Meet the new ELSA 2.0

Since ELSA 1.0 released in March 2016, nearly half a million users from more than 100 countries  have enjoyed learning with ELSA.  You told us what you wanted, and we listened.

We have been working tirelessly to make the best virtual speech coach even quicker, sharper, and smarter. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce ELSA 2.0 – available to all users (Android first). This new version has been redesigned around you – to help your learning become easier, faster, and more fun.

What you’ll discover in ELSA 2.0:

You’ll find 400+ lessons with 2000+ most common English words ranging across a variety of daily-life topics, so you can practice the “real-world” conversations like ordering food and drinks at restaurants, checking in at the airport or landing your dream job.  


Learning should be fun! We have redesigned ELSA to bring even more fun to your learning experience. You’ll soon realize that by mastering each skill (scoring 80% or above of that skill), you’ve conquered a planet in a whole galaxy system, and will have the motivation to come back for more. It’s not only learning, it’s a mission now!


Starting today, your learning with ELSA will become a unique experience for you and only you. Take an assessment test with ELSA, and the new curriculum will be tailored to your level of English proficiency, enabling you to improve faster. This means that you’ll improve quicker by only focusing on the weakest parts.  ELSA listens to you, and like a personal speech coach would, it challenges you where you need practice.


Probably one of the most important things about learning is tracking your progress. Now in ELSA 2.0 you can see your overall speaking proficiency score and easily track your improvement over time. Additionally, the Word Bank feature allows you to come back and practice any words you’re still stuck on from your prior sessions.


With all of these changes in the new version, we are also announcing that ELSA will offer you 7 days for free with unlimited learning content. After that, we will charge a very minimum amount so that everyone can afford it. However, if you still want to use ELSA but can’t afford the amount, please reach out to us. We’ll be happy to consider offering you alternative ways to get premium features so that you can unlock your potential. We do believe that English is for all.

Try the new app and let us know your thoughts!

The new version is now available for Android. The iOS app will be ready for beta testing in a few weeks. Please use the app and reach out to us at if you have any ideas or feedback, we’d love to hear from you!

This is the start of a new stage for ELSA, and from now on it can only get better. Let’s start exploring!

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#ELSAStory – Thi Nguyen – HUGE ELSA Fan!!!

Welcome back to #ELSAStory! This week, we interviewed Thi Nguyen, someone who attended ELSA’s offline event and has been very interested in what we do here!

“Ever since Vu Van came to Saigon to talk, I became more interested in ELSA. I’m also going to the ELSA offline meeting tonight!”

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  • Where are you from, where have you lived?
    • Answer: “I’m from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and have lived here my whole life”
  • In a few words, describe how being an English Language Learner has affected your living on a daily basis.
    • Answer: “I learn English every day, but I don’t use it everyday. We don’t speak English much in Vietnam, but speaking English has given me the chance to meet a lot of people and I’ve given talks here and communicate with a lot of people from different countries. Before I spoke, people didn’t understand me much, but as I focused more on my pronunciation, people understood me better.”
  • Tell us about one time when not being confident and great at speaking English severely affected you
    • Answer: “There are cases when i speak and people don’t understand — it’s very embarrassing. I’ve tried to spell out the word, which makes me really sad.”
  • What have you done to improve your English speaking skill and gain your confidence? Have you succeeded?
    • Answer: “To improve, I’ve been using a lot of different applications, especially ELSA. ELSA helps with pronunciation, and some other applications as well. The combination is awesome. My English has gotten a lot better.”
  • Do you think you’d be more successful if you were better at English? If so, then how?
    • Answer: “Of course! There’s no doubt! If I was better at English, I’d be more confident, and it sounds cool if you master a language. Being bilingual is really cool.”
  • Was there ever an embarrassing situation when you said something and someone misunderstood you because of the way you pronounced the word?
    • Answer: “I think only when people don’t understand me and have to repeat myself. It’s always embarrassing when I mispronounce words multiple times in a row and have to spell out the word.”
  • Do you have any advice for other English Language Learners?”
    • Answer: “I think from my own experience, I would say when they start learning English, try to learn pronunciation first. It’s like the best thing ever. THe first thought should be pronunciation. Words and grammar are ok, but it doesn’t mean anything when you can’t pronounce them correctly! That’s the problem with education here in VN — we know the words, but we don’t know how to pronounce them and we can’t understand native speakers!”

