Adaptive learning startup Polyglots launches newsreader app for Japanese-language learners



See the original story in Japanese.

Our readers may recall that Tokyo-based Polyglots secured a seed round funding from East Ventures in March. The company is best known for developing an English newsreader app under the same name, allowing Japanese users to learn English while reading news updates with many useful features such as managing unfamiliar English words in the app. The app has attracted more than 200,000 Japanese users to date since its launch one year ago.

Polyglots launched a new newsreader app called Mondo on Friday, aiming to help people learn Japanese. The app targets foreigners living in Japan, Japanese-language learners around the world, as well as people interested in Japanese culture.

Adopting adaptive learning technologies to Japanese-language learners


Kanji (Chinese characters) and ambiguity in expressions are the hardest parts in learning Japanese. To overcome these obstacles, practice makes perfect so users have to read as many Japanese sentences as possible. Similarly to the Polyglots app, the Mondo app allows Japanese-language learners to choose their favorite news category and read news articles in Japanese, leveraging useful features like the in-app dictionary and vocabulary notebook.

News articles can be sorted by the difficulty of context and the estimated time to finish reading so that users can easily choose one to fit their free time. The smart scroll feature lets users read articles more quickly to help them quickly acquire Japanese reading skills.

Aiming to attract tens of millions of people worldwide

By connecting the Polyglots app with user and data profiles, Polyglots wants to become a comprehensive communication platform for linguistics, where Japanese users learning English and non-Japanese speakers learning English can connect to each other. Beyond the online community based on the app, the company plans to bring users offline activities, such as local guides at destinations around the world.

Polyglots Founder and CEO Junya Yamaguchi elaborated:

Junya Yamaguchi

As the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 approaches, I think the understanding of Japanese culture in the world is still insufficient. By keeping people around the world informed with the real images of Japan, we want more people to become interested in Japan and visit some day.

The company is considering offering sightseeing services to foreign visitors to Japan while partnering with local governments and media companies in Japan. Its name is derived from Zenmondo, a cryptic dialogue between a Zen monk and his disciple. The company aims to acquire 100,000 users for the Mondo app, followed by attracting tens of millions of people worldwide with two services in several years.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson