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Project ID: 1041 - learning languages while watching TV

Initiator: Philipp Etzlinger
submitted on: 05.11.2015
Budget: € 10.640,-
Funding deadline: 15.01.2016
Country/Region: Austria/Vienna
Type: Campaign
Issue: Respect & diversity


Project address

Putzendoplergasse 16/32/10
1230 Wien

The project will be developed in Vienna as well as in Brno (CZ) and Pescara (IT).
  • Date of planned start: 12.01.2016
  • Date of planned end: 02.12.2016

Brief project description is a smartphone /Tablet application which enables learning languages while watching TV, respectively improving existing language skills.

TV-channels will be streamed to a smartphone or tablet and interactive subtitles (same language subtitles) will be added. In case one does not understand a certain word he or she can click on it and it will be translated simultaneously into the user's mother tongue. Thereby each word, the user clicked on, will be stored in the personal learning section of the user so that he/she can learn with his/her personalized learning content after the show is over. All those words will be managed in virtual learning cards.

But is more than that: TV facilitates the understanding of what moves a nation, its culture and its proceedings and the news about it. Via migrants and refugees have at their disposal a tool to understand what happens in their host country, what moves the culture of the society there. A good starting point seems to be enabling a better understanding of the local culture. We see a huge potential for to occupy an important place as a tool for migrants.

So is far more than a language learning tool - it is a helpful tool to support integration.

Proof of project conclusion

The proof of application of funds will be ensured through the establishment and operation of the service itself. In detail we will account all via invested money with fee notes and original documents (total billing , invoice copies of the expenses that have been denied to the accruing funds of, photographic documentation as well as online final report)


82% learn languages from watching TV - we're improving that

People are already using TV to learn or improve foreign languages. Maybe you too have been in the situation of watching a movie in original language in order to improve your language skills. Then you're not alone: according to a study by Kaplan International 82% of the people learned English by watching TV.'s goal it to improve that.

But there's a drawback: in case you adopt this technique in order to learn or improve languages via watching TV, you'll need to look up manually the words you do not understand. This can be quite stressful: Watching TV, noting down the words you don't understand plus looking them up in a dictionary leads to the fact that you'll miss a lot of the content. So the idea of was conceived when other people too told us that they're facing the same challenge.


How does actually work?

At TV channels will be streamed to the Smartphone or Tablet and we're adding interactive subtitles. All you need is

  • Smartphone or Tablet
  • app start learning languages while watching TV via Besides interactive subtitles will be added. In case a word will not be understood you may click on it: by doing so, it will be immediately translated into your mother tongue and each word you've clicked on will be stored in a learning section within your app. After you've finished watching TV via, you can look up the words you've stored and start learning with your individualized learning content.


But is even more: helps with Integration

Understanding a language is a first step for a successful integration. Since this summer the persistent tide of refugees has led to the situation that German language courses are booked out for months and we, the citizens of the host countries, are facing the challenge and the obligation to integrate those people who arrived and escaped from terror, rapture and war. TV can play an important part as it facilitates culture and gives an insight in our lives here. Therefore enables that people who come here understand what moves the society of their host country and it helps them seeing things from a different angle. Therefore helps create connecting points, thus becomes an ideal tool for integration.


You're eager to hear more? Get into details (but first, please become a fan of our project here on and like the Facebook page - Thank you!).


Social goals of

Via we're facing different societal challenges and offer solutions for integration, the decrease of social conflicts, a better neighbourship and inclusion.



| local and foreign TV program will become understandable | is an integration tool: as local TV is not or hardly understandable for migrants and it is broadcasted in a foreign language - via they can follow the program more easily. With we enable that the world of experience of the local society will be perceived and what moves the local culture can be understood, as well as the concerns and worries the host society deals with but also which customs they retain, or what they laugh about. The host, the unknown being, can be analysed excellently and one learns how to deal better with the new homeland. As a sideline the language of the host country will be trained - the standard language as well as the dialect.


