Speaking and reading a second language has huge benefits, but if you can remember a Spanish class in high school, you know it can be difficult. However, teaching children from an early age makes it easier and gives them an edge. Now a new language learning app for kids is also giving them a head start like never before.
Why a second language?
Most parents understand that speaking a foreign language gives their child access to a greater pool of job prospects when they enter the workforce. However, the National Institutes of Health also noted the many cognitive benefits of learning a new language, including improved memory, concentration, problem-solving skills, and listening ability. .
Perhaps more importantly, understanding the language opens the door to cultural awareness and appreciation. Young people can read short stories and plays, or understand music in ways they never could have understood before. Over time, they can adopt a diverse worldview that makes them more tolerant of the individuals they see in the media, thereby challenging the racial stereotypes so prevalent in everyday society.
When and where to start
Neuroscience has shown that the best time to learn a second language is before the age of ten. At this age, children are like sponges and are well equipped to pick up new sounds, letters, words and songs, even on a subconscious level. Children also have a lot more free time to devote to language learning and are not as discouraged by the prospect of making mistakes as adults might be.
A booming app company, Shoonya, works hard to make language learning accessible and enjoyable for children. Before creating the app, founder Rashi Bahri Chitnis noticed the lack of diversity within the children’s area, especially when he wanted to teach his children his native Hindi language.
âWhile there are great apps and resources for kids to learn English, there is no comprehensive, quality content for other languages, especially Asian,â she says. Parentology. The former media director had been trying to get resources from India that didn’t work for kids growing up in America, so she created something that worked for her and her kids.
âI want my children to see themselves represented in the characters they play with and for all children to have a digital universe where there is equal representation of language and cultures,â she says.
Chitnis found that she was not alone in her observations. Other bilingual parents she spoke to were frustrated with the lack of cultural diversity represented in the media, or felt their children did not have the same high-quality educational content for learning Asian languages.
Now with a vast team of educators, designers and engineers behind her, Chitnis hopes to make Shoonya an inclusive platform for languages ââand cultural exposure.
Project-based learning approach
Dr Anupama Sarna, language specialist and consultant for the Shoonya team, proposed an approach to bring language learning to life for children.
âI like to integrate project-based learning about the culture, heritage and art of different regions,â she says. Parentology. âI encourage children to try and collect artefacts, to visit their home or visit a museum and think about what has influenced their art.â She says this educational philosophy makes language acquisition more enjoyable for her students and has guided Shoonya in using thematic learning chapters on her own platform.
Shoonya Kids uses fun characters, animations, and chapter-style learning activities to make language acquisition fun and engaging. Designed to teach children their first 350 to 500 words, the app exposes children under ten to new languages.
Lessons focus on teaching children through absorption and repetition, allowing them to both listen and play as they complete chapters like letter tracing, puzzles, and dress-up . Young children receive a sensory learning experience by tracing letters, sliding puzzle pieces, or pinching and pulling costume accessories, all while absorbing language vocabulary.
Although the app specializes in Hindi, it also offers eight other languages:
- Telugu (language spoken by Telugu people living mainly in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Yanam district of Pondicherry)
In addition, new learning content is added regularly.
Chitnis hopes Shoonya brings a passion for languages ââand cultures to children, helping them celebrate diversity and rewrite negative stereotypes in the media.
Language Learning App for Kids – Sources