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Blog, Education

Can Bilingual Education Apps Bridge the Digital Divide?

by Miguel Machado
May 09, 2016

Children begin to learn about the world around them at an early age. With neurological research stressing the importance of early brain development, it is important to establish environments for young children that encourage learning. In today’s digital world, the passing of devices like tablets and smartphones from parents to children is an opportunity to do just that.

Apps can be a convenient way to promote early childhood tech education. In particular, apps geared toward the Spanish speaking community, like Juana y Los Amigos de la Granja, address the digital divide that is widening between young Latinos and their white peers in the U.S.

But why is this gap so prevalent in the first place? It is not due to a lack of access, as was once thought. In fact, a study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center shows that due to the prevalence of mobile devices like smart phones, access to digital media among Latinos is actually increasing.

Can Bilingual Education Apps Bridge the Digital Divide?

Instead, the difference between the two groups is how they use the technology, not whether or not they have access to it. The same study shows that while there is an increase in the “pass back” of devices between parents and children in Latino households, it lags behind that of whites. This is because the primary tool of entertainment/education in Latino households remains the television.

However, with the rapid growth of the Spanish language (currently 2nd in the world among native speakers), quality apps that promote bilingual education are becoming more available.

Little Pim, for example, is a fun app that teaches vocabulary associated with eating, drinking, playing, sharing, sleeping and waking. It includes a number of interactive games that are bound to engage young users.

Children with more active imaginations may benefit from Kandoobi Animales, an immersive app that features over 100 domestic and wild animals. It’s a fun way to teach children language skills, while at the same time, expose them to the many different animals that are in the world.

For those parents who are unable to spring for those $2.99 apps, Ana Lomba‘s Spanish for Kids apps are free, and tell entertaining stories to teach young children Spanish or English.

Regardless of which bilingual education apps parents choose, they are an important step in getting Latino parents more digitally involved. Here’s hoping that more apps are developed in the future to encourage an active “pass back” culture in Latino communities.

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