Thanks so much Thi for your participation!


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10 English Pronunciation Errors by Japanese Speakers

If your native language is Japanese, you might find some sounds in English to be more difficult to express than others. English is a tough language to learn. ELSA presents you with 10 common pronunciation errors made by Japanese speakers.

1: /r/

Japanese English learners are unable to pronounce /r/ or confuse between the /r/ and the /l/, because the sound /r/ doesn’t exist in Japanese

To pronounce the sound /r/ correctly, the corners of your lips come in (slightly rounded). The tongue tip is up and curled slightly back over the tongue slightly. Remember, the English ‘r’ sound is called a semi-vowel, meaning it is a lot like a vowel rather than a consonant. And like a vowel, the tongue tip should NOT touch anything in your mouth

“The rat made a right turn into the house.”

2: /l/

It’s tough for Japanese English learners to control the movement of their lips in the pronunciation of /l/ — the forward motion of the lips distorts the sound.

To create the /l/ sound, your lips are completely relaxed and slightly open, but they don’t move and are not rounded. The tongue tip is pressed against the upper tooth ridge and touch the upper ridge.

Lauren likes the new lights.”

3: /z/

In Japanese, /z/ is never at the end of the word and is always substituted with /s/. The sound /s/ and /z/ are very similar to each other, but one is voiced (/z/ sound) and the other one is unvoiced (/s/ sound). Think a hissing sound for /s/, and a buzzing sound for /z/.

To fix, place the front of the tongue close to the tooth ridge (keep the tip close to the upper backside of the top front teeth. Keep the tongue tense as air is pushed between the small groove along the center of the tip and the front of the tooth ridge

We all rise for the national anthem.”

4: Word Stress

Japanese English speakers place equal stress on each syllable, which can make some longer words unclear. Remember to place your stress on the correct syllable by speaking it louder, longer and with higher tone, rather than putting an equal stress on each syllable.

Apparently, it’s very complicated.”

5: Added Syllable

Japanese speakers sometimes add an extra ‘o’ sound after consonants at the end of some syllables. You need to be careful and not add an extra ‘o’ sound. For example, market would be pronounced mar-ket-o, training = trai-ning-o.

“James made a very nice soup.”

6: /θ/

This is unvoiced, meaning only air passes through the mouth. To make this sound, the very tip of the tongue comes through the teeth. The rest of the mouth remains relaxed.

“I think that my father is going out today.”

7: /i:/

Japanese learners substitute this with /ɪ/ in English because they find difficulty in elevating the tongue. Stretch your lips as if you’re smiling, keep the tongue tense.

“I need to meet a friend who needs help.”

8: /eɪ/

This is a diphthong, your mouth will change position and shape when you fuse the two vowels together. Start on the position of /e/ and finish on /i/ . We keep our lips stretched like we’re smiling, but our mouth will close as we get closer to the /ɪ/. Push the tongue forward It’s similar to saying ‘ey-uh’, but with ‘uh’ being said very rapidly.

It’s tough to play the game that they created.”

9: /ӕ/

Often substituted by /ɑː/ or /e/. To fix, make sure to stretch and lengthen the vowel /e/ when speaking. With repetition, you will begin to understand the differences between the vowels.

The cat in the back is extremely fat.”

10: /w/

Japanese learners struggle to use /w/ to connect a word ending with /uː/ or /ʊ/. To correctly pronounce the /w/ sound, keep the jaw mostly closed and the lips formed in a small, tight circle.

Would Wbody like to have lunch with us?”