Building Bridges

| Dissemination through "barrage" |

Just developing an understanding of the inhabitants of the host country is too narrowly considered to create a basis of coexistence without friction. There need to be measures that local population will open by themselves. In a further stage of development, the local citizens can approach the migrants and help them on an individual basis to improve their language skills. Thereby the technical barrier helps the population reduce resistance towards the unknown and gives each migrant a picture - this could be a first step towards the opening of society.


Does really help learning a language?

We wanted to know that exactly: that's why we have commissioned the university of Vienna to carry out a research study with the topic "Untertitel als Sprachlernwerkzeug" (Subtitles as a tool for language learning). This study, which has been carried out under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Boeckmann, came to the result that the approach of substantially improves the acquisition of languages. As a small number of studies cannot report positive effects when using subtitles for language learning, the majority of research studies came to another offspring.


But not only language skills will be significantly improved - In addition to that, further positive effects have been reported: TV as a source for language learning leads to a very motivational learning environment - Krashen's theory of the "Rule of forgetting", on which builds up says that users seem to "forget" they're learning because they're enjoying what they do and they're having fun, so the entire learning process comes easier and the information acquired are retained longer. Along with that also the improvement of reading competences have been reported. users learn in a surrounding which motivates them to improve foreign language skills as they are doing what they love to do: watching TV.


How do we work? stands for open interchange. We love languages and different cultural backgrounds. That may also be the reason that all co-founders come from different countries with different mother tongues. A setting like this enriches everyone of us and it helps to view things from a different angle. We see every person who applies himself/herself at as an enrichment for what we're doing. As a matter of fact we're looking for people with an international background to join the team so that it stays colourful and international. By doing that we do not only achieve the goal of expanding our own language horizon, but it would also help implementing different points of view from different countries and cultures: Our main goal is to build bridges. Social romanticism? No! A product like needs to set an example in the microcosm of how cross-border and cross-language collaboration works. Of course this is something we’re still learning ourselves, but openness, open communication and embracing someone with open arms are our principles.


A movement - become part of it

In order to reach our goals we're working on, seeking for solutions together with broadcasters and including schools, friendly societies and helping hands in our development. Our vision is that via a movement will be created and as a first step we want to make a learning hub out of In case you share that vision we're happy that you participate in order to reach that goal.


Your HELP helps - Support us

We would love to realize in seven-league boots but we need to follow the way of small steps. For this reason we have structured our funding goals into small steps. As soon as the threshold value of a certain step has been reached we are able to realize the funding steps quicker. Additionally, all of our funders get an exclusive access to and you will be involved in the development process as we're eager to know what you want to have next in the product. We also ask you for feedback as we want you to love using 


Funding Steps

What can we achieve together? It starts with the first step...

10.500 EUR 

Our developer will have 10 months of time to develop a private beta version of Thereby a basic version of will be developed and one TV channel will be implemented.

18.000 EUR

Enhancement of the individual learning environment. Words which you've clicked on will be stored so that you can learn with your individual content with those words YOU don't understand.

30.000 EUR

Expansion of the individual learning section including didactic concept and crowdsourcing. 

48.000 EUR

Completion and Launch of beta version, dissemintion of the application and implementation of 3 additional TV-channels.

75.000 EUR

Launch of a final version based on the features mentioned above. Until now 3 persons have found a job working more or less full-time on 

110.000+ EUR

During the process of development we're collecting feedback from our users and we'll ask them which features they love to have implemented. Our goal is to build a product you really love using, a product which doesn't get out of your head anymore. You'll give us your input and we will convert your ideas as best as we can.

Help us and become part of it. The name of every supporter who donates at least 6 EUR will be put on website, every supporter donating more than 22 EUR will receive a personal thank-you letter. Those who support us with more than 66 EUR will receive unlimited access to App - for a lifetime.


Thank you so much!

We may not have answered all of your questions. We're answering open questions from you to the extend deemed possible and we're trying to expand these sections here then.


One more plea to all donators: Please unfold your email address via so that we can keep you informed about the current standing of our development. In case you prefer to send us your email personally please drop us a line via ask_uu(at) will be developed under the aegis of Verein fürSPRACHE, a public charity that develops concepts for a better linguistic and cultural integration of migrants. fürSPRACHE initiates studies together with universities and other research institutions.



