At Little Pim, we believe all children deserve to learn a second language. Our language learning series makes learning a foreign language easy and accessible to all kids–at the age they learn best, from 0 to 6 years. Continue reading “Little Pim’s Language Learning iOS App for Kids”
“He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Whether coding courses should be offered as an alternative to foreign language classes in highs schools’ core curricula is the subject of great debate among legislators. To make my position undoubtedly clear early on in this post, I urge our leaders to vote against a bill that allows coding to substitute foreign language learning. As an intern at a foreign language learning company, my bias is evident. However, I will present irrefutable support to my position on the matter to show you I don’t speak out of self-interest but rather popular interest.
Before I delve into why I vehemently disagree with the proposed course of action, I must qualify that I understand the motives behind the bill. With our president using Twitter as his own media outlet, Facebook allowing cute images of puppies and simultaneously devastating snapshots of war and terrorism to reach millions in seconds, and posting videos to YouTube becoming a career path, I do concur that our world grows ever more dependent on technology. I also understand that this dependency on technology implies a demand in the global economy for individuals educated in engineering and computer science. With only 4% of people graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in the US, compared to 31% in China, for example, it logically follows that other global superpowers are fulfilling this demand in the job market. To become more competitive in the job market and contribute to technology-related fields of the global economy, US citizens must be better educated in the associated areas of study. For these reasons, I understand the desire to integrate coding into the core curriculum.
While I recognize the need for coding classes, I do not understand how they can be viewed pedagogically as comparable to foreign language classes and therefore be offered in lieu of them. Java and C++ are languages in that a combination of good diction and syntax allow for expression. However, these coding languages
- Only consist of approximately a hundred words (Little Pim can teach you 250 more in the foreign language of your choosing)
- Are not spoken
- Don’t underpin a society’s rich cultural history
These qualities that differentiate coding languages from foreign languages may seem unimportant to a decision about the proposed education bill, but they are actually the very reason we must say no to the bill!
1. Word Count
Learning the thousands of words of a foreign language requires the brain to become flexible and switch between vocabulary, grammatical structures, and accents. These skills developed to speak foreign languages are believed to be responsible for bilinguals and multi-linguals divergent thinking, or creativity. The fact that coding languages have significantly fewer words than foreign languages means the skills required to jump between languages, skills that translate to divergent thinking and improved creativity, are less developed. Why should you care? Coding is integral to a successful career in technology-related fields, but creativity is equally imperative in technological innovation. Steve Jobs may have been able to program Apple software, but he also needed the creative mind to come up with product ideas and marketing strategies. Without this creativity, he wouldn’t have been as successful. Thus, foreign languages, in cultivating creativity, are just as important in training people valuable to the tech space as coding classes. Moreover, creativity is appreciated in many other fields, too. Thus, to deprive children of foreign languages, effectively limiting their creativity, is detrimental to the US’ position among tech powers, like not having coding classes at all.
2. Spoken Word
Coding has become important, because our society is so technology dependent. Accordingly, many of us have grown more screen-facing than people-facing in our jobs and daily lives. Changing the foreign language requirement to permit coding in place of foreign languages only reinforces this screen-facing culture, which endangers the quality of our face-to-face interactions and children’s people skills. Tech companies might need coders to build products, but they need to know their consumer in order to create desirable products. Surveys and stats are only so telling of consumer response. Face-to-face interactions, where you can see body language and hear intonation can be far more informative. Thus, successful tech companies also require people-facing individuals. These people skills are acquired through conversation, like those had in foreign language classes. Once again, foreign language classes are as necessary in properly educating individuals to enter the tech space as coding.
