Savitha Reddy - Scaling language learning with LanguageStation
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Loves: Yoga and Vegan food
Favourite quote: “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached” by Swami Vivekananda
Learning languages is a powerful thing. It allows you to bring different cultures together. The LanguageStation.org is a startup that allows peer-to-peer learning of languages. In essence it allows you to learn languages at the user’s convenience. Its founder Savitha Reddy has been in the business of languages for over two decades and serves as the CEO of InLingua, a language learning company. Her company is always on the lookout for linguistic experts who have the passion to help people pick up a new language. She talks about how she has built a globally scalable peer-to-peer language learning platform. A report from British Council shows that one third of the world’s population aspires to learn a language. This is exactly why Savitha Reddy started up with language station. Here are the excerpts of the interview with theupstreamlife.com:
Vishal Krishna: Tell me about the LanguageStation.org?
Savitha Reddy: There are a lot of people wanting to learn languages and going to a physical centre is not feasible for many of them. The COVID-19 has only accelerated the process of learning at one’s convenience and at home. We started LanguageStation for those who want personalized training with languages. We launched online learning three years ago, but, COVID-19 accelerated the whole process of learning online.
Vishal Krishna: Talk about the methodology of teaching in LanguageStation?
Savitha Reddy: How did we start learning languages as children – we listened and learned them from our parents. We learnt it from Wren and Martin books in school. To speak the language fluently you need not know the grammar. When you are writing grammar, it is important and must have a functional approach. We teach people through examples and through talking. Languages can be learnt through questions. Our trainers convert every statement in to a question. The trainers keep asking questions and this works beautifully in learning languages. When you learn a language you are keeping your mind fit. When we select trainers they need to be good at talking and open to asking questions. We check if they are native speakers and have an exposure to the language in terms of certifications. We have a very carefully filtered selection methodology for our trainers and they are the ones who make a difference for us. In training you need someone to show you the way and not just listen to recordings again and again.
Vishal Krishna: Do you measure language learners?
Savitha Reddy: There is research which shows that people who have learned many languages are able to learn things fast. We have seen that people like our training and a lot of people come back to us and give us testimonials about our impact. In language learning there is listening, speaking, reading and writing. Serious learners learn grammar and pursue the higher form. Most of us learn by listening. I have learned my Telugu that way, but, I am not good at the grammar. Technology scales up learning and measurement. The learners and trainers get to interact much better now than a decade ago. A British Council study shows that one third of the world’s population wants to learn a new language. This helps the world to become better. This is what we want to solve for the world.
Vishal Krishna: Tell me about leadership, how have you managed a company for two decades and a
startup at the same time?
Savitha Reddy: I started up in 2005 with English first and then added languages like French and German. Remember, in business, change is the only constant and you have to innovate every year otherwise you get left behind. I am constantly looking at trends and how technology is going to shape businesses. We started with telephone lessons to teach language. It was a novel way to deliver training of languages. At the same time we integrated with Salesforce and began automating our processes. We started offering online classes in 2015. Back then there wasn’t much demand for online classes. Things have changed rapidly. If you have to make a difference one has to embrace change. Let me be honest approach to problem solving is what makes you go through the startup life. I always believe in following up and completing things and I have been like that since child hood.
I was inspired by a quote from Swami Vivekananda, when I was at school, who said “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached” and I still apply this to this day. I have had a series of mentors in my life. It was my mother who inspired me to continue with my MBA and get in to entrepreneurship. The first few years were difficult in entrepreneurship and the answers that I found in that difficult journey made it a spiritual one and things started falling in place.
I kept learning always. Experience has taught me to enjoy things. Failure is good because you gain wisdom from it. I am a yoga practitioner and follow a plant based diet.
I also am very spiritual and I try to live in the present. I love the move “peaceful warrior” and recommend people to watch it.