  • Total budget
    € 12.000,-
  • - Own resources
    € 2.500,-
  • Funding target
    € 9.500,-
  • + Handling fee
    € 1.140,-
  • Target budget
    € 10.640,-
  • Funding threshold
    € 0,-
  • partial amount A (will be transferred if financing was successful)
    € 5.600,-
  • partial amount B (will be transferred after receipt of the interim report)
    € 2.800,-
  • Delivery date interim report
  • partial amount C (will be transferred after receipt of the complete project conclusion report; at least 10 % of the target budget)
    € 1.100,-
  • Delivery date final report
  • Project risks
    Legal framework
    Jurisdiction and legal rules are different from country to country. At the current stage of development we have resolved the German and the Austrian framework conditions. At this stage we do not see the need to clarify the legal situation for other countries as we're concentrating now on the Austrian and German market since our plan is to launch there first. In case we're successful we expect that broadcasters see the added value which is generated by and then are looking forward to cooperate with When Spotify started in Sweden in 2008 they convinced the big music labels from their concept.

    Translation in correct context:
    Some words have more than one meaning e.g. "hot". Hot may be translated within the context of temperature, as a synonym of "warm", but it can also mean "spicy" as well as "sexy". In case a weather forecast will be broadcasted and translates "hot" with sexy this might lead to a smile on the side of the audience but the translation is not correct. According to a research study of the University of Vienna this circumstance does not disturb the human guinea pigs concerning the correct understanding.
    The algorithm of will be designed in order that users can improve it via crowdsourcing so that in the future translations are set in the right context. This needs some time and is also depends on the quantity and correlates with the activity level of the language community.
  • Budget planning
    additional technical equipment.................
    1,500 EUR

    Software developer 800 EUR/8 months..
    8,000 EUR

    commission of
    1.140 EUR


    Explanation: Our software developer is a co-initiator of and stands up for the idea why he agreed to work more or less fulltime in return that his living costs are covered.






18.11.2015 23:32:30

Sandra Hartnig

wrote on 18.11.2015

Ich finde Euer Projekt richtig toll! Ich möchte Euch bitten das umzusetzen. Ich habe selbst einige Zeit im Ausland gelebt und habe damals selbst via TV meine Sprachkenntnisse verbessert. Bleibt dran! Ich wünsche Euch viel Erfolg....und wenn ihr da was zum herzeigen habt bitte melden!!!!

Final report

Final report in general

Background information
The motivation to develop dates back to 2003 when Philipp Etzlinger, the co-founder and initiator of, studied in Paris. This was long before smartphones existed. At the time he arrived in France his French was of mediocre quality. Armed with a notebook, a dictionary book – yes, a book made of paper – and a pencil he sat in front of the TV to watch the news on France2 in order to improve his French. Those words he didn’t understand he noted down on a notebook and, at the same time, he looked them up in the dictionary. Therefore he missed a lot of the broadcasts and content.

Talking with other people, Philipp found out that they faced these challenges as well and while digging more into this topic he stumbled upon a study from Kaplan International which stated that 82% of those learning English as a foreign language did  that via watching TV. The success of using TV as a source for learning languages can be verified in Scandinavian countries international films and TV series are not dubbed as that happens, for instance, (eg) in German speaking countries. The outcome is that every Scandinavian citizen has a much better English proficiency than the average German native speaker.

As a next step we wanted to find a scientific study proving that subtitles are an effective tool to learn foreign languages. We addressed that question to the University of Vienna and its Department of German as a foreign and second language. Under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Boeckmann, a meta-study has been conducted including nearly 50 research studies concerning that topic. The result was that the majority of these studies found relevant language improvements and attested the personal experiences made by the people we have interviewed on that topic.

While doing the research another aspect popped up: is an ideal tool for integration. Why? TV is a mirror of society and makes regional content understandable for non-native speakers. Users will therefore get to know what moves the society of their host country. They will learn about the traditions, the values citizens share or the challenges the host society is facing. Therefore connecting points have started to arise: is an effective tool that bridges the gap between migrants and the society of the host country. is a tool that offers a low-threshold access to society and the language.

