Those lovely people at UltimateSpelling.com recently approached us to request an interview with Studycat, on the topic of language learning apps. However, Studycat has been very busy developing stories and games, so we sent along Dan Lambert to answer all the questions. Here’s a transcript of the interview.
Parents increasingly give kids a tablet during long car trips, or let them use a computer so they can get some work done. With more and more children getting their own smartphones, they’re never far away from technology. Now it’s time to put that technology to good use. Daniel Lambert and his team have developed a great language learning app to help children learn English skills, and all using state-of-the-art fun-filled apps.
US: Your website tells a cute story about Study Cat, the young kitten who wanted a new and different way to learn. What’s the human story behind the website and the apps?
DL: The human story is surprisingly similar to the feline story. Just a few details are different. We are teachers for over twenty years, and we started with our own schools here in Taiwan. They were relatively successful, but we saw the much larger potential of online education. The next step was an online English course. This was slightly less successful, but we learned valuable lessons from this experience. We learned that kids love to play games more than they love to learn English!
The main focus when we moved into app development was primarily playing games, not learning. The fun had to be paramount in our plans, and then the learning would follow.
US: Why did you decide to focus on language learning apps instead of other media approaches?
DL: We saw how apps were becoming a part of kids’ lives, more so than computers. We looked at the apps that were available and struggled to find any that combined fun and learning in the way that we knew kids would enjoy. We saw the possibility to bring much more fun teaching games to kids. The smartphone and tablet market was really starting to take off so we just jumped on board and started to make ‘Fun English’. Now we have about 1.75 million users so we know we made the right decision.
US: Your Fun English Course teaches vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling, along with basic English grammar skills. How do you integrate games into the lessons?
DL: In fact, we did the reverse. We worked on creating really fun and engaging games, and then organising lessons around them. We focussed on basic vocabulary groups such as colors, numbers, and animals, then we added a simple sentence pattern or grammar rule and applied it to the lesson. Once we had the educational plan in place we went back and made an additional game we designed specifically to teach this grammar point.
US: You designed the course for children as young as age 3, according to the website. If children start out with the apps and go through them all, do you offer more challenging lessons for kids who’ve learned everything from the basic courses?
DL: We would love to and that may happen in the future. At present though we are focused on making the existing apps as good as they can possibly be. At present we’re focused on making our existing apps as good as they can possibly be and developing complementary apps such as phonics and our soon to be launched reading app, Fun English Stories.
US: You’ve got other language packages available for downloading that teach Spanish and Chinese. Do you plan on adding more languages in the future, or will you focus on adding new content to the existing languages?
DL: We have many exciting plans. We will have to wait and see which ones come to fruition. At the moment we are expanding the Fun Chinese and Fun Spanish apps to add more lessons. Our users have asked for French and Russian so they may be next. We’re just about to launch a new English language app called ‘Fun English Stories’ which helps young kids to learn how to read and build sentences. It complements lessons learned in Fun English but is also great fun for kids who haven’t used Fun English. There are plans to make a phonics and spelling series too. There just are not enough hours in the day, or days in a week!
Ultimate Spelling, the industry-leading spelling improvement software for kids, is developed, published and sold by eReflect. Founded in 2006, eReflect is a world leader in education and self -improvement software.
At Studycat, we create language learning apps to engage, entertain and educate kids. We built our expertise over many years of teaching languages to children in the classroom, online and now through apps.
Further information about our products, can be found in the About Us section of the Studycat website.