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Story-based learning with Garbanzo

Martina Bex, founder of The Comprehensible Classroom, approached Zaengle with a unique partnership idea — translate her SOMOS Spanish Curriculum into an interactive, story-based web application.

The Story

Empowering teachers through code

How do you translate an award-winning curriculum used by over 25,000 teachers into an interactive web application that students love? We tackled this question with Martina Bex, founder of The Comprehensible Classroom, and one of the most prominent teachers in the Comprehensible Input (CI) learning community. Martina’s SOMOS Spanish curriculum is beloved by teachers and students alike, so creating a complementary web app that matched that level of customer loyalty was no small feat. That goal was achieved in 2019 when we unveiled Garbanzo, an EdTech application that showcases Zaengle’s ability to grow a software product from initial idea to digital execution.

Services provided:

  • Product & Business Strategy
  • User Experience Design
  • Web & Application Development

solo los numeros

We manage an application that averages over 900k page views and 20k users per day.

  • 29



  • 10+



From Garbanzo

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


The Challenge

Three hurdles to overcome
  1. How do we create an online learning experience that complements the powerful methodology and teacher loyalty of the written curriculum?
  2. How do we empower teachers to teach more effectively while saving them time and headache?
  3. How do we optimize performance for an app that has to serve dynamic content in real-time to thousands of concurrent users?

Designed to learn

Zaengle started with a comprehensive branding campaign. Utilizing the concepts in StoryBrand we wanted to create a fun and relatable brand for the product.

We settled on Garbanzo as the brand name, and created "Bonzo" the bird as the primary character for the brand. We built a visual language that encapsulates the fun, cultural nature of the subject matter.

Story-driven interface

Encouraged by Bonzo, we designed a learning interface that was intuitive, fun and understandable by multiple age groups.

Built for teachers

We designed a system where teachers can assign lessons to students, monitor their progress and manage their classrooms, all without creating more work or headache.

And of course, the entire app is responsive to allow teachers and students access from anywhere on any device.

Understanding the Modern Classroom

We gave teachers the ability to add unlimited classrooms, assign lessons to classes or students, and monitor student progress completely online. We spent a lot of time in UX exercises, creating wireframes and prototypes that we tested with real teachers in the classroom.

It’s a great example of Zaengle’s ability not just to build features, but to build the right features that work in the right way for the user. And we’re proud to say teachers love working in Garbanzo.

Engineered for Performance & security

Garbanzo is an amazingly performant application, which is necessary as more classrooms and students are added to the platform each day. During an average school day, Garbanzo averages over 80 requests per second, and has to support an average of 20,000 unique users.

In one recent month, Garbanzo served 600GB of bandwidth to users (amazing considering the application has no video content), and processed over 22 million requests.

To support this amount of data and load, we engineered the application with a scalable database utilizing AWS RDS, a Nuxt front-end, and a Laravel API. We load balance the back-end using on-demand Lambdas, and host the front-end on Heroku which allows us to manage scale during periods of increased use.

Additionally, because Garbanzo is an EdTech product, we ensure student and teacher privacy with full COPPA compliance, strict security practices, and a focus on web accessibility.

The Results

The success is in the numbers

In its three years of existence, Garbanzo has been wildly successful. It is a great example of Zaengle’s unique ability to combine several critical components of a successful online product: business strategy, user experience design, and software engineering. Teacher and student feedback has been very positive, paid subscriptions continue to grow, and we’ve seen increased efficiency and more effective learning outcomes because of Garbanzo’s integration into the classroom. We've continued to build out the application each year, adding features like lesson audio, premium subscriptions, a practice lesson library, and an integration with Google Classroom.

  • 600


    Bandwidth per month

  • 20+


    Requests per month