First and foremost, despite the title, we do not recommend that teachers or caregivers use this app with babies. Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers could possibly be useful for preschoolers in language immersion school programs, or for kids who are learning some words in one of the languages featured in the app. Alternately, this app could potentially be useful for some ELL students. Listening to native speakers say important language sounds out loud may help help some older kids with their pronunciation. Teachers can play with kids to help them first listen, then try to reproduce the same sounds, and finally identify words that contain those sounds.Continue reading Show less
Unlike grown-ups, and even young children, babies can hear all the different sounds of all the world's languages. As babies hear more and more of their native language(s), they begin to specialize, and, for example, English-learning babies can no longer distinguish the different tones in Chinese words. The premise of Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers is that babies who use the app will hear sounds from four different languages, thus enabling them to more easily learn these languages later in life.
In gameplay, choose English, Spanish, French, or Italian. In each round, kids first see the shape and color of one or more target bubbles; when kids pop those bubbles, they hear building-block sounds from the chosen language. Nothing happens if they pop the non-target bubbles. Kids rack up points for popping the correct bubbles, and for catching the occasional bonus bubble. Grown-ups who create an account can see reports detailing what sounds kids have heard and how many points they've earned.
The app's developer makes big claims that seem firmly rooted in science. But, in fact, whether casual exposure to some sounds in a few languages can help kids learn other languages more easily is up for debate. What's more, some research suggests that babies do not learn language sounds from digital sources in the same way that they do from parents and caregivers. Perhaps of greatest concern is that this app is marketed for babies and toddlers, despite the countless organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as Common Sense Media, who strongly suggest that kids under the age of two focus on interactions with their environment and with people.
Take away the educational claims, and the game is a simple way to discriminate shape and/or color while having fun popping digital balloons. Instructions are not read aloud and there's little feedback for kids to distinguish between the target balloons vs. the distractor, so young kids will need help. Teachers should be skeptical about both the breadth of the developer's claims and whether this app actually provides sufficient language exposure.
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