Although we received a lot of positive feedback from the discussions and talks with the people we have interviewed, we wanted to know in a further step whether people valued this idea that much so that they would donate their own money to allow us developing a prototype of The question we asked to ourselves was: do people really want to see this project hitting the market? This first prototype should also give us the feedback from users on what should be improved, what they are expecting.

The outcome of the crowdfunding campaign was beyond our expectations. Within the half of the runtime of the crowdfunding campaign we have reached our funding goal. Instead of 60 days we have reached the goal within 29 days. Besides, has been awarded the 2nd place of the Austrian Refugees and Migration Award and has been honoured at the Call4Europe award. So these were the best premises for a bright future.


Description of the project realization
With the successful finalization of the crowdfunding campaign two new challenges arose. The project should be realized by the technical team that was in charge at that time. It turned out that the Software Developer didn’t have the adequate skills in order to turn the project into reality, therefore we needed to search for a replacement for him as well as for the CTO position. Instead Scott Fertig, a very experienced CTO, could be the right person to join He has an impressive vita with positions in startups as well as in multinational corporate environment where he led a team of 330 software developers. The challenge was that, on one hand, the new CTO needed to get acquainted with the project and needed to set up a new architecture as well as to build a new technical team from scratch. Therefore it was necessary to find the right people, able to develop the prototype with the limited financial resources we had. The resources we have claimed within the crowdfunding campaign were tailored to the negotiated amount quoted by the former software developer.

This might sound very negative, no, we felt a lot of tailwind when Wirtschaftsagentur Wien announced that succeeded in the Social Entrepreneurship Call which gave us the opportunity to go beyond a probable prototype and what we have designed for the crowdfunding campaign. Furthermore, we had a lot of echo from the press when we announced the hiring of Scott Fertig. All these moments were important as they showed us that we were on the right track. There have been a lot of downturns in the past years so this was more like an affirmation and created a vital momentum.

The architecture was designed in June, from that time on the search for the developers started as the requirements were known by then. After sourcing the Eastern European market for an appropriate developer we decided to hire a distributed developer from India who proved to have the sufficient skills and could perform the work within the given budget. The runtime for hiring someone inhouse would have been too short.

The first version, which was still very buggy, we held in our hands for internal testings and it came out at the beginning of September. For that also Sarah Pötzelsberger, a UI/UX designer who donated some of her time during the crowdfunding campaign in order to give us feedback on the usability, crafted a first basic design of the application. On the basis of that version we continued building further versions and considered the feedbacks we got from the smaller groups of first test users in order to find better solutions. Our goal with is to design a service that is actually used by our target group, a service they love.

The version that we have developed so far is still a closed version as we are still in the prototyping stage. From today’s point of view, we expect a pilot version to be released by the end of February 2017. At that point, we will open to a larger group of users.

Changes or delays during the development phase

As the complete tech team needed to be replaced it took some time to find appropriate successors. Therefore the initial start of the development delayed for nearly half a year. But finally we were able to push things forward, so that we were able to meet the deadline we had announced during the crowdfunding campaign.


Eventual problems

The problems we have been facing – major changes within the team – could be managed. The team is very experienced to tackle major challenges.


Goals we have reached

The aim of the crowdfunding campaign was twofold:

1) We wanted to find out whether people valued this idea and were willing to put in money to allow us develop a prototype.

2) Our mission is to find the easiest solution that combines language learning with an entertaining factor and therefore people who use forget that they are in a learning context, because they have fun while they are learning[1].


Willingness to donate money

We were quite sure that with we were building an amazing product. But this was only our point of view. We wanted to verify whether others shared our same vision and were willing to put money into, to allow us go on with the development. On one hand, this was a market test, but on the other hand it was also a first step to share our vision with a broader audience, so the crowdfunding campaign had also the function to make us interact more with our core group and build relations with media.


Our second goal was to communicate our mission, which is to find the easiest solution making language learning fun, so much fun that the user forgets to be in a learning environment. We’ve learned that, according to scientists, people learn more easily if they do something they love doing. So why shouldn’t we combine language learning and TV watching? The research the University of Vienna had conducted with us proved that we were on the right track, and the feedback we got from users was overwhelming: we have presented our solution in front of various groups of refugees and they were so amazed that they asked where they could download the service. When we made clear that we were still in the developing phase, they told us that they wanted to be informed as soon as was available and that they offered themselves as test users.



