Is Your iPad a $600 Toy or a Revolutionary Learning Tool? It All Depends on the Apps You Choose!
So you have made a huge investment in the iPad – and if you are like me you absolutely love it! It’s thin and light, making it the ideal companion of travelers. You can surf the internet, watch movies or your favorite shows, check Facebook and Twitter, download apps, store and read entire libraries of e-books (and adjust font sizes for those tired eyes or even look up the meaning of words along the way)… Who wouldn’t love it?
You love it and so do your kids. So…here they come! They can’t wait to get their hands on it. Do you let them or not? Probably, right? But HOW do you want them to use it? Will it be just the coolest new game station in the house? Or will it be used as the greatest innovative learning platform that you have ever seen? Well, it depends on you and the apps you choose for your kids (not that there is anything wrong with kids choosing some gaming apps as well, but you get the idea).
I am not a specialist in all areas of education, but I know a few things about children learning languages. So, if you are interested in your kids learning to speak Spanish, French, Chinese, English or any other favorite language, then there are a few things that I can share with you to help you find the best iPad apps for your kids – and, by the way, I think that the iPad is going to revolutionize the way parents and kids learn languages together.
Four Tips to Help You Find the Best iPad Apps for Kids Learning Languages
1. Don’t underestimate your kids’ potential
Children are language learning geniuses and they can definitely handle much more than flashcards. If you expose them to just numbers, colors, and days of the week, that’s all they’ll learn. However, if you expose them to whole language in context with the proper support and human interaction they will figure out everything about that language—that’s how babies learn their first language.
Therefore, use flashcards if you want, but beware of language apps that rely exclusively on the flashcard approach—after all, you can memorize every word in a dictionary and still not know how to speak the language.
2. Engage your child’s interest
Kids learn best when they are having fun along the way, and that is normally throughplayful experiences. You know that your kids love something when they ask you to do something over and over (how many times can they watch their favorite movie, or play their favorite game, ask you to read their favorite story, etc?).
So it is very important that the applications that you choose are engaging. That being said, beware of apps that are over the top with pop up animation and innumerable options that unnecessarily distract their attention.
3. Build language around your parent-child interaction
Your kids love activities they do with you and this also happens to be the best way to learn languages at home. So seek apps that will facilitate spending time together with your child on the iPad and will transfer easily for use in your everyday routines (i.e. shopping for groceries, cooking, going to school, games, etc.).
4. Choose the language learning strategy that works best for you and your kids. Like many things in life you need a plan or strategy to get you where you want to be, and this is true for languages as well. So when reviewing apps, understand the approach and assess for yourself if this will really put you and your child on the right track.
Great, now you know some important tips to keep in mind. While I am not aware of all the apps available, the tips above were integral elements in the development of my apps for children learning Spanish, French, Chinese and English (more languages will be available in the future).
So far I have published apps based on classic stories that I have adapted for maximum language acquisition – storytelling is a phenomenal way to introduce whole language in context around age appropriate topics that kids love.
If you want to try my stories, please click here to the iTunes library. Once in the itunes library, you will be brought to my bilingual version of The Red Hen in Spanish and English. To see other titles (e.g. Cinderella) and other bilingual offerings (e.g. French and English, Chinese and English, Chinese and Spanish) then simply scroll down the page in iTunes. The Red Hen is available for free for everyone to try.
Again, to go to the iTunes library click here.
I hope you and your kids enjoy reading the stories.
Ana Lomba is changing the way people think about and interact with young children learning languages. Her Parents’ Choice award-winning books, lively songs, games, stories, and mobile applications are quickly becoming favorites with teachers and parents who want to nurture young children’ inborn language abilities. Key to the success of Ana’s break-through method is a focus on the family as the ideal environment for early language learning – even her signature curriculum for language programs is built with parents in mind. Ana has taught toddler, preschool, elementary school, and college-level Spanish courses, and held leadership positions with some of the most influential language organizations in the US, including ACTFL, NNELL and FLENJ. After graduating with a law degree from Spain, her native country, Ana pursued graduate studies at Binghamton University, Princeton University, and NYU.