As parents we all know, the younger we start teaching kids a second language, the easier and better the learning experience will be. Gus on the Go is a great app teaching kids a second language at a young age. It is designed for toddlers and preschoolers, but I found myself learning some Spanish using the app.
In the app, there is no English instruction. Kids start with a lesson on farm animals. All the animals are in this farm picture. When kids tap on one animal, the corresponding Spanish word will appear on the screen, accompanied with a voice reading the word. After the kids have learned the words, they can move on to the next section – a game that testing how much they have learned. In the game, all the animal pictures start floating from right to left. A voice will speak out one animal’s name in Spanish, and the kids are expected to tap the animal. If they tap the right animal, a bubble will come and circle that animal away. If the kids make enough correct taps, they unlock next level lesson and game, which is another group of vocabulary - fruits.
There are 10 lessons covering about 90 commonly used vocabulary words. There are: animals, food, clothes, transportation, body parts, numbers, shapes, and colors. All lessons are interactive. For example, the lesson on farm animals shows a picture with several animals in the farm setting. Some animals are behind the doors of the red barn, so the kids have to find them. For transportations, the picture is set with a big wheel, and different vehicles stand on different points around the big wheel. Kids get to spin the big wheel, and the vehicle gets to the top of the wheel is the word the kids get to learn.
All tests are done by playing various games. They are pretty easy. But for toddlers, they may not be able to remember all the words (about 9) in one lesson in a short time period, and with a typical toddler’s patience, they may want to move to the game quickly. It could be frustrating if the kids do not pass the test (ie. the game), thus cannot unlock the next level, after playing the game for several times. I have talked with the developers. They are working on solutions to minimize the frustration. I hope they will add some smaller rewards, such as stickers, to recognize smaller improvement on word mastery. In the meantime, parents can help the toddlers stay within the lesson till they have fairly good mastery of the words, after that they can move to the game and unlock the next level easily.
There are couple things I like about this app. One, it is toddler friendly. The pictures, the music, the speed of reading the words, the big letters, are all designed for kids 3-5 years old. Two, there are no English instructions. It is a complete Spanish environment. I can easily picture a Spanish speaking family using this app to teach their baby basic vocabularies.
The only suggestion I have is to keep the toddlers in the same lesson till they have fairly good mastery. Moving to the game too soon might cause frustrations. That said, playing games is fun too, so some young kids may not care if they cannot move up quickly.
It only works on iPAD. It is $4.99 at App store. I’d like to see it at around $3, but given it being so toddler friendly, a couple dollars more may worth the investment if it can help your little one learn a new language at a young age, and I do think the app will do a good job at it.
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