3. Cultural Awareness
There is a horrible stigma surrounding Americans that we are culturally unaware and self-centered. With English as the language of business, we are rarely forced to accommodate others linguistically. This unaccommodating nature has leaked into our service industries, like tourism, and beyond, tainting our global image. Foreign languages force students to acquaint themselves with a different culture. The AP foreign language examinations offered to high school students who have taken the course test both language and cultural knowledge. Having taken AP French, I can say that the curriculum truly does touch on culture too. We read French literature, discussed historical events, learned of famous chefs and characteristically French dishes, compared the French educative system to the American one, and more. The class taught me a lot, but most importantly that language is merely a window into culture. With this in mind, coding keeps the curtain over that window, bolstering the negative perception of Americans’ cultural awareness. Furthermore, in a globalized economy, cultural awareness, achieved through foreign language classes, not coding, is more and more important to potential employers, including tech companies.
“…allowing coding to replace foreign languages may create more programmers, but runs the risk of letting those programmers be less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware.”
The fact that coding languages have fewer words, aren’t spoken, and don’t lay the foundation for a society’s cultural background may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Yet, these aspects of coding entail that coding languages don’t heavily improve creativity, don’t better interpersonal skills, and don’t make coders more culturally aware. Foreign languages, unlike coding, enhance all of these qualities, which are desirable to tech employers and all employers, in fact. Therefore, allowing coding to replace foreign languages may create more programmers, but runs the risk of letting those programmers be less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware.
“In trying to find a solution to the fact that America is behind other countries in the tech space, the proposed bill creates more problems in the form of less well-rounded graduates.”
Moreover, if the same amount of money is allocated to foreign languages while coding classes, which involve very expensive equipment, are included under that umbrella, even less money will go towards foreign language classes. With smaller budgets, foreign language classes will likely have higher student teacher ratios, potentially less enthusiastic teachers, and less immersive curricula. Studies, (like the one in the following article: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/7460958-a-way-to-teach-babies-second-language-if-parents-only-speak-one/), have shown there is a direct correlation between these qualities of foreign language classes and students’ mastery of the language. Effectively, passing the bill wouldn’t only result in less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware programmers but also less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware foreign language students, meaning all students suffer. In trying to find a solution to the fact that America is behind other countries in the tech space, the proposed bill creates more problems in the form of less well-rounded graduates.
If you are a recent customer of Little Pim (as of Nov 2016), you can download the VHX app to watch Little Pim on your iPhone or iPad. VHX (a Vimeo company) powers Little Pim’s streaming platform so you can watch our award-winning language learning series anytime, anywhere. Simply follow the steps below to setup your iOS device to play our videos for your little ones at home or on-the-go. Continue reading “How to Watch Little Pim on Your iPhone or iPad”
We were so excited when Shaun McBride, aka Shonduras, a Snapchat celebrity and popular YouTube daily vlogger who was recently listed in Forbes Top 30 under 30 and his wife, Jenny McBride accepted our request to send Baby Adley (his adorable daughter) Little Pim language learning products in Spanish. Since Shaun spent some time in Honduras, hence his nickname of ‘Shonduras,’ and learned the Spanish language through immersion, we felt that he would want to the same for his child, and we were right on! Baby Adley already knows a few words in Spanish and is excited to learn more with the help of Little Pim.
Check out Baby Adley opening her custom Little Pim package in Shonduras’ daily vlog below:
The contents of her custom care package included:
- Little Pim Spanish (Vol 1 and 2) on an Amazon Kindle Fire Kids Edition
- Little Pim Trilingual Board Books
- Little Pim Spanish Words and Phrases Flash Cards
- Custom-printed Little Pim Coloring Book with Crayons
- “Say Hello” Poster
- Little Pim Plush Panda Bear
Order Your Spanish for Kids Complete Set to Start Learning Today!
Everyone is going Pokémon crazy with the release of Nintendo’s new app, Pokémon Go. As a parent of little ones, it’s important to learn about the pros and cons of this app before letting your kids dive in on the fun. We’ve been playing for almost a week – for research purposes only, we promise 😉 – and have seen the big phenomenon hit the streets of Manhattan and across the country. You’ve probably heard the news regarding the potential dangers of playing the game or perhaps you’ve downloaded the app yourself and can’t get enough. We’ve compiled some great tips about how to make Pokémon Go a fun, safe, and educational game to play with your little ones.