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#ELSAStory – Surya: Zero English – English Class Star!

Welcome to this weeks #ELSAStory! Today, we talked to a friend of ours who just immigrated to the United States of America from India.

Our friend, Surya, is from the small city of Gwalior, India. He grew up speaking Hindi, and didn’t feel the need to learn English until he got to high school. He moved over to Delhi for high school, and was shocked to see that most of the kids there were fairly proficient at English. Surya felt very out of place as he started school here — he had to think of something quick in order to learn.

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To begin his journey, he started attending English classes taught by a retired professor who lived in the same housing tract as him; however, this wasn’t enough. Surya wanted to learn English even faster. A good friend of his, Takumi, who lives in Japan and knew him from a summer trip the two had met on, reccomended that he use ELSA! Surya, at first, had tried to learn from various other apps on the iPhone App store such as Duolingo, and HELLO English, but fell in love with using ELSA.

ELSA gave Surya the feedback he needed to really improve his speaking ability. We asked him:

How did ELSA help you speak better English and better prepare you for your English classes with that retired professor?

Surya: Well, using the ELSA application on my new iPhone helped me a lot because my pronunciation was getting a lot better, and I found myself doing much better than the other people in my class. When I started taking the classes a few months ago, I was towards the bottom compared to all the other people in the class; however, once I started using ELSA, I found that the other people there were shocked at my speaking ability. They all asked me what my secret was. A lot of them don’t have smartphones, so they could not use ELSA, but they were definitely very impressed by the app when I did a small demo for them.

All in all, ELSA served to be a great catalyzer for Surya’s English speaking journey. We asked him:

How long did you spend a day using ELSA?

Surya: I would use it when I woke up, and before I went to asleep, about 15-20 minutes a day. It helps a lot. I recommend all people to do the same.

10 minutes a day is all it takes to improve your pronunciation! Surya is one of thousands of success stories ELSA has had. Tune in next week for another great #ELSAStory!

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#ELSAStory – The Story of Pejman: $700 to $20 billion.

This week, we’re going to do something different. Rather than interviewing someone with a set of questions, ELSA is going to tell a story about someone. This week, we tell the story of Pejman Nozad, Co-Founder of Pejman Mar Ventures, a well-respected Venture Capital firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Pejman grew up in Iran, and was a huge soccer fan — he hosted the most popular sports radio show in the country. He had fallen for a girl he grew up with as well. In 1992, he left his native Iran and moved to the Silicon Valley, with just $700. Pejman didn’t speak English, and his job as a sports radio host did not help him at all in getting a job in the area. He worked in a yogurt shop, and lived in the attic of the shop. One day while watching TV in that same attic, he saw an ad for the Medallion Rug Gallery — they were hiring. He immediately picked up the phone and called them. He got the job.

While working at the rug gallery, he asked lots of questions, he was curious, he learned about the “world around him.” He eventually told his boss, “We need to start a tech venture fund.”

It was tough at first, since most of the clients were coming straight from bigger meetings on Sand Hill Road, but Pejman and his boss served tea in the back of a store. They made some bad investments at first, but their luck changed in 2000, when they funded Andy Rubin, founder of Android. Today, the companies he has invested in are worth more than $20 billion.

Pejman accomplished all of what he did from 1992 until now while being an English language learner, like you and me. He took classes at a community college when he first came to America to learn English. He never gave up, and is now very, very, successful. You can do the same! All you need to do is persevere and never give up on what you want.

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#ELSAStory – The Story of Aman – Relationship or Relationshit?

Welcome to Part 4 of ELSA Speak’s Interview series! Today we interviewed Aman Agarwal. Aman grew up in Jaipur, India, and made his way over to California to study at Stanford University this past year. Aman took huge steps to perfect his English — check out his story here.

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  • Where are you from, where have you lived, etc.
    • Answer: My name is Aman Agarwal and I am from Jaipur, India. I had lived in America for the last year to do my studies at Stanford University.


