The name “Creolio” comes from the word “creole”, which is what a new language is called that originated from two distinct languages being combined. It might be said that English is a creole, because it was formed when French combined with Old English during the Norman Conquest. For a more recent example, “Haitian Creole” is a distinct language that was formed by a combination of French, Portuguese, Spanish, English, and West African languages.
And that’s what the Creolio project is about. It is an effort to combine two languages–however, not for the sake of creating a new langauge, but for the sake of being able to learn one or the other of the two languages more easily.
The primary way this goal is expressed in the Creolio project is through mixed-text adaptations of works of literature that have been created through a special translation process.
The Creolio method of translation utilizes three primary concepts, the combination of which results in learning materials that are completely unique in the marketplace of language-learning, and which are designed to foster the most psychologically efficient means of learning for students possible:
- Mixed-text materials
- Frequency-based learning
- Active choice-based learning
Though little known to the mainstream language-learning market, the creation of mixed-text materials has been tried many times in the past–perhaps most famously by Robbins Burling as long ago as 1968 in “Some Outlandish Proposals for the Teaching of Foreign Languages” and as recently as the cool guys from One Third Stories in Great Britain.
These mixed-text materials have historically relied on the intuition of the editor/teacher for their creation. The editor will combine two languages in such a way that he or she thinks will provide value to the student according to their own experience with language-learning.
Though reliance on intuition for the creation of these texts can be effective, it certainly has the potential to lack consistency and can result in an extreme investment of time to create the material, since every word and phrase must be painstakingly chosen by the teacher.
This is where frequency-based learning comes in.
Frequency-based learning takes into account the fact that some words are used vastly more often than others–both in general, and in specific contexts. For instance, the top three words in either English or Spanish account for about 10% of all speech in those languages. Just think about the word “in”, for instance, which has been used 6 times in this paragraph.
If we learn the most frequent words used in a language first, those words will form a foundation of context with which we can more easily learn the next most frequently used words. The most frequently used words are also easier to learn in simple consideration of the fact that they’re the words that we hear and read with the greatest amount of reinforcement and repetition.
When it comes to specific contexts, the word “scissors” might not be that useful or common in the whole of English speech, but if we are collaborating with others on a craft involving cutting paper or we’re getting our own hair cut, then the frequency of the use of that word is likely to skyrocket, and such contexts would be great opportunities to cement in our minds what that word means both because we are hearing it repeatedly and because we have a practical need to use the word in that context.
This concept can be applied to the creation of mixed-text materials, especially now thanks to modern computing methods. Instead of relying entirely on often inconsistent intuition, materials can be designed to introduce vocabulary in order of its frequency of use. This is the anchor for creating a repeatable process for the creation of mixed-text materials in an efficient way that is also effective for students.
Active choice-based learning
The repeatable process for creating these mixed-text materials that Creolio uses, being based on frequency (though it has evolved from there in complexity), will allow for any work of literature to be adapted to teach a language through a mixture of the two languages.
The power of this concept is not to be underestimated. This means that materials could be created that teach English to French speakers through “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” or that teach Spanish to English speakers through “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.
The ultimate goal of Creolio is to create a vast library of popular and classic literature to choose from for learning a variety of languages with.
This will allow students to choose not just the language that they want to learn, but the book through which to learn it. This results in the students having active choice in their unique language-learning process, which is an extremely powerful motivator for learning and memorization.
It’s taken 10 years to develop the existing process of translation that Creolio uses to adapt these works of literature. Most recently, the last 2 years have been spent developing “Stories de la Jungle”, which is an adaptation of Horacio Quiroga’s famous “Cuentos de la Selva”. During those 2 years, the translation process has been refined to the point of satistfaction as something both effective and repeatable. Though there is room for plenty of improvement upon this process, it is now solid enough that it can be utilized to create fantastic adaptations of additional works of literature, and at far greater speed.
Updates to the process will be continual as new works are adapted, new ideas emerge, more collaborators involve themselves, and more readers provide feedback.
The next step for Creolio after making planned updates to “Stories de la Jungle” and increasing its promotion is to develop a second book for learning Spanish through Spanglish from a different work of classic literature in the Spanish canon. Once this project is started, it is expected to take much nearer to 6 months than the 2 years that it took to develop “Stories de la Jungle”.
At the same time, an audio version of “Stories de la Jungle” will be in production, and a third book will be planned to teach English through Spanglish to Spanish-speakers through the use of a selected book in the English canon of classic literature.
In the early stages, all books adapted to the Creolio process will be books in the public domain. Later, contemporary books will also be adapted as royalty agreements are secured with their publishers and authors.
Further cultivation of the audiovisual adaptations of the Creolio method, such as the Creolio YouTube channel and podcast are also planned concurrently with the development of the books–possibly even a documentary will be produced.
Some other long-term goals:
- Adaptation of books in other languages, such as Chinese, French, and Russian
- The growth of the Creolio team, resulting in faster development times and a broader range of materials
- The development of an app, which might allow for the use of additional language-learning features and result in some independence from Amazon
- The creation of software that allows for greater crowdsourced collaboration and profit-sharing, resulting in faster development times
- Collaboration with independent authors worldwide to encourage independent authorship in all types of economies as well as the sharing of culture between authors and readers