“I want to play Chinese!” is a phrase my two-year-old daughter often shouts out. I’m never sure if she really wants to play with Chungaboo’s iBook “Words: English to Chinese” or if she knows it’s a sure-fire way to gain access to the iPad. Either way, I call it a win. These books are so engaging with vivid illustrations by artist Miles Wisniewski and expert language translation voiceovers that even my toddler is picking up pieces of the Mandarin language and inserting it into every day conversation. Earlier this summer we introduced you to Chungaboo in a feature at Yahoo! Shine, Parents Should Load iPads with Chungaboo eBooks for Summer Learning, and we think no matter the season these books should be in your kids’ hands.
An article about bilingual children at Parents.com said, “The earlier you introduce a second language, the easier it will be for your child to pick up its unique sounds.” It went on to say that ages 2 to 3 are ideal for introducing a second language because it’s at this time that the “ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest.”
We all know that children are sponges and are at the peak of learning ability in their earliest ages, so my husband and I loved finding Chungaboo (disclaimer: created by friends we met in college) for our daughter. She thinks it’s a game, we know she’s learning, and according to an article in the New York Times this past spring, each time she plays and picks up a new word she’s getting a little brighter.
“Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age,” reported Yudhijt Bhattacharjee. The article went on to suggest that learning a second language is like a workout for the cognitive muscles. And if the Words iBooks from Chungaboo in 10 languages wasn’t enough of a mental workout, their first iOS app is most certainly a jog for those tiny noggins.
The Language Series by Chungaboo (formerly known as Lingo Slingo) is a super fun language game for the iPad. Players can choose six languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish. Then, in each round a series of five flashcards (out of a possible 20) with a picture are tossed across the screen as a professional linguist says a single word in the selected language that matches one of the cards. The player has to quickly select the corresponding flashcard before they all fall out of view.
For instance, if the player chooses French, the voice will say “chaussettes” while the word appears on the screen. Then, five flashcards are tossed and the player has only a few seconds to select the card showing a pair of socks. All of this is accompanied by truly delightful music that will certainly be appreciated by parents tired of the same squeaky-wheel preschool sounds of most games (on or off the iPad).
Five points are given for each correct answer, with bonuses available for uninterrupted streaks. As in most games, there are three strikes before the game ends. At the end of each round players can see their score as well as earn achievement badges, which are earned for all-time highest scores (starting at 1,000 points), beginner badges the first time you play a new language, and maestro badges for successfully finishing a 50-game streak on one of the languages.
“Achievement has become a buzz-word around our house,” said co-founder and mother of three Sarah Marquez. “The kids want to keep playing the game until they get a high score or win a badge!”
While my two-year-old didn’t achieve any high score bonuses playing Language Series by Chungaboo, she did have a lot of fun chasing the cards and hearing those familiar Chinese words.
The app just launched on August 4, and is already receiving high praise from the app community, including 15 five-star ratings in the app star! “So, far the feedback has been very positive,” said Marquez. “We have already been recognized as the ‘App of the Week’ by Corona Labs and as a ‘Top 5 App of the Week’ by iHeartThisApp.”
As a mom, I rate it pretty highly, too. I love that my daughter was able to get in a few minutes of worthwhile screen time that didn’t involve a princess. I also loved putting my old French skills to the test and scoring almost 600 points!