March 26, 2020

FIVE FROM FINLAND: Language services

Communication is the key to learning a new language.
Julia Bushueva

Developed in Finland, this range of language solutions provide ways to be understood and keep ourselves busy in these turbulent times.

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world resulting in lockdowns and little face-to-face social interaction, it also reminds us of the importance of communication and keeping our minds active through acquiring new skills or picking up new hobbies.

Learn a new language, be heard and understood with the help of this Finnish quintet.


Teaching a language by the book is good for reading and writing, but so often interaction is all about spoken words. This edtech company wants to help language learners listen and speak.

“Sanako has established two forks: we provide technology with specialism in language learning as well as cool tools that benefit our existing customers and content digitisation technologies and services,” said Mark Barratt, senior vice president at the time.


This language learning service activates several senses simultaneously and adapts to the needs of individual learners: for example, after a while the programme starts to change the pace to match that of the user. Additionally, WordDive aims at encouraging speaking and interacting in a foreign language.

“When one gains confidence with the basics, it’s possible to just focus on speaking the language. That’s where our strength lies,” explained CEO Timo-Pekka Leinonen.

The latest feather in the cap for the AI-based language learning app is the main prize in the education sector innovations category at the Quality International Awards, organised by Excellence Finland.

Rovio Entertainment

A few years ago, this Finnish entertainment giant teamed up with video language platform to provide English language learners a range of Angry Birds-themed interactive video courses.

“The combination of Rovio’s brand and content and papagei’s video learning technology results in modern language learning courses that match the environment of young digital natives,” underlined Dr. Michaela Meier, CEO at

Recently, the angriest Angry Bird, Red, was also dispatched on a mission to help its feathered friend and the official mascot of Duolingo language learning app, Duo. The two are set to encourage Duolingo users to keep up with their lessons and offer them extra inspiration.


Companies communicate with their customers through a wide variety of channels. This Finnish company specialises in making those messages heard across languages. Online translators offer ease and speed, while good human translators provide quality. Transfluent tries to give the best of both worlds.

“We stand in the middle of the so-called online translation services and traditional language service providers, as we produce agency quality but delivered with speed and convenience,” stated Lauri Kovanen, co-CEO at the time.


Calling a friend or a doctor’s office can be a challenge when you rely on the availability of sign language interpreters. Mobile app Chabla has set out to change this. The app connects anyone using sign language directly with an international network of interpreters and enables its users to make and receive interpreted calls whenever they want.

“Without Chabla it is almost impossible for someone who does not know sign language to call a deaf person,” noted Marko Vuoriheimo, CEO of Signmark Productions. “I have heard this explanation many times from people who say they cannot communicate with me. This app not only empowers the sign language community but enables everyday communication.”

The service is now available also for spoken language interpretation and covers over 80 languages.

Originally published in August 2018

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