important to you.

Sometimes I think I just attract passive aggression champions to me. they fly at me like flies at honey. flies usually at honey, right? well, never mind.

So, the main project I've given the last two years to is not a book, but a virtual character who teaches English.

We were actually supposed to do something completely different, but we never got around to doing something completely different, so at some point I said, let's make Vasya in a month to test a few hypotheses, and then, armed with new knowledge, we'll return to the main project.

for the phrase "let's make it in a month at the knee" I should be punched immediately in the face, but I did not know about it at the time.

I named the character Vasya, because I assumed that the story could end in a complete fiasco, and, like, why waste a good name on naming, and, at least, I already had some unpleasant associations with two Vasya's.

In a pinch, I thought, I'll get my revenge.

As a result, the month stretched into a year and a half, and I was so attached to Vasya that I was really worried at the launch, and I still worry every time we release an update.

What makes Vasya different from all the other language apps is that it is not a collection of exercises, Vasya really explains how the English language works and why it works this way and not that way.

We looked at a huge number of tutorials and self-study programs, and all of them were rejected because, in our opinion, the English language grew out of a few basic principles, and all the other rules are logically derived from them - literally derived, to these rules, if you sit down and think calmly, it is easy to come up with your own mind.

If I were to come up with a language that was very easy to learn, I would have English.

In fact, that's what we do. we come up with a new, very simple language together with the students, and it turns out to be English.

And it's almost impossible to forget what you came up with on your own.

the most basic principles in English are very cool. in English the form of a word does not change (there are no declensions, no cases, no grammatical gender - less to memorize). in addition, the same word can be both an adjective and a noun, and a verb (again, less to memorize).

(if anything, I know it's all wrong, but the model should be effective, not accurate)

it automatically follows from these principles that English sentences have a strict word order, because otherwise we would be confused as to who was standing on whom, plus every English sentence must have a verb.

And then everything else grows out of these basic principles, and many complex topics become simple - it is very easy, for example, to explain the necessity and logic of the articles.

Plus we separated the important from the unimportant and, frankly, spit from the high bell on the exceptions. well, really, no one has died from forgetting that you have to put a definite article in front of rivers, but not in front of lakes for some reason.

Language is a means of communication. If you are understood correctly, it is a victory, and winners are not judged.

one of our consultants, the lovely Colin, who came from Britain twenty years ago and is still stuck here, always cringed and sobbed at my words, but I think I'm right and he just loves his subject too much.

We analyzed the oral corpus plus several tens of thousands of subtitles from movies and TV series and pulled out the most common words that allow us to understand 80% of the dialogues.

and so that our interlocutors are good at understanding the meaning of words from the context, we have invented special exercises in which you have to guess the meaning of the whole sentence without knowing some of the words in it - this skill is perfectly developed in the application to the native language, but in a foreign language by default does not work at all.

We have no boring exercises in which you have to memorize the dictionary meanings of words at all, because in our opinion, this is just an unnecessary and harmful simplification: the word about, for example, is not the equivalent of the Russian word "about", just in some contexts it performs the same function.

and some of them don't.

on all of this they put an interval Ebbinghaus scheme, made speech exercises, a special game mode for listening, and so on.

Well, I almost forgot. and normal people do not talk in words, but in formulas, so we also give stable expressions (these are not idioms, but simply common constructions, which are easier to remember and in the right situations use the whole. for example, give it a try). so that a person in this situation does not think how to translate from Russian to English, and immediately used a ready-made answer.

Anyway, when I decide to test a hypothesis or two in a month, I take it seriously, I'll be damned.

It seems to me that we are useful not only to those who do not know the language at all, but also to those who sort of know it, but are "confused" about tenses or something else - we offer, maybe not a universal, but a completely unique view of the English language, and for many it would be useful to look at English from a new angle - maybe things that seemed complicated to you are not so complicated at all.

I was bragging a little bit here, but of course there were some things that didn't work out or didn't turn out the way we thought they would. if I could go back a couple of years, I would do a lot of things differently and better.

But the story with the experimental product and hypotheses went down an unexpected path. first we got hit by Apple a couple of times, then somehow sales on android picked up, and, in general, the product that was intended to be temporary has tamed a non-zero number of users that we cannot and do not want to give up.

Our users are wonderful and very touching. from time to time they find mistakes in the content and write letters. already several people, for example, have written that Anne of Cleves is not Henry's second wife, but the fourth, but we haven't been able to find where Vasya says she is second for months.

On the whole, however, Vasya turned out to be quite polar, either one actively likes him or not.

But that's normal. All the Vasis I knew were like that.

But you probably have the most important question: Is it possible to learn English with Vasya.

I'll answer honestly: Yes.

to be even more honest: personally, thanks to Vasya, I learned English better than I would have liked.

As for you, it depends. I do not believe in principle that you can learn English just by studying on the app, or even by talking to a live teacher twice a week - both are just tools, they will not learn the language for you.

But I believe that we give an effective model for describing the English language - and it is useful to learn it with us, and even if you for some reason decide to learn it somewhere else, this model will be very useful for you to structure your learning, guide the teacher and not let him fill your head with unnecessary and useless bullshit.

The design was done by Oleg Malakhov (ex-Revolut), where it was nice and cool, it was his hand, and where it could have been better, we finished it later.

The first five levels are free, the rest by subscription, but each level costs less than 20 rubles.

I feel good about the name Vasya now.

Source - Vladimir Guriev's Facebook

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