As the list of people we want to thank would be very long in case we mentioned everyone’s name, we would like to address our acknowledgements to everyone of you who supported us one way or another, not just during this campaign but since started. First of all I would like to thank my family: they have been standing by me since the beginning of the project and they understand that I have to do this, that I have to put into action although life within the family was not always easy as I’ve been away for a very long time. But I have realized that is my dream, I live for that as I see so many possibilities for to do good for the society and this is the reason why it is worth working on it.

As next I want to thank our team, Francesca and Scott, who are amazing partners and who complement the co-founders team. I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with you and together we are pushing the project to the next step. A cooperation is not always easy especially as we all have jobs besides working on and as we are still working remotely, but we are working hard on it so that we can reach our goal sooner: being able to fully dedicate ourselves to

We want to thank Wolfgang Freund, representing our partner Grama Schwaighofer Vondrak Rechtsanwälte GmbH, who did the complete legal due diligence as a pro bono which was more than a regular pro bono would be. As a result, Grama Schwaighofer Vondrak Rechtsanwälte GmbH came to the conclusion to take a share at and to do the legal consultancy for the future as well as they see the positive impact we are creating for society..

We want to thank Pavan Malji and Klemens Zleptnig who are currently responsible for the developments at and who developed the first versions as well Georg Adelmann who helped on the translation side, and we are very thankful for the contribution of Sarah Pötzelsberger who donated time in order to advice  us on usability issues and crafted a first design for the application.

In particular we also want to thank the team, especially Corinna Geißler. With the platform all the good things started, gave us the stage so that we could present our idea to a broader public, to people – like you - who want to change the world and make it a better place. We want to thank that allowed us to set up new connections. We are very thankful for winning the 2nd price at the Austrian Refugees & Migration Award in November 2015 and being awarded at the Call4Europe Award ALTHOUGH just existed as a demo. We want to thank all of you for believing in us and our ability to make it happen, for allowing us to work on and for sharing our vision. Of course this is possible only thanks to the many donators who believed and invested in us, although nobody knew us and we didn’t have any reputation on the market. We want to name these persons one by one: Sarah Reisenbauer, Michael Lukasser, Astrid Buchmayer, Enikö Balint, Bernhard Etzlinger, Ulrich Etzlinger, Daniel Fuhry, Erika Hummer, Christa Herrmann, M Ho, Gerald Söllinger, Martin Fritsch, Elisabeth Kreisel, Daniel Fuhry, Georg Adelmann, Fernando Sannazzaro, Wolfgang Gumpelmaier, der Verein Offenes Lernen, Josef Koppandi, UrsulaEtzlinger & the Jury of the team – Heide Schmidt, Irmgard Griss, Franz Fischler, Johannes Voggenhuber, Wolfgang Petritsch, Franz Karl Prüller.

Thank you! You were those who allowed us to get into the development phase.

[1] Rule of forgetting by Stephen Krashen.



Which sociopolitical purpose has the project fulfilled?

B) What is the socio-political purpose of the project?

We see that especially public broadcasters could play a much more important role within the integration process. Currently we are working with material from the public broadcasters and existing content as we are generating out of existing material educational content. People who come to a foreign country find it difficult to find their position in the host country. For some, this is already a challenge even though they are in the same language area, but in case one is forced to move to a country that is completely different in terms of culture etc. then people find it much harder to find their place. can be a long term-companion as enables to understand local TV and helps people via a low-threshold way to study how the society works, helping  them improve existing language skills.

Functional chain

The following impacts have been identified when using

-          Improvement of the language skills of the particular host country, including local dialects;

-          Gaining an understanding of local traditions, practices, values as well as what moves the society of the host country, what people are laughing about as well as which virtues they have;

-           Using leads to a significant rise in motivation of learning. This leads to an improved absorption of learning content;

-          Via the consumption of regional TV-broadcasts the integration process will be eased;

-          Refugees and users of are able to make daily routines faster on their own, as prepares them indirectly on these situations and therefore they wouldn’t depend so much on third parties anymore;

-          The ability to communicate will be facilitated, as users receive background information about what’s going on in the society and language barriers will be torn down. The fear of communicating with locals decreases and on both sides, local society & incoming people, the shyness and diffidence will be overcome.