  • In a few words, describe how being an English Language Learner has affected your living on a daily basis.
    • Answer: Not being very good at English affected me because all of the other students around me were more than proficient at the language. It made me feel very behind compared to everyone else.
  • Tell us about one time when not being confident and great at speaking English severely affected you
    • Answer: One time, my group of friends and me were gathered together at someone’s house. We were talking about our past boyfriend and girlfriend and I referred to my current relationship as “relationshit.” Everyone started to worry about me even though I was very happy with where I was.”
  • What have you done to improve your English speaking skill and gain your confidence? Have you succeeded?
    • Answer: I started doing some English classes online, just some free ones which I found — they helped a lot. Also, just talking to new people and making new friends helped my English a lot as well.
  • Do you think you’d be more successful if you were better at English? If so, then how?
    • Answer: I think I would be a lot more successful – studying at Stanford was very tough for me because everyone around was very smart, and I wasn’t as competent as them because of my English. If I spoke better, I’d be more successful.
  • Do you have any advice for other English Language Learners?
    • Answer: Do not be afraid to go out and ask for help. Asking for help is not a bad thing, and you should not be scared. Everyone will try to help you, not the opposite. Good luck to your English learning journey!

Aman worked extremely hard this past year to perfect his English. Being at one of the best schools in the world and having that disadvantage was tough for him; however, he made the best of it and now has lots of stories to tell. Tune in next week for our next #ELSAStory!


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10 English Pronounciation Errors by Hindi Speakers

If your native language is Hindi, you might find some sounds in English to be more difficult to express than others. ELSA presents you some of the most common errors made by Hindi-speakers.

1: /v/ vs /w/

Most speakers replace English /v/ and /w/ by [V] — because of this, the difference between “vest” and “west”, or even “vine” vs “wine” is lost.


“I wear a vest when I travel to the west.

2: ‘t’ can sound like ‘d’

Some speakers pronounce “they” like “day”

“Katie drinks a lot of water”

3: “R” is pronounced as a trill /r/

The “r” sound is very trilled — for example, in “Ferrari” there’s quite a bit of vibration of the tongue. You must relax the tongue.3“I drive a Ferrari.”

4: Indian speakers sometimes replace /s/ for /z/

“House” has /s/ as the final sound whereas “noise” has /z/. Indian speakers are used to a ‘spelling pronunciation’ — they go by the sound suggested by the spelling.

Their house is very noisy.”

5: Some Indian speakers have problem with vowels and thus don’t know the difference between “tell” and “tale” or “cot” and “caught”

Indian languages have fewer vowel sounds — so it’s important for speakers to be aware of differences between certain vowel sounds

“He will tell you a tall tale

6: Indian speakers sometimes place the accent on the wrong syllable of a word.

For example, the word “tournament” might be pronounced “tawr-na-ment”

“The tournament is going to start”

7: ‘Th’ vs ‘da’

To avoid this, the tongue needs to go between your teeth to make the “th” sound.

“That man is very daring and cool”

8: ‘S’ vs ‘sh’

Some new English speakers have this issue — the difference between “Sue” vs “Shoe”2“Sue bought herself new shoes”

9: /ɔ:/ sound

Indian learners like to replace the long vowel /ɔ:/ with /ɑ/

“She was born to live in a dorm”

10: Indian speakers have trouble with aspirating sounds such as p, t, and k.

Aspirating while using these sounds makes a big difference in being understood.

People talk to me all the time.”

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3 Life Lessons from Megan Smith, CTO of America

Vu Van and the Elsa team is privileged to attend the GES 2016 at Stanford University. Yesterday at the conference, the Elsa Team met with Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America.

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Here are the 3 top things we learned from Megan Smith:

1. Grow your TQ (Technical Quotient)

TQ, similar IQ and EQ, measures your propensity to be good at technology. Like most things in life, TQ can be developed through practice. If you think you’re not good at technology, then just practice using your technology, and your TQ will grow.

