SPEAK: Portuguese Social Learning Startup Reaches Berlin

When you move to a new city, it is not always a breeze to build new relationships, we all know that! It is hard to blend in, to make new friends, to learn the language and to absorb the culture.

“Whenever I moved to new place, I had a hard time to make friends and improve my language skills. and I found out that many people feel exactly the same,” says Hugo, ex-Googler and now founder of SPEAK, who moved several times in his life to different places like Poland, Dublin, and California.

SPEAK is a social platform that connects migrants, refugees, and locals through the language and culture exchange programs where anyone can learn a new language or teach their own. In Portugal and Italy, SPEAK has shown to be a creative solution for social integration of migrants through the way it connects people, breaks barriers and prejudices.

Now SPEAK has arrived in Berlin, where there are already many organizations helping migrants and refugees in different areas, especially like language learning and cultural integration. However, sometimes providing language courses can lead to extra work and make organizations lose their focus.

SPEAK is the practical answer to that dilemma. The project helps these institutions to organize language courses without any extra work or burden, as SPEAK implemented an innovative technology using the Online2Offline model. Basically, while all the processes and operations (enrollments, payments, management of course material, etc...) are managed through the online platform, the learning experience happens offline, in the real world! Thanks to this language and cultural exchange, participants start building an informal network of support which is what makes SPEAK a community.

SPEAK was started by Hugo Menino Aguiar, former Googler, who left the company in 2014 to bring newcomers closer together and help them integrate into the cities where they live. In September, Hugo has moved to Berlin, where new courses are about to start.

Fatima teaching Arabic

“We are now thrilled to start in Berlin, the city is such a melting pot with over 17% of its population coming from foreign origin. We hope to use SPEAK as a tool to foster the social integration in the city and give our contribution.” Says Hugo. 

SPEAK has already a close friend in Berlin that is Migration Hub Network who is helping them in settling down in the new City.

The project has already collected several awards, including European Language Label by the European Commission and the Best Scalable Social Entrepreneurship Award at the Social Innovation World Forum.

As of today, over 10.000 people are using the SPEAK platform, with over 125 nationalities. In Portugal and in Italy, over 1.100 people signed up for the language sessions just in the first semester of 2017.

14th  August 2017, SPEAK Language Exchange at Unser Cafe, Berlin

The model that SPEAK has implemented is very simple! The language sessions consist of an 18 hours-long course and have a symbolic fee of 29€. Besides that, SPEAK organizes many cultural events, free and open to everyone.

Here is the fun part, those who teach their own language have access to all the courses as the participant for free and those who can’t afford to participate in the courses can always apply for the scholarship and get in for free.

Applications are already open in Berlin. Why not give it a try? Watch the above video of SPEAK above and visit the official website to know more and to share with your friends.

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