Cognate Language Learning


Alejandro Paschalides, Shirley Lu, Tamim Zaki




FS MBA, Wharton, American University of Sharjah, Exeter, Comcast, Rio International

Making language learning more effective and engaging through customization

Cognate is working to bring customization and hyper-personalization to the language learning space. Current language learning solutions provide the same courses to their users regardless of their profession, interests and hobbies, content preferences, and language learning goals. 

Cognate is seeking to change this by using AI and other tools to build extensive databases of vocabulary and practice sentences for hundreds of different topics and themes, and present these in a logical and interesting manner. Thus, instead of a generic sentence like “The lion hunts the giraffe.”, an executive in the automotive industry can learn “Motor vehicle sales are increasing.”.  

The idea came to one of the founders while he was preparing for a job interview with a financial services firm. Despite already being fluent in German and having fully completed several online courses, he still found himself having to look up much of the jargon and tangential keywords for the financial industry. He also remembered how excited he was to learn words related to his hobbies of photography and music, and how uninteresting other topics were. Since engagement is the number one driver of success in language learning, he felt like that could be significantly improved through customization. 

The company is currently working on developing its MVP, and already has vocabulary databases more than double the size of the largest app-based language learning companies.