-          Immigrants will become more accepted by the broad public as they see that their language is being understood and local values and rules are being accepted.


As streams TV broadcasts to the smartphone or tablet, it won’t be mandatory to own a TV set. Therefore, we create a low-threshold access for everyone.


Improvement of integration, reduction of cultural barriers as local content will be made accessible and understandable via refugees and migrants find it more easy to find it more easily to orient themselves and integrate themselves into the new environment. TV is a mirror of society and via everyone can examine the peculiarities of the society of the host country. Thereby we create a better starting point for those who come here so that they can more easily integrate. But the best thing is: can be used ubiquitous, in the tram, outside in a park or while one is in the waiting room of a doctor – as the service is portable and stored on the smartphone or tablet learning can take place everywhere.  

Via the implementation of local TV broadcasts, users get in touch with vernacular, this is an aspect that traditional language courses normally do not consider. Along with that, an easier integration will be possible.


Which people could be reached via is still in the prototyping phase, but based on that we are developing the next versions. As soon as we have reached the pilot phase, which will start in the second half of February 2017 - we will start testings with our core group. The people who will be in our core group are mainly people who want to learn German but have a high proficiency in English. The reason for that is that in our first version we will have implemented the language pair German-English. At a later stage we are planning the implementation of other languages as well.


Which impact did the project have on the people to whom we address

As we are still in development we cannot measure the impact that has on the society, nor the users who will be using the service in the future. The aim of that crowdfunding campaign was  to develop a first prototype in order to be able to make a technical proof.


Is there a sustainable benefit of the project? follows a sustainable way, what we have now is a first version for further developments. As we were able to get subsidies we can now continue on improving the current version. Creating the prototype was essential as we already got valuable feedback from our test users.


What are our next stepts? An outlook!

As already mentioned will start its pilot phase in the second half of February 2017. We want to gain your feedback: So in case you are learning German and are fluent in English and are eager to get a hand on please get in touch with us -> Send us an email to ask_uu(at) with the subject “pilot user”. Groups are welcome too! We have a limited the number of pilot users to a small number, so better be quick. In spring the next step will be to bring an investor on board in order to be able to make further developments and finally bringing to market.


You want to work with us?

You like what we’re doing? You are someone who wants to join and bring to the next level? We have a vast variety of duties and fields where you can bring in your talent. This starts at supporting refugees, building relations to partners and users, analyzing test results, writing blog articles or taking care of Social Media channels… Just drop us a line and why you want to do that and support as a volunteer! Linguists and foreign native speakers are very much welcome too – you will be the ones who will assist us when we’re implementing new languages! We appreciate your support! Our email address is: ask_uu(at)

What were the reactions of others to this project?

What were the reactions of third parties?

The general feedback was amazing, more that we have dreamt about. Migrants and refugees were amazed about the possibilities offers, politicians whom we presented saw the long-term impact could make as a companion who helps them finding their place in the society. We have conducted a survey in two schools and especially pupils were asking when will be available in order to learn foreign languages. Teachers valued the concept of as a highly motivational and effective tool for language learning in case the didactic concept and the gamification part will be implemented properly. Lifelong learners would use the tool in order to stay fit with their foreign language skills. Broadcasters we have been talking to found the concept interesting.



For what was the donated money spent?

The amount that could be realized during the crowdfunding campaign was spent on the software developer (8.000 EUR) and on hardware (1.500 EUR). Please find the invoices attached to this report.

Donate time

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Donate time

Still required: 86 Hours
Very important for the resounding success of is that has a high level of dissemination. So in case you are a PR-pro we’re looking forward that you participate actively and create an appropriate communication strategy and take over PR activities and accompany during the Project phase.
Still required: 0 Hours
You have a good eye for estethics and design and don’t just understand fundamental concepts of UX? We’re looking forward to your support with your know-how at and give that special character uu deserves.

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