2. Join the conversation

There’s a conversation going on in the world right now, between the people who build and use technology, and the people who make the laws/policies around technology (like Megan Smith). Megan Smith told us that she and President Obama are very concerned about how they’re going to bring everyone into the conversation. They hear from tech CEOs in the bay area, but they don’t hear enough from the engineers/founders who make those technologies. At GES, Megan Smith pleads in a serious tone:

The people who make the technologies come from all over the world. All genders. All colors. They represent humanities greatest talents. We want them to join our conversation.

If this is one of you, please join Megan Smith and the White House in conversation. Say what you think, over Twitter, YouTube, Medium. Fluency in English not required.

3. Learn to code

Megan Smith and Obama recently started the program “Computer Science for All.” She explains excitedly:

It’s a program to encourage all schools in the United States to offer computer sciences classes to their students. And to encourage the media, to be aware of what they’re doing to make it harder for people to play in tech. Because we showing on TV Computer Science classes with 10 to 1 boys to girls ratio. Kids watch TV.

Kid see things that make them think that that’s the way the world should be. But that’s not the way the world has to be.

Megan appeared a frustrated at what’s going on in the world.

Then, a twinge of courage flashes through her face.

Thank you for joining this conversation. I’m really appreciative of all of you joining this conversation.


Author: Tia Gao

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#ELSAStory – Meet Vahan Aslanyan: Wrong stress = “Jumble of sounds”

Welcome to the second part of ELSA’s Interview Series! I now introduce Vahan Aslanyan! Vahan grew up in Yerevan, Armenia and started school at the University of California, Berkeley this past year. Vahan took major steps to improve his English – we asked him a few questions and he was ecstatic to share his English-learning journey.

  • Vahan, where are you from, where have you lived?
    • Vahan: I am from Yerevan, Armenia. I lived there my whole life before starting school at Berkeley.
  • In a few words, describe how being an English Language Learner has affected your living on a daily basis.
    • Vahan: Learning American English took a lot of energy during my first semester. However, as I got accustomed to English, it was not a big deal anymore. On the bright side, being a language learner helps me organize my thoughts better as they pass through more filters.  
  • Was there ever an embarrassing situation when you said something and someone misunderstood you because of the way you pronounced the word
      • Vahan:  I also know Russian; Russian language borrowed some English words. Whenever I wanted using that word I would pronounce it in Russian, confusing my listener. I would put the stress on wrong vowels and all they could hear was a jumble of sounds.


  • Tell us about one time when not being confident and great at speaking English severely affected you
    • Vahan: People speak faster in America, so it was hard to keep up with the pace of my peers. Not being confident in your speech makes you appear uptight too and that is not the impression you want to give people when you meet them.
  • How have you improved your English? Has it been successful?
    • Vahan: I am far from reaching the level. Just living in an English speaking environment helped me improve my speaking skills by catching up with their pronunciation and learning common phrases present only in daily speech.
  • Would you be more successful if you spoke English at a higher level? Why or why not?
    • Vahan: Better knowledge of English is an advantage when you are applying for any program abroad. It is the accepted international language for most international companies and if you want to speak with someone who doesn’t know your language, you should speak to them in English.
  • Do you have any advice for other English Language Learners?
    • Vahan: Practice makes a good base, but if you really want to speak English you need to challenge yourself to get out of the safety zone. It is also important to have people criticize your pronunciation and correct you when you speak to avoid letting those mistake become a permanent part of your speech.

English as a second, or even third language is very tough. Vahan was accepted to one of the best colleges in the world and persevered through all the adversity which came with not knowing American English very well. He’s now a very successful Math major at Berkeley and aspires to do great things. Vahan can do it, and you can do it too!

Tune in next week for another great story! Let us know if you have a story to share!

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Speak Your Way to Europe #EuroWithElsa


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You heard it right! You can win a FULLY PAID round-trip airfare ticket to one city in the country that wins the EURO championship this year! We’re choosing one ELSA user to go on the adventure!

