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I'm interested in suggestions for a decent language learning app suitable for a toddler (almost 3 years old) that is not dumbed down with cartoon animations or so advanced that it deals with text. Basically something that teaches new language vocabulary through images/sounds.

My situation: my english speaking daughter is nearly three years old. She understands a decent number of Spanish words (animals, colors, people, body parts, etc) and I'd like to help practice this more with her. We tried DuoLingo for a few minutes but once it gets into matching words (and sentence structure) rather than pictures, she immediately loses interest as one might expect. We also tried a Rosetta Stone app intended for kids, but it was 90% cartoon animations and felt more like watching a bad tv show. I tried downloading a few more but they were riddled with intrusive ads.

I guess I am looking for something that simply shows picture options, pronounces the word/sentence and lets the user pick the correct one.

Any recommendations?

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Linguists believe that kids require interaction to learn languages. Here's an interesting article about it:

http://www.linguisticsociety.org/resource/faq-how-do-we-learn-language

The first part is the most interesting for you:

Although parents or other caretakers don't teach their children to speak, they do perform an important role by talking to their children. Children who are never spoken to will not acquire language. And the language must be used for interaction with the child; for example, a child who regularly hears language on the TV or radio but nowhere else will not learn to talk.

Children acquire language through interaction - not only with their parents and other adults, but also with other children. All normal children who grow up in normal households, surrounded by conversation, will acquire the language that is being used around them. And it is just as easy for a child to acquire two or more languages at the same time, as long as they are regularly interacting with speakers of those languages.

I don't think any app or software can really provide that interaction. Kids don't learn a language like adults try to do it, with learning vocabulary and grammatical structures. There are kids who can learn a language that way, but they are highly gifted, and if your kid does not belong to that 2% of population, showing pictures with assigned words will not have the results you hope for. Actually interacting in Spanish with your kid will be much more effective, in less time spent on "learning".

My wife speaks Catalan with our 3-years old in everyday life, there are some words he only knows in Catalan. When I grew up, I only knew "pollo" and "basura" before learning the German words for it (I'm a German native speaker) because my mom talked Spanish with us kids quite regularly. It works, but it requires direct interaction with the kids. Even a simple memory game helps, but only if someone plays it with the kid and uses the names in the foreign language. 10 minutes of playing memory is better than the kid watching the cards floating by one by one while being told what the animal/thing is called for an hour.

  • Yes, my plan was to use the app with my daughter rather than sit her in front of it by herself. I hoped it would be a like a joint learning activity where I could also pronounce the words to help her. – kburns Sep 26 '16 at 18:17

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