Protect Your iTunes or Google Play Password from Your Kids
Pokémon Go is free to download, but there are in-app purchases to buy PokéCoins for different items in the “Shop.” These purchases require you to login to your iTunes or Google Play account, so be sure your kids are not able to do so by disabling in-app purchases or keeping your password safe to avoid getting a huge bill at the end of the month. You and your family can still have all the fun for free as long as you play wisely to collect more items from PokéStops.
This app requires cellular data
Like many mobile apps, playing Pokémon Go will require use of your cell phone’s data, so hopefully you have an unlimited data plan or else you’ll probably start receiving texts from your carrier warning you that you’ve used a majority of your data this month. If you’re hitting the max data allowed per month, you may need to have your data turned off until the cycle restarts. Also, this app will do a number on your battery life. Make sure you’re fully charged before you head out the door or carry a charger with you.
Make it Fun AND Educational
Playing the app can be rather simple once you understand what to do. You’re playing as the Pokémon trainer who collects Pokémon (cute, little “pocket monsters” with unique traits and skills) outside. The app connects to your GPS to show you your location and the whereabouts of Pokémon in the wild, nearby PokéStops, and gyms where you can virtually battle other players. At the end of the day, you and your kids could be walking miles on this virtual scavenger hunt while discovering local landmarks and small businesses that you’d normally never visit. This provides a great opportunity for kids to get outside and explore, with your supervision of course.
When you get to a PokéStop and it’s a historical landmark, spend time with your little ones to read about the landmark and start discussions about the history. Playing Pokémon Go during summer vacation can be a fun way to teach your kids about your local surroundings and to provide incentives to take trips to the library or museum for more typical summer learning. You can even use family trips to a local gym or PokéStop as an incentive for finishing a desired task or summer reading.
Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
According the the AppStore and Google Play store, the recommended age to play is 9+ years due to a warning for “Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.” Our biggest concern is having little kids roaming the streets while looking down at their device (“distracted walking”) or being “lured” into a dangerous area, which is why we recommend that a parent or guardian is always present to supervise your children, especially your young ones when playing this app. Recent reports mentioned that players are using the “lures” (a feature used to lure more Pokémon to a location) to plan a robbery or to lure children. Always look up when walking and hold onto your kids when crossing a street or intersection. We recommend playing this game at your local park or an area where there is little traffic.
Another part of the game involves eggs that hatch into new Pokémon. When you collect an egg, you can incubate it by walking a certain distance (2 km, 5km, 10km) to make it hatch. We love that this feature gets you and your whole family outdoors walking instead of indoors on the couch. Different types of locations have different varieties of Pokémon, so you will have plenty of opportunities to explore fun spots with your kids, for example, when you visit a body of water such as a lake or river, you will see more water Pokémon.
It’s a Great Way to Make new Friends
Parents playing the app with their little ones will quickly notice they aren’t the only ones. When walking to a PokéStop or local museum or library that put out a lure to gather people for an event, you will most likely make a connection with another family. Since school is out, now’s the perfect time to get out there and meet other parents and children who have similar interests. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with your local area’s small business owners and support them by buying the family ice cream or a delicious pizza pie!
Due to the game’s diverse players, you’re probably going to meet a bunch of families who are also raising bilingual children. This gives your kids a great opportunity to practice speaking in their second language with other children their age.
Language Learning with Pokémon Go
Here at Little Pim, we’re all about making language learning fun, easy, and effective for young children. We thought of ways to tie in language learning into the game to keep their brains active all summer long.
You can have your kids count the number of steps to catch the Pokémon in the foreign language they are learning. If the Pokémon is further away, help them out with the bigger numbers and eventually they will learn all the numbers in the new language.
This app also forces you to learn the metric system as the distance to walk to hatch your eggs is in kilometers you can convert them to miles. A recent article by MentalFloss pointed out that according to Google Trends, searches for “how far is 2 km” and “how far is 5 km” spiked after July 6.
