Michael Odokara-Okigbo resolved to fill a want he noticed in the language finding out market place.
PORTLAND, Maine — We usually listen to the expression ‘there’s an application for that’ – but when Michael Odokara-Okigbo went hunting for an app to discover African languages, he couldn’t uncover just one. So, he did what just about every entrepreneurial young male would do and made a decision to establish one particular himself. 207 talked with Michael.
How did you get the strategy for this?
“I was essentially understanding French above the pandemic, I preferred to master yet another language and occupy my thoughts, but I truly had also wanted to master my native language of Igbo.”
Michael couldn’t come across any applications to aid him learn.
“In the language studying house, there are no African language mastering apps,” he determined. “I appeared at the sector possibility and I imagined this could be an incredible factor to not only set time in, but also possibly develop a neighborhood with.”
He started to perform on an app that would not only educate language but carry people today jointly as they delved into learning.
“We are the to start with African language mastering application in the sector that teaches mother tongues to folks that are fascinated in African languages,” says Michael. So, NKenne, which is actually named following my mom – it is her middle identify – ‘Shalom Nkenne Odokara’ implies ‘of the mother’ in the Igbo language,” he says.
How several African languages are there?
“There are 1000’s of African languages. What tends to make NKenne fully various is that we’re setting up the very first fluid African language databases. You know you have words and phrases in African languages that can indicate six, seven distinct items. So you have to be precise with the sort of device-finding out capabilities that you have because there are unique means to say one phrase.”
Right now the app makes use of the Igbo language but strategies to increase to other indigenous tongues.
“We are launching formally late August, early September, exactly where we’ll have 4 languages on start – Somali, which is a popular Maine language, Swahili, Igbo, and Yoruba,” claims Michael.
Yoruba is a language spoken in West Africa, mainly in Southwestern Nigeria. NKenne is employing comments from users, or ‘community members’ as they phone them, as it shapes long term written content.
Michael relies on that comments.
“They convey to us what they like, what they do not like. They even explained to us that they wanted to have Swahili on as 1 of the languages, so which is component of a single of the factors why we’re putting it on. We have our users linked – they hook up with each other – we’re beginning to also insert mechanisms the place they exercise with just about every other. So, we’re developing a local community-based African language learning application.”
Mainly because it is an application, this group could essentially be worldwide. Someone making use of it in Maine could be practising with somebody in a further region.
“Which is the target. It is an inclusive language studying app that celebrates persons of all heritages, sexual orientations, creed, no make any difference who you are. If you just wanna hook up with individuals who are fascinated in African languages this is your platform.”
What is your objective with this?
“The aim is starting off to grow to be fulfilled. You need to feel some of the remarks that we’re having from our end users. It feels like they are retaining some sort of their heritage once more, which has been outstanding to see.
“But you know, our major aim right now is to get NKenne into universities. We are not only creating NKenne, but we are creating NKenne for college students which is a independent desktop platform in which professors will be quickly able to educate African languages. Our hope is to construct a group that is psyched about speaking African languages and mastering anything various within themselves regardless of whether they are related to the continent or not,” states Michael.
The app is continue to in development and will sooner or later involve a web site, podcast, and chat area. NKenne has been in the finals of Greenlight Maine and won the Emerging Enterprise Award from Gorham Savings Financial institution. And if you acknowledge Michael, it is since he is also a recording artist below the title of “Michael O.” A long time ago, together with the Dartmouth Aires, he was the runner up in NBC’s a Capella contest “The Sing Off.”
To discover much more about NKenne, simply click right here.
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