January 1, 2012 marks the beginning of another year. What can we hope to accomplish by the end of this year? In the summer of 2012 ISpeakHindi.com will mark its 5 year of existence, and I will have been learning Hindi for more than 14 years. But I would have hoped to be further along with both my Hindi learning and with the site by now. Instead of letting another year go by with me just drifting along, I want to set out to achieve some very specific, measurable, significant goals. There are two sets of things I want to focus on: my own personal Hindi skills and the development of this site to support my goals and those of my fellow Hindi students.
Hindi Learning Goals
Be able to keep a journal in Hindi. Write about the things that I did, the people that I talked with, and my plans for the future. It will be basic elementary Hindi and will be lacking in depth. That I will worry about in future years. But for this year I just want to be able to keep track of the basics.
Be able to read children books in Hindi (elementary level) and summarize them.
ISpeakHindi.com Development Goals
1) Create a comprehensive dictionary on ISpeakHindi.com. Several thousands of the most common words. Example sentences for each word. Recordings of several different Hindi speakers saying each word and sample sentence. All the different forms of each word.
2) Allow for people to easily look up words in the dictionary, manage their own lists of words, create activities that people can do with their word lists such as word finds, word scrambles, crossword puzzles, and any other games we can think of.
3) Every episode should have a vocabulary list. Allow for people to add those words to their personal list of vocabulary to be learned. Allow people to look for new lessons based upon the vocabulary that they already now.
4) Every episode should have at least a 4 question quiz at the end.
5) Keep track of the lessons that people have learned, use that to ask review questions, suggest new lessons to learn from, create customized learning plans.
Add different “activities” that people can do. Example activities:
Translate this paragraph from Hindi to English or English to Hindi.
Describe a photograph. How many Hindi nouns do you know that are in the photograph? What adjectives could you use in relation to the picture? What are some actions that are going on? Can you create a story based upon the picture?
Summarize a paragraph in Hindi.
Transcribe an audio recording
assemble a set of Hindi words into sentences
Allow for Hindi learners to define goals (similar to my Hindi learning goals above), create steps to meet those goals, get suggestions from other people on the site about how to meet those goals, and to track progress towards those goals. Encourage each other to meet our goals and to celebrate when people meet their goals on the site. Add ways to find people with similar goals.
More Feedback to the Learner
Allow for people to record themselves speaking Hindi, and get feedback on their pronunciation. Same true for writing of Hindi or translating from Hindi to English. (This ties into the activities mentioned above.)
Allow for people to create groups online to study together. perhaps they are all first year Hindi students, or perhaps they are all going to India about the same time. Or perhaps it is a group that meets in person. Be able to provide tools to coordinate and plan meetings. Exchange ideas on what to do at the meetings. Keep track of who showed up. Provide games and other learning activities to do at the meeting.
It should be easy to find what you are looking for. If you are brand new to Hindi just wanting to learn a few words and phrases then after going to ISpeakHindi.com it should be clear where to go. If you need to look up a word, that should be easy. If you have finished one lesson, then there should be some options on what the next one needs to be.
More professional looking site
The site should look professional. Formatting should look right. It should be easy to use.
Currently I spend a lot of time working with the logistics of creating lessons, editing the lessons, etc. I would like to spend more time focused on the content and the intent of a lesson. To do this, I hope to create a set of tools to create scripts for lessons. And be able to send out requests to Hindi speakers to records the Hindi parts. Then be able to quickly organize it into a lessons.
Fast, responsive, and reliable site…
Better iPhone/iPad Support
Be able to listen to a podcast and read the script at the same time. Make the site look like an app on iPhone and iPad when viewed from the iPhone/iPad. Have a “Hindi keyboard” that will be easy to type on these devices.
Be able to do the master 4 words a day, view dictionary, etc. on the iPhone/iPad. Make creative use of the touch interface.
No physical products
I would like to get rid of all the physical products: books, workbooks, etc. and focus only on products that can be delivered electronically. Why no physical products? Well, I can only economically ship in the US, and the time and energy spent on stocking, delivering the products could better be spent on improving the site which helps everyone, all over the world.
Goals that crossed my mind that I decided not to have
I have very good metrics on the number of visits to the site, the number of pages that are displayed, the number of paid subscribers, the amount of Hindi merchandise for sold. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many people use the site or how much money it makes. The key is that it becomes the best possible site that it can be. And ultimately it needs to be usable by only two people: you and I. I think if I focus on creating a site that supports my Hindi learning goals and is fun for me to use, and that you also find useful, then it will make it into the hands of all those that need it. But if I spend time promoting the site that should be spent on improving the site when it falls short of the vision I have for it, then this is time misspent.