Conventional wisdom indicates that learning a second language is enriching for everyone, especially for little kids. Rosetta Stone has already begun capitalizing on its decades-long language program for the grade-school (and below) set, and has now added a new app to its Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo iPhone brand: Word Builder.
“We didn’t see a lot of players in the space, and we saw an opportunity to help pioneer kids education for language learning,” said West Stringfellow, CPO at Rosetta Stone, in a phone call. “Especially learning two languages at a time.”
The purpose of the series is to enable kids to learn how to read in English and converse in Spanish, with the help of fun and friendly characters. Stringfellow says that the Word Builder app is a natural progression from the first app in the series, Letter Sounds, and is geared for a broader audience. Whereas the first app was targeted for kids six and under, Word Builder can be useful for kids as old as eight. The latest app also builds on content by shifting the focus from audio recognition of letters (i.e., the sound the letter “S”) makes, to putting those letters together to form coherent words that include Spanish phrases.
“It gets more difficult at levels, but even when they’re wrong, they’re rewarded with engaging interaction,” Stringfellow said. “We’re pushing the child a little bit harder, and there’s deeper gameplay.”
Stringfellow said that the focus of the freemium app series is to create an interesting and educational app that keeps kids coming back for more. That’s a difficult thing to balance, especially when tackling something as expansive (and error prone) as learning a new language. But he said that the company is looking for ways to not only reward a child’s attention towards the app, but to do it enough to be a go-to entertainment source on the phone or tablet.
“Every word they complete results in the collection of a prize. It’s reinforcing the behavior,” Stringfellow explained. “The entire app is built to reinforce.”
While the series is currently only geared towards Spanish education, Stringfellow said that the company is planning to expand into French, Italian, English and Chinese, to better accommodate the language desires of a global market. It’s not too much of a stretch, considering the fact that Rosetta Stone has thrived under incorporating more languages into its suite, but it’ll take time: kids don’t have the same goals that adults do when learning a language, so it involves a little more subliminal cues for a non-literate crowd.