As the EURO Cup 2016 is happening, ELSA has released a new module with the theme of soccer. We want to help you in your English learning journey by incorporating what’s trending, as well as reward you for practicing!

How do I enter?

Eligibility: The Campaign is open to current ELSA Android users who have completed the first 10 levels in the ‘Euro Cup’ module on ELSA app and who are 18 years of age or older (worldwide).

Download our free ELSA Speak app for your Android phone here.

To enter the promotion, please follow the steps below:

Step 1: Share with us your video (30 second maximum) talking about your favorite team of the EURO Cup 2016 or your favorite destination in Europe, in English. There’s no limit on creativity. Submit as many videos as you want. The more entries, the higher chance to win.

Step 2: Use the hashtags #EuroWithElsa and #ELSASpeak.

Step 3: Tag @elsa_speak and submit your video on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

Read more about rules and eligibilities here.

What do I win?

Our Winner will receive a free round-trip airfare to the home of the EURO 2016 Champion!

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Winner will be announced at the end of the EURO Cup 2016. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to get notified when you win!

You can contact us via Facebook or email for any questions. 

For more information, check out our website here.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and #EuroWithElsa!




Trong cơn sốt của giải bóng đá Euro 2016…

Bạn có bao giờ mơ về một chuyến du lịch Châu Âu?

Hãy cùng học nói tiếng Anh với ELSA và biến giấc mơ du lịch Châu Âu thành hiện thực.

ELSA là một ứng dụng di động giúp các bạn đang học nói tiếng Anh có một trải nghiệm thuận lợi và dễ dàng. Không những thế, đội ngũ ELSA luôn cố gắng để cập nhập những chủ đề hot và mới nhất để bạn có thể luyện tập và áp dụng trong những cuộc đối thoại hằng ngày. Nhân dịp EURO 2016, ELSA vừa ra mắt các bạn học một chủ đề mới xoay quanh bóng đá. Các bạn có thể vừa xem EURO và làm mọi người xung quanh té ngửa vì vốn từ phong phú và phát âm ‘chuẩn không cần chỉnh’ của mình.

Trong cuộc thi lần này, một bạn may mắn đang sử dụng app sẽ được chọn để tiếp bước khám phá đất nước châu Âu vô địch EURO 2016 năm nay.

Làm sao để tham gia?

Điều kiện: Để tham gia chương trình, bạn phải hoàn thành 10 vòng đầu của topic Euro Cup trên app ELSA và ở độ tuổi từ 18 trở lên. 

Tải ứng dụng ELSA Speak miễn phí trên Android tại đây.

Thực hiện các bước như sau để tham gia cuộc thi:

Bước 1: Đăng một đoạn clip (tối đa 30 giây) chia sẻ về đội bóng đá yêu thích của bạn tại EURO 2016 hoặc về một đất nước Châu Âu mà bạn ưa thích nhất bằng tiếng Anh. Các bạn có thể thoả sức sáng tạo mà không cần lo lắng về giới han số lần nộp. Nộp càng nhiều lần cơ hội càng cao.

Bước 2: Sử dụng hashtags #EuroWithElsa#ELSASpeak

Bước 3: Đề cập @elsa_speak và nộp video của bạn trên Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Đọc thêm về luật chơi và điều kiện tham gia tại đây.

Mình sẽ thắng gì?

Người thắng cuộc sẽ nhận được một cặp vé khứ hồi miễn phí tới đất nước của nhà vô địch EURO 2016.

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Người chiến thắng sẽ được công bố vào ngày cuối cùng của mùa giải bóng đá EURO 2016. Bạn có thể cập nhật tin tức thắng giải trên những kênh mạng xã hội của ELSA: Facebook, Instagram và Twitter.

Mọi thắc mắc xin liên hệ ELSA qua Facebook hoặc email

Thêm thông tin cụ thể hơn, xin ghé qua website của ELSA tại đây.

Mọi người còn chần chừ gì nữa? Tham dự ngay và tiến lên với #EuroWithElsa!

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