We've heard the statistics before, learning a language is supposed to be a lot more difficult after the age of five. When you think about that and the invaluable asset that having a second (or even third) language presents for those hoping to study or secure employment, it's no wonder that parents are enrolling their children in expensive language programs and multi-lingual schools.
The benefits of bi- or trilingualism aren't just economic; they're sometimes a must have for smoother traveling and even have neurological benefits. There are also particular languages that make it easier to do business or attend schools around the world like English and Chinese. In fact, I am writing this article as I attend a Dutch University where almost every program at all levels is offered in English. With classmates from all over the world, a common denominator for our instruction is our mutual understanding of the English language.
Since speaking English can improve the ease of education and getting around, even in countries where it is not the national language, some parents have begun to find new ways to help their child learn and maintain their level of English. One of these services is the successful education tech startup, Lingumi.
Lingumi designs research-driven apps to help children from 2-5 years of age learn English through play. Their Club Lingumi app has hundreds of learning activities to teach and introduce children to English, and a single lesson can be done in 10-15 minutes meaning instruction isn't like long, boring traditional classes. Lingumi maintains that children can learn a lot in just two weeks, even if they're just doing one 10-15 minute lesson every day.
It isn't all talk either; their apps are developed based on research from academics at various prestigious universities and the experience of actual English teachers. The app is designed in London with the help of teachers, linguists, and visual artists.
The reason the app is developed for children from 2-5 is that of the statistic I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Children between these years are in what is called the "critical period" for the absorption and development of language skills so that learning a second or third language at this time is like speaking their mother tongue.
Learning languages at this time have also proven to sharpen children's attention spans and problem-solving skills. Their app is compatible with iOS or Android tablets or smartphones and includes more than 100 lessons, with more being added each month. The amount of experiences is more than a year's curriculum.
Children between 2 and 6 are in a 'magic window' when learning a second language happens in a natural way, just like the way they learn their mother tongue. You'll be amazed at how their language develops with Lingumi, in just a few weeks.
How much does this all cost? Lingumi is transparent about the price of their plans, which are listed on their website. With an annual plan sign up, users will pay €3.75 (approximately $4.49) a month. That gives them more than 100 educational games and a 25% discount on monthly lessons. By signing up for a monthly plan, users pay €4.99 (about $5.97), and if users want to pay quarterly, they will pay €4.33 (about $5.18) a month which gives them a 15% discount versus paying monthly. With prices like this, it isn't hard to see how more than 20,000 learning lessons have been played with more than 1,000 families being a part of their community.
The playful and age-appropriate curriculum, developed using research done at Oxford University, combines their app and other learning tools. These tools include Lingumi Play Cubes and Lingumi Jumbo Word Cards. The Play Cubes, also nicknamed the "English teacher in a box" are used with the app by pre-schoolers. The interactive foam cubes work with the camera on the user's device to make characters "come alive" once the Cube is placed on little square boxes. In this way, children can interact using the cubes as opposed to manipulating the characters on the screen of their device. All of this will set back the user €49.99 ($59.79).
The word cards are a bit cheaper at just €14.99 ($17.93), and they are a set of colorful cards with 75 nouns and adjectives to be used in addition to the app. They're designed to help the user practice new words without the app. Whether your child will be the next Einstein or not as well... that's up to many other factors but with Lingumi at least learning English is child's play.