Create your own flashcard set with a Pokémon Go theme. Choose vocabulary words that you encounter while playing the game, i.e. street, library, tree, ball, catch, throw, as well as all the related animal names you can think of. If you’re child is learning Japanese with Little Pim, teach them the 1st Generation Japanese and English Names:
[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/8_gjbvAYhzw?rel=0″ align=”center” autoplay=”no”]
Explore New Cultures
Here in New York City, we have an extraordinary mix of different cultures present within walking distance. For example, you can take a family trip over to Koreatown with your little language learns to get a glimpse of the Korean culture and enjoy the delicious cuisine at an authentic restaurant. Perhaps you’ll run into a nice family of native Korean speakers that are also playing the game to spark up a conversation so your child can practice speaking in Korean.
Head over to Little Italy to catch some Pokémon and practice your Italian by pronouncing the various food and restaurant names. Enjoy some delicious Italian cuisine when in the area.
Learn more about NYC’s ethnic neighborhoods from BusinessInsider to begin exploring this summer whether you’re a local or just visiting.
Have Fun and Be Safe
Outdoor play and social interactions for kids is great, but can also present risks. As a parent of little ones, we recommend you supervise your child’s cellphone use and play this fun game by their side. Make it a family activity and take the opportunity to teach your kids about “stranger danger” and the risks of “distracted walking.” We hope you enjoyed reading this guide and wish you the best of luck in “catching them all!”
If you have any other tips for parents playing Pokémon Go with their kids, please comment below. Don’t forget that you can also take Little Pim with you during summer vacation with our digital downloads available in 12 languages. Your kids will be speaking a new language in no time with our unique approach. Learn more on our website or contact us during business hours. Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay safe!
Toy Fair 2015 in New York showed off new toys of all kinds, from the simple and familiar to the edgy and technological. There were toys for kids of all ages and for kids at heart. Toy Fair brings out the best in toys, from books to dolls to learning tools to plush toys. Check out the highlights of this year’s convention.
There were new twists on familiar toys like basic blocks and stacking toys. Toymakers added new functions to products like rattles and crib toys but kept them simple enough for the youngest customers to enjoy.
Some toys bridged the gap between technology and old school fun, like Toymail, a cute physical mailbox that lets family members leave kids WiFi voice messages through free phone apps. For parents who travel, children can hear friendly voices and encouraging messages – without having to stay in front of a laptop. They can play and respond to the messages when and where they want.
Take a hint from Little Pim the Panda and leave your kids a voicemail message using the words they’re learning in a new language. Hearing your voice saying some of their new vocabulary is a great way to send a caring greeting and help them learn new words in Spanish, Chinese, or French!
Augmented reality made books and other toys come alive through interactive, easy-to-use apps. When you point your phone at the right spots in a book, for example, your phone shows hidden features and games to play.
A redesigned View-Master and a talking, “smart” Barbie that connects to the cloud were also attention-grabbers.
A new study has found that using iPads can help children with autism improve their language skills, CBS News reports.
In the study, 61 kids, ages 5 to 8, were given speech therapy for 6 months. Half of the children were given access to iPads, while the other half were not. All of the kids involved in the study were “minimally verbal,” meaning they had a vocabulary of fewer than 20 words.
The researchers found that the children using iPads doubled the number of words in their vocabulary, compared with those who did not use the device. The kids using iPads also showed much faster improvement in their language skills during the course of the study.
Dr. Connie Kasari, a professor of human development and psychology and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles who helped to conduct the study, said that children benefit from using tablets because they allow for repeated practice, and the visual stimulants encourage verbal response. Using device like an iPad can also help clarify words the child is struggling with and may even alleviate the pressure to communicate, she explained.
This latest study is particularly interesting to us at Little Pim. We’ve heard from many families of children with autism who have expressed how much our program helped their kids communicate better in English, their native language. Parents have told us that their children with autism are drawn to the colors and sounds of our videos and that they’ve improved their language skills significantly using Little Pim.
We embrace the way technology can help children learn. That’s why made our immersive language program for kids available both on DVD and in digital form, so that kids can use tablets or other devices to learn languages. And our mobile apps are another great way for kids to learn languages while having fun at the same time.
