SSi Forum

SSi - the latest news and/or thoughts about the whole project


Since I’ve been learning Welsh with SSiW I’ve really had my eyes opened (redacted by moderator), and I’ve felt part of something good that is trying to support the language and the Welsh culture in a really positive way. I’ve enjoyed being part of what seems to be a caring community with minority interests at heart. I’m really not sure how I feel about this Chinese venture. China has an aggressive foreign policy and has totally dominated Tibet by force and obliterated its language and culture. Is this not a conflict with SSiW’s philosophy?


That’s a terrific offer, Amanda, thank you very much - will definitely be bearing it firmly in mind! We’re looking in detail at three possible good ways forward at the moment, and may well end up doing a mixture of all three - so we’re moving away from the idea of exclusive structures, which might mean we don’t end up going with Revenco… depends a bit on what looks like the fastest way forward… :slight_smile:


No one understands cats. Just admire, worship and feed them. Watch for the tail twitch when you pet them, then stop!!!


I understand your concerns, and it’s certainly the kind of thing that we’re more than willing to talk through as part of the community… :slight_smile:

I think it breaks down into a number of different points - at least, that’s how it feels in the discussions we’ve already been having in this direction at board level…

First, I think we have to ask if we should on general principles refuse to help people learn languages if they live in countries whose foreign or domestic policies we disagree with. That raises an immediate question about who the ‘we’ are - my own personal opinions might not be shared across the board, and certainly can’t be shared across the entire community - for me, this general principle would currently mean not working in the UK or the US, so it’s a little problematic… :wink:

Then we have to ask if there is some objective level of government behaviour which we could all agree on as a) unacceptable and b) only present in some countries. This seems more nuanced and complicated to me, and probably needs more thought, but might be solved to some extent by the third key point, which is:

To what extent does teaching languages support questionable behaviour by governments?

I think that where I stand on this by now is that education is a hugely valuable process for all humans, and that one of the worst things governments do is reduce access to education (if historical patterns of spending are followed broadly in the next five years, I’d expect to see the UK reduce spending on education again). So anywhere an education company helps people access education, I’d see that as a positive thing.

I was particularly struck by my experiences of meeting ordinary Chinese people. I found them extremely friendly, great company and very interesting - I enjoyed my time in Guangzhou enormously, and in particular how calm and relaxing it felt to be wandering on some startlingly busy streets after dark.

So I think that as things stand, my current position is that we don’t teach languages to governments, we teach them to individuals - and I can’t yet see a reason why we would refuse to teach someone because of something their government has done.

Hope this helps explain some of my and our thinking on this point… :slight_smile:


And while I’m here… it’s Monday again!

It feels like several months since my post last Monday…

What a week.

We got a monstrous amount of stuff done. We got to know the company that might be interested in working with us in China (who seemed like a really nice bunch of people) - we identified and mapped out in quite a lot of detail two other ways to move into the market in China - we saw clearly how much need there was for what we do, and how much desire for successful learning of English and other languages - and we saw how it wouldn’t actually be all that tricky to go in even without a large scale business partner.

We now need to buckle down, get a bunch of course building done in the first three months of next year, finish some on-going conversations about investment, and invest a bit more in our course creation tool - as well as pushing on with our existing marketing. If all goes well, we should be in a good position to go back to China in April to run three or four different learning tests, including doing some accelerated Mandarin learning ourselves… :slight_smile:

For the rest of this week, I’m mostly going to be answering messages and emails, doing a little coaching for Taith Iaith, and then getting my head down to sleep until Christmas… :wink: :joy:


Blwyddyn newydd dda and a very happy Monday to you all… :slight_smile: :star: :star2:

This week is the beginning of a month of going full speed ahead on production - I’m going to be building our English course (through the medium of Spanish and Mandarin) to be ready to kick off some serious promotional stuff in February.

Frankly, if you see me doing anything apart from building English courses this week, you should shout at me… :wink:


At the risk of inviting a response and this then making everyone shout at you :laughing: (!) I wonder if this also means that Mandarin through the medium of English might follow relatively easily in the software, just by reversing the order of each of the audio snippets and changing which of them are duplicated? :thinking:
In other words, going from hearing Mandarin-English-English, i.e. an English course through the medium of Mandarin, if the same files could also be reordered without too much effort to produce English-Mandarin-Mandarin, i.e. a Mandarin course through the medium of English? (Assuming that it’s okay to just use one speaker for each language, rather than a duo as in the current Welsh courses).
Anyway, good luck!


[braces for shouting]

if the same files could also be reordered without too much effort

Sadly, it’s not quite that simple - but it’s not as bad as starting from scratch, either - the extra recording is easy, but because we build in the target language and then reverse-engineer/correct for the interface language, a straight swap would often have different words in the new target language… sorry, this gets fiddly…

Say we’re teaching English via Spanish - and we’ve taught ‘I’d like’ - sometimes the Spanish interface for that will use quisiera, sometimes me gustaria - which is fine, no problem. But if we now reverse it, and we’re trying to teach Spanish to an English speaker, and sometimes when the prompt is ‘I’d like’ we give them quisiera, and sometimes me gustaria, they will quickly explode. [I know, because we actually do this a few times in the current Spanish course!].

But once we’ve built an English course for Mandarin speakers, and a Mandarin course for Spanish speakers, we’ll have a surprisingly high percentage of the English course for Spanish speakers - so really it’s about growing the size of the central sentence database leading to lower and lower costs to produce new courses… :slight_smile:


Wow, thank you so much for the insight - it’s really good and interesting to know!
I can see that it would be so nice and straightforwards if there were a one-to-one correspondence between languages, from the point of view of computers and software, but that this often just isn’t how languages work in reality!


And English through the medium of Italian? C’mon, it’s just a tiny step away from Spanish! :wink:

And I keep on hearing teachers complaining about University students’ terrible English (not to mention fellow travellers I meet around Europe). Very much needed!


Just got back from a meeting in Machynlleth with Iestyn and Stine - also this week, catching some Spanish support tomorrow while Deborah is in Australia, an intensive day with Carol V on Wednesday, and then (still hard to believe I’m typing this) Liz’s funeral on Thursday.

Otherwise, I’ll be flat out building English lessons - and yes, once we’ve got them done for Spanish speakers, it’s a tiny shift to getting them done for Italian speakers, so likely to be very soon afterwards… :slight_smile:


Eccellente! :wink:


Could be handy for my two wheeled foray into the Pyranees this summer


I recommend 1000 cc or greater (from experience) :smile:


Just scraped through. I think 1130 should do then. :grin: