Let's teach and learn languages, privately!

Hello people, I am a person who loves learning languages and who studies them on a daily basis, but I am also a person who cares about privacy, anonymity and security, and the language community does not get along very well with this. Almost all of the language learning platforms are closed-source and managed by big companies who also sell your data to other big companies. Even places like Italki which, if you are a student -teachers have to upload a video of their faces, give them photos of their degree/diploma and I guess credit card information- don’t have to provide things like your real IDs, you are forced to use invasive apps like Skype.

Recently I found out about these two platforms, Open Bazaar and Particl where you can sell products and services as anonymously as Bitcoin goes (OB is working on Monero but is not yet implemented). So, I thought that maybe I could start teaching through there for people who cares about the same issues as me.

What do you think of the idea? What measures should be taken to do this safe and secure for both teachers and students? Which do you think are the best software for communication during this process? How teachers could prove they are not scammers without compromising their privacy? Do you think I miss something?

Please note that I’m not interested on using this post as publicity, I’m asking for feedback and I’m not sure I’ll start doing this until I have the measures to do this in a way that cannot affect me. I’m more interested in creating a safe space where people can teach and learn without data brokers being in the middle.

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Wouldn’t any means of “privacy, anonymity and security” depend on the software that marries you up to your student/buyer - and that be the main thing to check?

Open Bazaar privacy policy states, in part (only important stuff copied to here)

  • We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site.

Particle.io doesn’t have a privacy policy that I could find.

Many universities use a prof to student, and student to group, and triad systems to communicate as individuals directly to/from the professors, and between students, group projects and so. Perhaps investigating those would be a step in finding what is available.

Good luck - with privacy that is.

I think you are right, there’s certain level of importance that has to be taken into that, but the level of data that Open Bazaar/Particl collects is not that high (maybe it is and I’m wrong; that should be investigated) or cannot be as dangerous as the interaction between teacher/student. What if someone tries to hack, doxx or steal private information of the teacher, or someone pretends to be a teacher to do the same thing to a possible student?
Also I think the privacy policy you mentioned is related to the website and not to the software.

I think getting in contact with both of these developers to see what kind of information they get from their software, and what kind of information could be collected through brute force by a man in the middle, would be a step forward to achieve this.

I don’t know if this applies here, studying a language -unless you are getting really deep into linguistics- is not something that should require a whole group of students connected and communicating with their teacher. Teaching a language can be simply accomplished with one teacher and one student, if the student wants to dig deeper and form a group of students with someone they know, that’s their thing. Adding that whole group-thing would arise the level of complexity to the subject and the possibilities of users getting attacked.

Thank you very much!

So the things that should be taken into account are:

  • What kind of data the e-commerce platforms collect, how this could be a danger to both teachers and students, and how we could minimize this data to create a safe and private space.
  • What kind of software should be use to communicate, which is the more private, what information can be gathered through the interaction with these software, and how we could minimize this data.
  • How we can guarantee that both teachers and students are real entities that do not pretend to abuse the relationship with their counterpart.

Does anyone has any other idea?

Many self-learning tools/services also are collecting data or sending it to FACEBOOK and request disabling adblockers. My small list is:

  • Duolingo
  • Clozemaster
  • Memrise

Of these the only one that has FOSS alternative that I know of is Anki which can be used to replace Memrise.


Duolingo also has a very serious trouble with bots that promote porn websites, I saw some posts on their forum and it looks like the problem is still unfixed after two years. I get follows from these bots like once per week. So much for a website which is designed for children also, this without taking into account that is a million dollar company that doesn’t even updates a lot of their courses too often. Still I use it because there’s no alternative, Anki is fine but to learn a language only through it you would need a lot of different decks.

I’ve been trying Clozemaster lately and it is a really good website, but again such a shame that it relies so much on being invasive.

What do you mean by request disabling adblockers? They cannot disable them, can they? I just block everything except for the necessary thing for them to work, and also apply aesthetic filtering on all their pro version propaganda out of hate.

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I mean that they have the prompts “Please disable your adblocker” and what you call as pro version propaganda, which includes “if you don’t want to see ads, get Duolingo Pro”. They cannot actually change my browser configuration of course.

Edit: at least their requests don’t include instructions for disabling Discussion: Privacy Badger.

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Do you have any information that validates the fact that Clozemaster sells data? I now they do, their website is full of trackers and so on but I would like to see some proofs so I can post on their subreddit and see how they react.

The only thing I am able to say is that one of their reasons for getting Clozemaster Pro is to not have ads.

I tend to make my own language learning apps actually, which is currently suiting my needs:

Caution: It is on Github, and I’m in the process of trying to find a viable alternative. I do host a mirror of it on Glitch.

It’s like a Terminal flash card system. It’s currently mostly configured for Japanese romaji, but might work on other languages later.