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Phraseum: A conversation with Ondrej Bobal

Thursday, 3 November, 2016

Ondrej Bobal is a serial entrepreneur from the Czech Republic who has created several startups, including nextstories.com and auto.cz, which was subsequently acquired by Germany’s Axel Springer SE. He’s currently busy with Phraseum, a project he describes as a tool for collaborative learning that’s also a social network.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: What is Phraseum and why did you create it?

Ondrej Bobal: Phraseum offers a community of phrase collections, or Phrasebooks, based on common topics, projects, or grammar lessons. Tags not only allow users to save and categorize phrases as they like, but they generate suggestions for other phrases related to a specific topic.

Phraseum allows you to collect words, phrases and sentences from anywhere on the web, while you browse and organise them into social phrasebooks. Phraseum is social, so you can share phrases and phrasebooks with anyone else on the site and follow other people if you like the kinds of things they are saving and sharing. A Spaced Repetition System allows users to memorise phrasebooks they are following.

My aim is to create the biggest crowd-based database of phrases to allow learners to find suitable ‘real language’ phrases for particular situation and meaning (by searching tags). There is no such tool on the internet so far.”

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Can you give us some facts about Phraseum: Monthly active users, number of countries where it’s used, most popular sections and so on?

Ondrej Bobal: “7,000 monthly users, mainly form countries where Phraseum was covered in media or blogs: Spain, Argentina, Brasil, Egypt, Indonesia, Germany, Poland — all over the world:-)

The most popular phrasebooks are English phrasal verbs, email communication, presentation…. The content is focused on real language — phrases you will not find in the text books.

Example from Phrasebok emails and online communication:

“Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.”
“Hey, no hurry but when you get a chance would you mind…”
“Let me know how your calendar looks for a quick talk.”

Phraseum

If learners use built-in memorising tool for the phrases, they can master them quickly and be more fluent and confident using real language.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: How could teachers use Phraseum in the classroom?

Ondrej Bobal: A good place to begins is Nik Peachy’s recent post on Using Phraseum to learn lexical chunks.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: How can English learners best use Phraseum?

Ondrej Bobal: They can create their own collections by clipping phrases and chunks of language while browsing the web or follow already published phrasebooks and memorise them using Phraseums’s memorising SRS tool. After few weeks they can master hundreds of phrases.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Thank you, Ondrej.


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