Spanish instructor launches second-language startup while studying entrepreneurship at University of Waterloo

By Suzanne Bowness
Communications and Public Affairs
University of Waterloo

After many years of teaching Spanish to Waterloo students, Camelia Nunez knows beginners learn best by engaging in meaningful conversations.  She also knows undergrads spend a lot of time chatting on their smartphones.

So she came up with an idea:  Why not use smartphones as a platform for students to receive and respond to messages in their new language?

With a solid concept, Nunez began a Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MBET) at the Conrad centre at University of Waterloo. Support from MBET mentors and professors helped her launch Milao, a language learning chat tool for smartphones.

“My experience shows that you don’t necessarily have to be an engineer to have a good idea. Great ideas do come from arts and humanities—and when you combine them with science, great things can happen,” says Nunez, who is also a PhD student of Hispanic linguistics.”

Milao, which is Modern Greek for “to communicate,” is an on-demand chat program aligned with university curriculum for beginner language courses. It lets users chat about typical beginner language topics with an avatar – topics like ordering food or asking for directions.

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