Becoming Fluent through Code

We have a lot of experience in building education apps, but this was the first foreign language application to come across the Zaengleverse. We were challenged to design and engineer a product that represented the story-driven curriculum Martina had developed for SOMOS. Through an innovative student learning interface, and a robust toolset for teachers, Zaengle created a product that is one of the best ways to learn a language online.

The Team
  • Philip Zaengle Technical Strategy

  • Jesse Schutt Engineering

  • Sean Delaney Engineering

  • Jason VanLue Strategy & UX

  • Product, Design, Technical Strategy
  • User Experience
  • User Interface Design
  • Front-End Engineering
  • Application Engineering

Our brains are wired for stories which makes Garbanzo one of the best ways to learn a language online. I couldn't have asked for a better development partner than Zaengle!

Martina Bex

Comprehensible Input Online

Comprehensible Input is a relatively new practice in the field of language education. It combines listening and storytelling as a better way to learn a foreign language. Martina Bex is a leader in the CI field — Zaengle's challenge was to create an online application that transformed her classroom curriculum into an interactive interface.

  • Brand Identity
  • Importance of Story

Brand Identity

Zaengle started with a comprehensive branding campaign. Utilizing the concepts in StoryBrand we desired to create a fun and relatable brand for the online product. We settled on Garbanzo as the key word, and creating "Bonzo" as the primary character for the brand. We built a visual language that encapsulates the fun, cultural nature of the subject matter.

Importance of Story

Comprehensible Input is based on story-driven learning, and part of that is identifying with characters. Meet Bonzo a 27yr old Macaw hailing from Chichita, Peru. He’s the oldest of 13 siblings (though we don’t talk about his brother Barry, he’s a bit of a bird brain). He loves teaching Spanish and loves learning about other cultures and languages.

Engaging Design

Encouraged by Bonzo the bird, we created an interface that was intuitive, fun, and engaging. It was important that the UI be understandable by multiple age groups, encouraged further depth into the content, and made it easy for teachers to manage their students. In addition to the immersive learning interface, we designed a system where teachers can assign lessons to students, monitor student progress, manage classrooms, and more. And of course, the entire app is responsive to allow teachers and students access from anywhere on any device.

Building Fluency Through Code

Because we are working with student data, it was essential that we build a stable and secure application. We designed a platform that complies with COPPA and enforces strict security practices. Additionally, we had to make sure the application could support a large load of concurrent student usage across the platform — for example, on just one day in recent months the platform supported over 5,000 student assignments. We achieved both of these with a Graph database, a Nuxt front-end, and a Laravel API. We load balance the back-end, and host the front-end on Heroku to manage scale.

Comprehensible Input is quickly becoming recognized as the best way to become fluent in a language. Based on one of the best selling CI curriculums, Garbanzo has set the standard for language learning online. We are incredibly proud to have not only built the product, but to partner in its future growth.

Garbanzo has only been live for a few months, and since that time we've seen the following statistics:


Teachers using Garbanzo




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