Monday, 10 August 2015

Review: Think Bilingual-The First Language Immersion App?

Interact and Immerse, an iPad application development company that specializes in immersive language learning for children and adults, announced recently the launch of its new game, Think Bilingual! The game is now available for iTunes download and it is currently free for early users and educators. The current version includes Spanish, French and English.
Think Bilingual! Is like in an adventure game, where the user is challenged to navigate through different situations. In the storyline, the user helps a family of Aliens make their way on earth: cooking in the kitchen, driving a car, cleaning the house and even babysitting. In each situation, the user plays the game by listening to the target language. For instance, to learn directions, you drive a car in the game, with the aim to encourage learners to think in the target language rather than just translate it.
As the app aims to provide immersion rather than translation, I was particularly interested in finding out how productive skills could be developed using it.
Chris Loux, Interact and Immerse co-founder, provided me with more details about how the app can boost this crucial element of language learning.
Writing: “This is something that we have thought a lot about and have specific goals in trying to avoid writing and try to lead the user to react to the native blocks of language at normal speed. Our philosophy is based on the direct method, and we are seeking to build a very fast connection between "listen" and "do" to encourage users to process the narrations in the target language. That being said :), there is an interesting way for users to practice writing in the app:

1. turn off sound

2. tap the "write" tool on the right side

3. read, and do the action

-or, for writing-

1. listen to the narration

2. write out the sentence as listened

3. tap the "write" tool to check writing

4. do the action

The latter is interesting as it ties listening, writing, reading and comprehension together.” 
Speaking: “Speaking is on the roadmap for version 3.0 of the app, and will include the ability to record speech and turn it in to a teacher. The speech will be responding to questions about the stage just done. For example, in "ID stage" (stage 7) the app will ask, "What languages do you speak?" And user will answer as per the completed stage. This will be recorded and stored for teachers/parents. There will also be real-time functionality allowing a teacher and student to see the same screen and follow each other's speech in the target language by doing the actions in the interface.” 

I would say that this product works best for KS2-KS4. But adults can use it too, especially adults who are "trapped" at basic level, knowing a lot of vocabulary, but who don't have the confidence to respond whenever someone speaks to them in the language. 

For a casual learner, especially one with issues around listening, the current version should work great as a more fun and light-hearted-though linguistically sound-way to revise the basics.

Specifications of Think Bilingual!:

  • The current version has 44 levels covering people, directions, house, greetings, cooking.
  • New episodes will appear monthly
  • The level is basic/intermediate
  • Think Bilingual! is best for ages 8-16, but also adults at basic level
  • English, Spanish and French are in the current version. Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese are scheduled for development.
  • Group-enabled version to be released for educators to use in classroom situation.
What next?

Be part of the development of this app by trying it and giving feedback to

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