San Francisco, California (PRWEB) September 22, 2015
Language acquisition is a natural process in the early years of childhood, and studies show that children up to age six are especially apt to learn a foreign language. Young children’s brains have an ephemeral level of neuroplasticity that grants the brain the potential to activate certain neural pathways, such as those that facilitate the acquisition of a second language (Vos 2007). According to Diamond (1988, in Vos 2007), after the first years of a child’s life, the ability to stimulate the neurological connections of language acquisition decreases considerably. Thus, children exposed to a second language in early childhood reap notable advantages in becoming bilingual.
Technology affords effective teaching methods to stimulate children’s cognitive development. In order for a child to learn a second language, it is imperative that the teaching agent captures the child’s attention so the child can retain the new information (Stahl and Stahl 2004). Numerous scientific studies and literature cite that the use of multimedia resources significantly increases the attention span of the user (Blachowicz, Fisher and Ogle, 2006). Monkimun, an award-winning company that creates language-learning applications for children, designed a study to investigate whether or not educational apps can help children learn a language more effectively than traditional language-learning methods.
Monkimun conducted the study in collaboration with psychologists from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid with a test group of 32 five-year-old children. The study began with a pre-test that tested the children with flashcards and audio to determine each child’s prior knowledge. The children were then divided into two groups. The control group was presented vocabulary using flashcards, and the experimental group was presented the same vocabulary through a Monkimun educational app. The experiment concluded by repeating the pre-test to determine how many words the children recognised.
The results remarkably supported the use of language-learning apps. The children presented with vocabulary through Monkimun’s apps retained twice as many words as the children tested with the flashcard method, and consequently the children in the Monkimun experimental group learned over 150% more words than the control group.
Multimedia resources can provide more dynamic exposure to language than traditional methods. Language-learning apps can offer real-world representations that children can contextualize. Processing information through play helps stimulate the neural connections of language acquisition and strengthen those pathways. As Piaget and Vygotsky affirmed, children learn by exploring their world and playing games, and language-learning apps such as those produced by Monkimun impart a level of autonomy and independence to children in the learning experience, thus increasing their engagement and initiative. Language-learning apps may allow parents and teachers to achieve their goals more efficiently, which can lead children into a future of smarter individuals, living in a smarter society.