Friday, November 16

3:00 PM  – 4:15 PM 

Rivergate Room
Ernest Morial Convention Center
New Orleans, LA 


Think Shark Tank at ACTFL 2018! In its second year, this event, sponsored by ACTFL and the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center at the University of Hawaii, features first-time entrepreneurs who have created a technology product intended to fill a need in world language education. A panel of experienced professionals and attendees will provide input and decide on a winner based on the pedagogical merits of the product.

2018 Finalists

Congratulations to this group of inspiring innovators who were selected for the grand LaunchPad finale at the ACFTL Convention & Expo in New Orleans.

App Banter logo
App Fluent Logo
App Outlier Logo
App "Read Alien" Logo


Inspired by the show Shark Tank, the competition consists of a 90-minute session at one of the convention venues during which a small group of startup companies pitch their innovation and receive feedback from a highly specialized audience of world language educators. The winner of the competition will receive an honorary plaque from ACTFL and the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center. All participating companies showcase and demonstrate their products at the Tech Center booth during ACTFL World Languages Expo hours on November 16 and 17, 2018.


  1. The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center) will provide shared booth space at the 2018 ACTFL World Languages Expo at no cost for qualifying participants.
  2. Exposure to thousands of language education professionals and several successful companies in the field during the ACTFL convention and through the Tech Center News and website.
  3. 2018 participants will be featured in publications, promotional materials and press releases.
  4. Inclusion in our network of innovators, which includes highly specialized professionals in the field of language learning technology.
  5. Mentoring time with 2017 Launchpad participants during the ACTFL Convention.
  6. Winners will be featured in promotional materials for future events.

Qualification Criteria

Companies must comply with the following criteria:

  • Must be a seed- or early-stage company (must not have raised over two million in funds from combined funding sources) with a main focus on the language education market.
  • Have a language technology product, process or service in use by customers or early beta (testing) customers at time of application.
  • Have not been an exhibitor at a previous ACTFL convention.

Competition Rules

  • Companies may present only one technology product, process or service and are responsible for protecting their own intellectual property (IP) rights.
  • Each company has an equal amount of time to present but may opt to forgo presentation time for feedback.

Important dates, times and locations

Launchpad Timeline

About the LaunchPad

The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center) and ACTFL are prime sponsors of the LaunchPad. The Tech Center is an initiative sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) and its mission is to enhance The Language Flagship experience through the effective use of technology.
The American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) hosts the ACTFL World Languages Expo, which brings together more than 8,000 language educators around the world from all languages, levels, and assignments.

ACTFL Attendee’s Interests

Reasons To Attend

Registration for the 2018 Launchpad is now closed.

Previous LaunchPad Events

App Banter Logo

Banter Language

Primary Audience: Government/Adult Ed., Graduate, Undergrad, Community College

Banter leverages geolocation to notify members of a community- such as a university- when there are native speakers of a language they are learning (who are also community members) in their vicinity. Banter crowdsources from their shared community trending topics that the users can rely on to start a rewarding conversation. Recommended topics are tied to the interests of the users and can therefore support users in jumpstarting outside-the-classroom interactions with community members who speak their foreign language. In addition to facilitating diverse and dynamic language use, the Banter system includes several patented features which allow authentic text and face-to-face chat to be saved and studied by users. These features include receiving feedback on your foreign language use from the native speakers you are engaged in conversations with, as well as the ability to save a series of texts as a “note” that can be categorized and reviewed as a means of studying syntax, vocabulary and pragmatic features. Foreign language students can then share their language notes with their instructors, turning Banter into a tool that not only bridges international and domestic students, but which also bridges outside-the-classroom use with in-class study for foreign language learners of all levels.

