Research suggests language learning applications are failing
Recently, there has been a focused look at the efficacy of language learning applications in the educational technology market (Ed Tech), specifically how they assist English language learners (ELLs) with English acquisition. The outcome of this shows that many of the current language learning apps available actually do a poor job at serving the needs of ELLs with a lack of support in the following four areas:
· Access to rigorous academic content
· Social and emotional language learning support
· Authentic and culturally relevant experiences
· Increased engagement opportunities with families and communities1
How does Lingo Jingo succeed for teachers and students?
Lingo Jingo has largely been able to avoid the pitfalls that plague other language learning apps through a more engaged and invested relationship with teachers of ELLs as well as with the students themselves. Our approach to determining content and coursework that is made available on the Lingo Jingo learning platform is driven by our belief that educators need to have a greater say – and stake – in what types of supports are on our site. We do this through interviews with teachers and administrators where academic goals and learning objectives are determined and educational supports are created that are in line with these goals and objectives. Additionally, if there are standards (Common Core or WIDA for example) that must be supported, this is communicated and we design coursework that delivers this support. Nothing is done in a vacuum or offered as a ‘one size fits all’ solution – that’s a recipe for failure.
Access to rigorous academic content – Lingo Jingo offers coursework and activities that directly support the learning objectives of educators. This includes activities that assist in academic language comprehension and acquisition, standards alignment, academic goals, contextual understanding of language and more.
Social and emotional language learning support – Lingo Jingo understands that ELLs are much of the time learning new (and challenging) educational content as well as learning a new language. For school aged kids, the emotional aspect of being challenged academically is literally half the battle of the education challenge in which the learning process is 50% social-emotional and 50% cognitive2. We make every effort to provide content that is appropriate academically as well as from a language complexity standpoint so that students are not overwhelmed by the emotional requirements of problem solving and concept comprehension. Social and emotional learning outcomes are taken into consideration with how our supports are constructed.
Authentic and culturally relevant experiences – This is an area where communication with teachers in creating appropriate content is critical. Lingo Jingo can not only provide supports that help to achieve academic goals, but can do so in a way that is sensitive to the cultural sensibilities of students – this is part of the discovery process in our interactions with educators. If there are ways to develop and deploy content with cultural components that resonate with students, then we will find them and put them into our supports.
Increased engagement opportunities with families and communities – Frankly, this is probably the most important piece of all the criticism leveled at language learning apps. The phrase “it takes a village” is very appropriate when in the discussion of language acquisition. For any student (regardless of age or ability level), having support outside of the classroom is going to have a massive impact on their ability to become language proficient. Students are only in the classroom a few hours a day. When they get home, it’s critical that they are finding ways to continue their exposure to their non-native language. Parents and community members are integral in continuing this for ELL students. This is why Lingo Jingo provides, free of charge, two parent/caregiver licenses on Lingo Jingo to each student account that is created for a school.
We want to be an agent of change for language learners regardless of their circumstance. Offering parents or caregivers access to our platform allows for these incredibly important contributors of a student’s learning journey are also equipped with tools that will help them as well. It still requires determination, consistency and motivation from family or community members to make the use of Lingo Jingo effective for ELLs, but we will be happy to offer the tools and supports necessary for success.
The Lingo Jingo commitment
Lingo Jingo always keeps an eye on the challenges that derail other language learning applications and Ed Tech providers, so that we don’t fall into the same trap and fail language learners. Constant communication and goal setting guides our content development, and the supports we make available for students. Our ability to be flexible and address specific requirements of teachers and schools ensures that we can serve the needs of ELLs.
To learn more, watch this demo.
1- According to EdSurge. from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-04-19-why-language-learning-apps-haven-t-helped-struggling-ell-students
2- Philip M.Brown, Michael W. Corrigan and Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro from Handbook of Prosocial Education.