As our society becomes increasingly globalized, the ability to speak more than one language becomes increasingly useful. Members of today’s youth population who learn to speak more than one language are likely to have a huge advantage over their monolingual peers in terms of job prospects in the future.
Fortunately, technology is making language learning less difficult and more enjoyable for both kids and adults. New apps for tablets and smartphones, in particular, are beginning to break boundaries and revolutionize the way people learn to speak different languages. A Palo Alto-based language education company, Better Chinese, just officially released a new iPad app called Discovering Chinese. Discovering Chinese joins the small but growing number of language learning apps.
Discovering Chinese is geared toward middle school and high school students and includes multiple interactive features that aim to keep learners entertained and engaged. Some of the app’s more noteworthy features are cartoon video lectures, lessons in the style of comic books, and games that challenge users to recall what they’ve learned in lessons. Users of Discovering Chinese can also practice writing Chinese characters and pronouncing Chinese words. The app auto-corrects users’ mistakes to help them learn through trial and error.
Discovering Chinese is a part of an ongoing project involving a partnership with Better Chinese, Stanford University, and the National Security Association to create Chinese language courses that make use of cutting-edge technology. The National Security Association is currently pushing initiatives to increase the number of U.S. students who study Chinese, which they believe to be a “critical” language. The association plans to use tools like Better Chinese’s app to reach students more effectively.
There have been a few pilot programs at select high schools in California that have tested out the efficacy of Discovering Chinese. Teachers who have worked with the app in their classrooms almost unanimously note that it keeps students much more engaged than an ordinary textbook would. Learning a language can be frustratingly difficult for many students, and apps like Discovering Chinese are most definitely tools teachers should consider using to help make class material more exciting, fun, and accessible.
Since Chinese is one of the most difficult languages for English-speaking students to learn, Discovering Chinese and similar apps will likely prove to be invaluable in the next few decades as more and more people learn Chinese to professionally thrive in the global market.