Updates on Coupling (01/08)

Booster packs and challenge packs

Happy new year! I’ve moved out yet again to live in a different state each month. Spent a week camping out of my car in Idaho forests and mountains and am currently in the Utah desert area. I’m back at work with updates to get closer to having something ready to use for everyone.

(read the last update)

Booster Packs

Booster packs are small collections of vocabulary that can be added to your deck in one click. The idea behind this is to let you browse and discover new words and phrases to learn. We’ll start with essential booster packs such as body parts, colors, household objects, shopping, or survival phrases.

I’d be excited to get to the stage where I can continually release booster packs around specific social situations as well as current and upcoming events. In case you wanted to update your in-laws on your current country’s politics.

Challenge Packs

Challenge packs are like booster packs that, once learned, unlock games to play with your partner. Challenges can contain multiple levels that unlock one after the other. The app lets you know once the necessary vocabulary has been learned (via the review system), and the challenge is ready to play.

The idea is to make sure you learn the vocabulary well before trying to practice it in real life. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fun (and perhaps irritating) for the native speaking partner to teach you vocabulary from scratch. The challenges provide a way to practice speaking and listening in real life with vocabulary you’ve already acquired via self-study.

An example challenge is Simon Says, where you learn, listen for, and execute physical commands such as stand up, sit down, go to the bathroom. The first level of the challenge is listening for these commands from your partner and rapidly executing them. Getting your body involved physically will drill the vocabulary further into your head. You learn not only the whole phrases, but key vocabulary such as adjectives, verbs, and nouns comprising the phrases.

Design of progression in language learning is popular. The levels progressively get harder, involving doing actions on objects (pick up the cup), doing actions on objects pick up the big cup), compound sentences (pick up the big cup and give it to me), and adverbs (pick up the big cup quickly and give it to me slowly).

You get a badge for completing the challenge, unlocking further levels, and your partner gets a badge for bossing you around!

Other challenges might include discussing a funny picture or video, role-playing situations, playing hide-and-seek with objects, or a game of Guess Who?

Flashcard Editing

Knocking out an expected feature, the ability to edit flashcards after adding them to your deck.

Flashcard Statistics

I’ve added a section to view learning statistics for each individual piece of vocabulary. Not only can you view your overall progress, but progress on each word or phrase. This section is barely started, but later on, there will be charts and timelines beyond basic metadata.


I’ve learned to focus on making this project even more specialized for couples. At the beginning of the process, we should set goals, time expectations, and facilitate the native speaker to be a coach and cheerleader versus a teacher.

Someone on HackerNews noted they felt heavy connotation of the word “coupling” to biological mating. What do you think of when you hear the word coupling? I just think gears, physics, programming design, or simple pairings. Reply or comment below!

- Kevin