If you have a child with autism, using an immersive language program like Little Pim on a tablet can be a great way for your child to improve his or her language skills. Our videos provide kids with visual and aural stimulation while encouraging feedback and repetition to help kids learn.
And if you have a child with Autism who’s been helped by Little Pim, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
Last week, Team Little Pim gathered at the Javits Center in New York City for four days of pure joy at Toy Fair 2014. Imagine a football field full of the latest toys from classic companies as well as some exciting newcomers. Now try to wrap your head around the fact that the Javits Center holds roughly 10 times the square footage of a football field. In other words, there were a LOT of toys to play with.
An emerging theme at this year’s Toy Fair was customizable toys: toys that kids could build and change themselves. As you might imagine, many of these toys had a digital component, but some of them were simply classic toys with a twist. Here are five of our favorites:
1. Potatoyz – It was only a matter of time before your kids would be able to design and order their own toys online, but who would have thought that it would be as simple as pressing “Print?” Potatoyz begin as little blob-like avatars in the Potatoyz app, where kids can add colors, patterns, facial features, and custom drawings. Within the app, the Potatoyz can play in a variety of different environments, and if your kids really fall in love with their custom characters, they can order a figurine to be 3D printed and shipped straight to your door!
2. DIWire – While 3D printers have yet to become a common household appliance, wire printers are just about to hit the market. A fellow Kickstarter success, DIWire can bend metal wire into complex, detailed sculptures that you design on your computer. It’s especially cool for older kids looking to expand their toy horizons. Check out this video of DIWire in action at Toy Fair.
3. Tiggly — Little kids love to play with iPads, but finding interactive games that teach at the same time they entertain is always a challenge, especially if you’re looking for a physical element that allows them to look up from their digital realms. This fun game is just the ticket: it lets kids play with shapes that they hold in their hands that combine with an iPad app where they learn and explore new concepts. We also love how portable it is; perfect for long car rides and other travel.
4. Stuffies – Who needs another stuffed animal? You can hardly get your kids to clean up all their toys as it is! Stuffies aren’t your typical stuffed animal, though. With up to seven hidden zip pockets, they provide a place for your kiddos to hide their favorite toys. Kids have a special spot to keep their things, while you have secretly won the clutter battle!
5. Ugly Doll – They might be less functional than Stuffies, but we don’t really care. Just look at that face. The latest “bad hair day” Ugly Doll sports a tuft of sculpt-able hair that your kids can style and restyle according to their mood. It’s a simple, but effective update of the classic troll doll. It’s also 100% less creepy than the classic troll doll (okay, maybe 99%).
Did you know the most commonly spoken language on earth is Mandarin? Or that students who studied a foreign language for at least 4 years scored an average of 140 points higher on the math SAT than those who didn’t? We found these fascinating facts and much more as we explored language learning and bilingualism Infographics around the web. We’ve collected a few of our favorites here. Click through to see the full graphic.
1. Second Language Acquisition By The Numbers
(credit, Huffington Post)
The facts and nothing but the language facts are the focus of this Infographic, including the most popular language to study in the United States (Spanish) and where scores improved on the SAT when students studied a second language (actually, they improved in all three sections!):
2. 50 Awesome Facts About Languages
(credit, UIC London)
If you’re looking for biggest, best, and most unusual language facts—from the number of world languages (7,000) to the easiest foreign language for English speakers to learn (Frisian, only spoken in parts of the Netherlands) this Infographic is for you:
3. The Benefits of Being Bilingual
(credit, BlueData International Institute)
What are the benefits of bilingualism? This Infographic links speaking a second language to improved concentration, boosted brain function, and increased creativity just for starters. Find out more:
4. Languages of the World
Finally, check out this Infographic from our friends at Pimsleur (which was created by Little Pim founder Julia Pimsleur Levine’s father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur) exploring the perceptions and realities of language learning in the United States.
If we parents are conflicted about how our young kids interact with technology – from Tablets and DVDs to iPhones, iPads, iPods and iDon’tKnowWhatElse – who can blame us? Not Hanna Rosin, who writes compellingly in The Atlantic this month about the plugged-in push-pull parents face.
