Published: 09th October 2019
Why delivery guys and struggling students are learning basic English on an app called Utter
Ninad Vengurlekar, co-founder of Utter app speaks about solving English learning mystery for cab drivers and delivery persons
Gone are those days when English was taught and learnt within four walls of the classroom, using textbooks and guides. Now everything is available at your fingertips, on your smartphone! One can learn English by messaging or even through video calls. Utter is an app, developed by Amit Bhadbhade and Ninad Vengurlekar, which can help you learn the English language through an online chat system. It is not just for freshers, but also for blue-collar workers like cab drivers or food delivery persons, who want to have a better grasp of the language.
After spending a considerable amount of time in the EdTech industry and understanding the needs of the industry, Amit and Ninad collaborated on a few other projects before they developed this app. They went to many rural parts of India to understand the demand for such an app. Ninad says, "We found that everyone wanted to learn the language and master it. Therefore, I pursued a few English courses from the British Council. Then I started taking private English classes for school and college students. One of my students suggested that English can be learnt easily by the chat system instead of sitting in classrooms and doing exercises given in grammar books. Therefore, we created a Whatsapp group. Many students would post their messages and tried messaging in basic English. But I found a lot of grammatical errors in the sentences and they were not framed properly. It became complicated to correct every mistake of each student that I came across. That's when we came up with Utter."
All Indian languages: The app also has translation features so that one can understand English easily
Initially, the team tried working on developing the online chat system and checked if it worked out. There were thousands of users, including students and working professionals, who made the best use of the app and tried learning English that could help pass their job interviews or communicate well with teachers, professors and business clients. As the users increased, their demands also increased. Hence Ninad and his team decided to add new and different features to the app which includes English Conversation, English Grammar, Business English, translation feature to nine different languages like Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi and so on.
Ninad says, "The Business English feature was mainly added not only to help professionals but also help the cab drivers and delivery persons. We tied up with a few companies who hired and trained these people in various skills and offered them our app to improve their English. Once I met a cab driver and asked him - if given a chance, what would you like to learn in the English language? He replied I would not like to become a Hollywood hero by speaking English as they do. All that he wanted to learn was to learn simple sentences like 'Can I call you later?' 'I will be late because I'm stuck in traffic', 'I am waiting near the restaurant and much more.' And that's what we teach these people now. It helps them communicate easily with the customers wherever they are. In case if they don't understand, they can use our app to get words translated into their mother tongue. Everything gets translated in a few seconds. Now there are over one million users from different parts of the world who have downloaded Utter and use it for three months until they perfect some words at least."