App Fluent Logo

Fluent Forever

Primary audience: Government/Adult Ed., Graduate, Undergrad, Community College, High School, Middle/Jr. High

Fluent Forever is a mobile app that is designed to teach users how to think in a new language, rather than translate. The app accomplishes this by taking users through ear training, simple word acquisition using pictures, and complex vocab/grammar acquisition using sentences. Users choose which words they wish to learn, and which combination of sentences, pictures, and flashcard types will best teach them those words. In the process of making these choices, the app will generate customized flashcards that are entirely in the target language, along with a customized flashcard study plan to help users memorize and internalize the vocabulary and grammar from their chosen words. In addition, a companion web app will enable students and native speaker tutors to collaborate, creating and recording new, personalized sentences for their studies in any language. These sentences will be shared with all other users in a community database that will grow rapidly over time. In practice, this will greatly enhance the existing resources for commonly learned languages and provide a completely new resource for learning minority languages.

App Outlier Logo

Outlier Linguistics

Primary audience: Government/Adult Ed., Graduate, Undergrad, Community College, High School

Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters | Outlier Kanji Dictionary is a dictionary of Chinese characters for learners of Chinese and/or Japanese which explains the underlying logic of the writing system, thereby allowing students to learn more efficiently. This dictionary contains everything about a character that’s essential to know in order to master that character: 1) an explanation of why the character looks the way it does, 2) an explanation of the character’s functional components and how they function within that particular character, 3) meaning and pronunciation, and how they relate to the form of the character, 4) stroke order, 5) examples of common vocabulary containing the character. For students who wish to dive more deeply into the history and evolution of the writing system, the Expert Edition contains more in-depth information about each character’s evolution, from its earliest form to its modern version, along with interesting historical tidbits about the character.

App "Read Alien" Logo

Read Alien

PRESENTED BY Michael Hines
Primary audience: Government/Adult Ed., Graduate, Undergrad, Community College, High School, Middle/Jr. High, Elementary

ReadAlien is a personalized language learning platform with two primary functions: recognizing a student’s learning experience and facilitating chats in the targeted language. Learners first acquire a foundation by importing their own prose (books, blog posts, new articles, etc) into the platform. ReadAlien cross-references all words learners have registered as ‘known’ and ‘not known’ and present them back in an interactive, intuitive reading experience. ReadAlien then uses data and context awareness to manage learners’ eLearning progress. Teachers are allowed to audit and prepare content for students in advance; then students (or anyone) can further personalize it to their skill level.

The second function is a chat experience where conversation is real-time assisted and overlayed with definitions from students’ own vocabulary. While in conversation, a teacher or expert can see instantly what words learners are struggling with, grounded in their own vocabulary at a particular point in time. With both products, students are provided with personalized content at their proficiency level. Learning the language in particular domains becomes a continuous and sustainable experience strictly under the learner’s control. With Read Alien, language education is no longer a process of rote memory, but instead a contextual, organic reading experience driven by data.

App "VEO" Logo


Primary audience: Government/Adult Ed., Graduate, Undergrad, Community College, High School, Middle/Jr. High, Translators, Language Schools

VEO revolutionizes language learning through video. Adding user-generated data feedback helps learners improve speaking and listening skills using quick and easy feedback.

VEO combines video recorded via any device, with time-stamp tagged data. Learners, peers and teachers capture key moments of speaking skill, jumping directly to these, making video accessible and convenient for learning. Additionally, tags build up quantitative stats of learner strengths and areas for improvement, providing clear metrics to motivate change, support learner collaboration and generate cohort profiles.

VEO comprises an online video tagging and sharing platform, and an optional live-tagging video recording app. Video can be livestreamed into the VEO platform for synchronous tagging at any distance.

Our platform is currently supporting large-scale global language learning pilots, creating opportunities for growing learning networks, based around observable speaking and listening skills. Additionally, clear tagged video evidence provides an efficient and transparent way to assess language learning at distance.

Spun out from Newcastle University in 2015, VEO is now working globally, from Australia to the Andes, with networks, companies, Universities and schools leveraging VEO’s capactiy to support efficient and effective practical learning at scale and distance.

VEO provides a means to learn language through experience, globally at scale.

Contact Information


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Moore Hall 256

Honolulu, HI 96822

(808) 956-5121

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