Back in 2006, notes Rosin, 90 percent of parents said their children under 2 used some kind of electronic media. With over 118 million tablets sold in 2012, imagine how high much higher that number must be today.
The reality is our kids are exposed to technology every day. Rosin dubs them “the touchscreen generation,” and explores the theory that banishing technology outright may be a simple, if dramatic, response, but perhaps not the most appropriate one. Maybe, she posits, technology – especially today’s interactive technology – can be beneficial to our children.
“People say we are experimenting with our children,” Sandra Calvert, director of the Children’s Media Center at Georgetown University, told Rosin. “But from my perspective, it’s already happened, and there’s no way to turn it back. Children’s lives are filled with media at younger and younger ages, and we need to take advantage of what these technologies have to offer.”
If we adults use technology not just to entertain, but also to enrich and educate ourselves, as you are doing right now, how can we help our children do that as well?
Rosin cites guidelines laid out by Lisa Guernsey in the book “Screen Time.” Guernsey proposes what she terms the Three C’s:
1. Content: “Think about the content of what your children see on screen.” Programming or technology that is age-appropriate – designed for and directed to children — and encourages the children to interact with what they see onscreen – by asking open-ended questions, for instance – may engage children more.
2. Context: “Think about the context — who is with them, how are they talking about what they see, how much the DVD or online game dominates their day.” Studies show that when parents sit with their young children as they watch and talk to their children about something that they are watching or experiencing together, they are enhancing their children’s language-development readiness. One study showed that verbal media interactions between parent and child with educational programming significantly enhanced children’s language skills eight months later. Researchers compare watching a video to reading a book, in that the experience is profoundly enriched when parents ask their children questions about what is on the page and what their children think might happen next.
3. Child: “Think about what makes sense for your individual child, whose needs and interests will be unique to him or her alone.” What works for the neighbor’s child may not work for yours, and vice versa.
The technological landscape our children have been born into is not likely to go away. Both Guernsey and Rosin contend that we parents ought not to try to run from it, but rather to find ways to help our children explore it so that media can enrich their lives, and maybe even teach them something useful, like a second language!
Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve casually followed the Consumer Electronics Show from afar – seeing articles and tweets here and there, heralding the coolest new gadgets of the future. This year, I was actually able to attend the show in person, and I can tell you that the future is 3D, tablets and – good news for moms – waterproofing!
One of the coolest things to come out this year was a commercial pinball machine. I’m a comic book fan, so the idea of an Avengers pinball machine that takes up a fraction of the space of a regular pinball machine, sounds pretty enticing.
Crayola came out with a Light Marker, which uses an LED-tipped point to allow kids to draw on an iPad with a virtual pen.
Our partners from One Laptop Per Child just released a kid-focused new Android tablet called the XO, PACKED with great learning apps – including Little Pim of course!
The pick of the bunch though? A robot which massages tired moms. The line for that one was out of the door!
David Pogue’s son is six years old. He’s a musician, an amateur filmmaker and loves brainteasers. It’s not that he’s a genius, it’s just that he loves the iPad. In fact, according to his father, he’s addicted!
This was the subject of a recent blog post on the NYTimes.com, and like any self-respecting parent, Pogue (tech columnist for the NY Times) is somewhat concerned by his youngest child’s newfound infatuation with his father’s toy. He’s concerned, yes, but he’s not worried.
Pogue makes a critical point: his child uses the iPad mainly for learning purposes. He plays mostly educational and creative apps: a program that lets children create animated short movies, write their own songs, or solve challenging spatial awareness puzzles. To parents who remember a world before computers, this may admittedly feel a little foreign. But the technological devices can be an invaluable tool for educational entertainment when used in conjunction with other, non-screen activities.
There’s good TV and bad TV, so why shouldn’t electronics be the same? There’s little doubt that technology like the iPad can be interactive and collaborative, and actively encourage children to think, learn and create.
Poll: What are your rules for electronics or TV?