terça-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2009

Interview - Patrick Nee - Yappr.com

Have you checked the suggested site YAPPR? Not yet? What are you waiting for!?
But before that, check the interview with Patrick Nee, founder of the website that offers lots of videos to improve your English.

- How and when did you have the idea for this site?
Patrick: I lived in Japan for a number of years in the early 1990s. Although I had studied Japanese before moving to Tokyo, I found that I had difficulty following a natural conversation between two Japanese.
At first, television wasn't very helpful. I didn't understand enough of the dialog to enjoy a television show. But when I finally progressed to the point where I could just make out the plot, I found that my Japanese improved rapidly. Because funny commercials, television shows, and sporting events are inherently interesting, I could enjoy a few hours of watching television while improving my Japanese. Television became the most effective way to study Japanese because it was fun.
I wanted to take that experience and help people study English. I designed yappr.com to have tools to lower the skill level somebody needs to start having fun with English videos. Need the translation? Only need the transcription? All these tools are at the user's fingertips.

- What is the aim of the site, exactly, is it an online course or one more tool for students of regular courses?
Patrick: Yappr.com currently offers a fun way for people to practice their English for a few minutes every day. I think it is very important to practice daily, but realistically that only happens if studying is fun. With a wide variety of videos, and new videos every day, users can return to the web site and hear native speakers each day.
This site doesn't teach English to people that have never studied the language. But most people now study English in their middle and high school curriculum, so many people have a good understanding of English grammar. Yappr.com can help them get comfortable with native English.

- How did you start broadcasting the site and how did you get readers to help you?
Patrick: Yappr.com was launched in November of 2007. We did some advertising on Google, and spent a lot of time trying to get the word out in blogs as well.
In the middle of 2008 we turned on our first Wiki feature that allows users to fix translations that are incorrect. I was very nervous; I didn't know whether users would improve the translations, worsen them, or post malicious messages. With my partner, who was born in El Salvador, we watched the activity on the Spanish version of yappr. Sure enough, users started making changes and they actually improved the translations! It was very exciting.

- How can new readers participate?
Patrick: New users can start just by watching videos that interest them. We have everything from cartoons, news, music, sports and more. They can see whether they can understand the video without any assistance, or show the transcript and the translation as needed.
Users can now help us select the videos on the site by pointing us to videos on YouTube. In addition, they can help by translating the video, increasing the number and variety of videos available to the community.

- Do you know how many videos are there available in the site? And how many members are there who actively participate?
Patrick: We currently have a couple thousand videos on yappr.com. When we started I selected all of the videos that we published, but recently users are uploading and translating more videos than we can prepare in-house. The community is making itself stronger by contributing, which is amazing to see.

- What's the advantage/differential of this site to others about English?
Patrick: Yappr.com is all about fun. If students of English can watch whatever content they want, they are bound to study more and make more progress. The site has no fixed curriculum and no teachers, just a chance to relax while learning and having fun!