If there’s one thing that 2009 proved, it’s that there’s nothing like an addictive game to keep people coming back to your service for more. Over the last year, we’ve seen Foursquare and Gowalla tap into this with their colorful badges, and Zynga is making a killing off games like Farmville. But what if you could turn that habit into something that might actually be helpful to school or your career? That’s the premise behind Lingt, a new startup that’s looking to leverage gameplay elements to help with the mother of all repetitive tasks: learning a new language.
The Y Combinator funded company is launching today in public beta, offering a suite of matching games to help English speakers learn Chinese. Using the app is quite straightforward. First, you choose a set of words that you need to learn. You can use a one of Lingt’s suggested lists, a list of vocabulary words drawn from one of thirty US/Chinese textbooks, or you can manually enter your own words. From there, the site will quiz you on the meaning of the words. You can either input your answers via text, by saying them aloud, or as a matching game (click on one of five choices).