Department undergrad using linguistics to build business

July 15, 2022

Linguistics undergraduate student Jiang Long started at Simon Fraser University (SFU) as a mature student in Spring 2022. With an undeniable passion for languages and established online language learning platform, Language Player, Jiang is now studying linguistics to build a foundation of knowledge to support in the improvement of his company.

Language Player is an online language learning platform that provides comprehensive language input through online media. Jiang takes the stance that language learning consists of three main components: the formal grammar that is taught in classroom settings, language practice through conversation with other speakers, and sufficient language input. Various tools exist for teaching grammar and practicing language, but many language learning platforms overlook the importance of the language input. This gap in the market is something that Jiang hopes Language Player will be able to fill.

The platform, which started out as an online Chinese dictionary, has expanded since 2019 to include over 820,000 videos from 228 different languages at the time of writing. There are upwards of 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube per minute and Jiang was inspired to capitalize on this large amount of possible language input to help learners find engaging language input all in one place.

Users of the Language Player platform have access to videos with accompanying transcripts and translations, an interactive dictionary that is fully integrated into the video transcripts, and additional learning resources for each language. The interactive dictionary, which formed the original core of the platform, not only provides definitions of words, but also includes examples of that word in different videos, sample sentences, collocations, and lists of related words, making it easy to find out more about new words that you come across in videos.

Jiang says the problem with many pre-existing language learning platforms is that they take a universal approach to language teaching. They try to separate language from culture and use the same strategy for teaching any given language. While Language Player currently only offers courses in Mandarin, by presenting learners with culturally specific media as language input, learners are exposed to more culturally specific characteristics of the language that they might not get from classroom instruction or other resources.

While at SFU, Jiang has taken courses in Linguistics and Business to continue growing Language Player. In his linguistics courses, Jiang feels enlightened about language topics that are helping him build his linguistic background. There are three courses that Jiang has found particularly helpful:

S This course highlighted the importance of morphology in the process of vocabulary acquisition. If someone can break down a language into its component morphemes, this can help with building a well-structured vocabulary.

S This course introduced the relationships between languages and provided information about the ways that languages can be categorized within their language families.

S This course provided tools for building components of the Language Player platform including those used to automate database maintenance, conduct lexical diversity analyses, and assign difficulty levels to match competency.

Jiang is looking forward to continuing to expand his linguistic knowledge, specifically in the area of applied linguistics. His goal for Language Player? To marry technology and linguistics to provide learners with a platform that combines ease of access with engaging language input in a target language.


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Interested in being a part of growing the Language Player platform? Jiang is currently looking for NLP collaborators to join his team. Find out more by contacting Jiang at