Vietnamese win first prize at education start-up contest

By Bui Hong Nhung, Ngoc Tuyen   March 15, 2016 | 08:33 pm GMT+7

Two Vietnamese woman beat out 1,200 other entrants to win first prize for their English language learning program in the SXSWedu contest in Austin, Texas on March 10.

The program, named Elsa, is a smartphone application launched in 2015 by Van Dinh Hong Vu, 33, and Ngo Thuy Ngoc Thuy, 29, in conjunction with Spanish speech researcher Dr. Xavier Anguera.

vietnamese-win-first-prize-at-education-start-up-contest

Van Dinh Hong Vu at the contest

The application points out which sounds learners are struggling with and offers them directions on how to improve. Elsa is able to evaluate and give specific scores to learners based on their ability to imitate a native speaker.

In addition to the technical development, the program had the support of speech coach and actor Paul Meier, who provided the voice for the app. 

SXSWedu, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the world's leading competitions for start-up projects specializing in education. 

Elsa's creators received a $2,500 prize for their win.