S first foray into the market for children’s learning apps includes “activities that promote phonetic awareness of English, pronunciation of letter sounds and an understanding of everyday Spanish phrases.” The free iOS app called “Jargon letter sounds“uses cute animated” GoGo Lingos “and engaging touchscreen mechanics to immerse kids in early literacy and language skills.
Mr. Stringfellow also explained that this app is the start of a “new permutation” of Rosetta Stone products which hope to redefine “the intersection of entertainment and education”. He assured me that the release of Lingo Letter Sounds is just the first step in a “content suite that adapts to all learning abilities and learning styles”.
Rosetta Stone acquired Lexia Learning earlier this summer for $ 22.5 million with the intention of moving from a language business to a learning business. Lingo Letter Sounds is the start of the transition. By combining Lexia Learning’s expertise in children’s reading technology with Rosetta Stone’s expertise in language teaching and speech recognition, the company should be able to develop learning products. quite distinct.
Mr. Stringfellow explained to me that the Rosetta Stone speech recognition engine has been “adapted for children’s speech models”. Apparently, due to a number of physical differences including a smaller palate, children have distinct speech idiosyncrasies that confuse a computer. Rosetta Stone has been training on the computer, using children’s voices, for some time now. All in preparation for the next suite of applications.
Lingo Letter Sounds makes little use of Rosetta Stone’s excellent speech recognition. They use it to teach basic sentences in Spanish. And everything they’ve done to make it kid-friendly has worked. My 6 year old son had a much higher success rate with his squeaky, squeaky cries than I did with my adult voice.
My son and I have been playing with Lingo Letter Sounds for the past few days. The application is polite. The animations are engaging. And the reward and reinforcement system is good: kids earn virtual “toys” when they solve each puzzle, and GoGo Lingo characters respond to your children’s Spanish pronunciation.
The reading portion of the app is basically an engaging way for kids to practice phonetic based letter recognition. And it does it well. Don’t expect Lingo Letter Sounds to be a complete literacy program. You can’t just throw a tablet in your children’s hands and expect them to master phonics. As always, you should play with your children.
My son enjoyed talking to the characters in GoGo Lingo in Spanish and while I’m not sure he played enough to remember the words, his pronunciation certainly improved. This is probably because the app is adaptive. It increases the quantity of Spanish words that it introduces depending on the quality of the pronunciation.
I should also mention that like most learning apps, there is a parent section in Lingo Letter Sounds which allows parents to track their children’s progress or adjust settings to increase difficulty.
I’m excited to see the apps Rosetta Stone created as they expand this direct-to-consumer apps franchise for kids. And I’m excited to find out if my kids are learning Spanish as we review each of the games.
Jordan shapiro is the author of FREEPLAY: A video game guide for maximum euphoric happiness and co-editor of Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement. For more information on his upcoming books and events Click here.