Speaking is one of the most difficult parts of learning a new language, especially if you don’t have one to practice regularly. ELSA There is an app that helps by using speech recognition technology to correct pronunciation. Located in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, ELSA announced today that it has raised a $ 15 million Series B led by VI (Vietnam Investments) Group and SIG. Other participants included endwear catelists and Globant Ventures as well as investors Google’s AI-focused fund Gradient Ventures, SOSV and Monk’s Hill Ventures.
The capital will be used to expand ELSA’s operations in Latin America and create a scalable B2B platform, allowing companies and educational organizations to provide the app’s coaching services to employees or students. Founded in 2015, ELSA, which stands for English Language Speech Assistant, now boasts over 13 million users. Its last round of funding was declared a $ 7 million Series A in 2019.
In addition to Latin America, ELSA will also focus on expansion in Vietnam, India and Japan, where it had high demand last year. The company recently formed a partnership with IDP and the British Council, which owns the widely used IELTS English language test and now recommends ELSA for test preparation. ELSA is working with language schools such as IMAP and Speak Up, online learning platform YOLA and corporate clients such as Kimberly Clarke, Intel and ATAD in Vietnam.
Wu Wan, co-founder and CEO of ELSA, told TechCrunch that many users want to improve their English-speaking efficiency for job opportunities and increase their earning potential. He said that higher English speakers in Vietnam, India and Brazil could earn about two to three times more than their colleagues.
“This inspiration is very much in demand for our English learning community in Vietnam, India and Brazil, especially during COVID-19, as we have also seen great interest from the LATAM region,” Van said.
In Vietnam, where the van is from, English learners spend a lot of their disposable income on online or offline English training. “However, most English learners still struggle to improve their speaking skills because others don’t understand them or they are afraid to speak it,” she said. The ELSA was designed to give them an accessible resource to help improve their pronunciation and confidence when speaking English.
Other apps focused on English pronunciation include Fluentu and Kaho. Van said that one of the main advantages of ELSA is its proprietary voice recognition AI technology.
“What’s unique about our AI is that we’ve collected the highest amount of accented English voice data from millions of users, which we’ve used over the years to train our AI models, which makes us non-recognizable And provides a higher accuracy in understanding. English speakers around the world, ”she said. “Other existing voice recognition technologies available can, by comparison, understand native speakers well, but non-native pronunciation learners have a harder time understanding them.”
Rather than providing feedback about individual words, ELSA’s app also corrects individual sounds and gives users detailed information on how to improve their pronunciation, including “very advanced plaintiff speaking features, such as phonetic , Helping to speak rhythm and fluent English more naturally, is something our competitors do not offer, ”said Vann.