Every time I've been to Holland, I've been amazed at the number of languages that many people could speak fluently. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the Dutch start teaching their children other languages at a very early age. I came across a very simple and well-designed app that might prove that's true. iKidz Pro (US$2.99) is an educational universal iOS app that teaches very small children basic words in nine languages: US English, UK English, Spanish, Dutch, French, Italian, Russian, Polish and Turkish, with more on the way. For fun, a baby language was put in that doesn't teach anything but is fun to play with.
If a child taps on a picture within a category, the picture expands to the whole screen, and the written word and picture are displayed. If the child taps anywhere on the page, an animated written word pops in, and the word is spoken in a perfectly accented language of the parent's choice. If tapped more than once, each tap shows the printed word in a different color, and the word is spoken again. That's all it does, but for little ones, I think it's more than enough as an introduction to language education.
Designed for kids one and up, iKidz Pro contains numbers, colors, shapes and animals, each on an individual page. First, the parent selects a language and lets the child have at it. Each category is displayed on a single brightly colored page showing all the choices. On each page there are two buttons, one marked with a big circled X and one with a circled question mark. The X button brings up a screen with all the numbers, animals or whatever is chosen. It also brings up a small menu bar at the bottom of the screen that will let the parent select a language and provides a number of options -- enabling or disabling, pop up words, automatic sounds, enabling swiping and showing a random choice button. Swiping left or right from this main screen lets you choose between categories. The other big circled question mark button brings up a random picture within the category. This button can be disabled in the options. Once a picture within a category is chosen, the app remains in that category until the big circled X button is tapped.
The interface seems to be quite intuitive for a small child, since it's very sparse and makes it hard to tap on anything inadvertently. When an item is displayed, swiping left or right brings up the previous or next picture. This is only really relevant when using numbers, since all the other categories are in no particular order.
iKidz Pro is a compilation of four other apps: iKidz 123, iKidz Colors ($0.99 each), iKidz Animals ($1.99), and iKidz Shapes (free), so buying iKidz Pro at $2.99 can save a bit of money.
The app was designed as an initiative from an international daycare center named Teddy Kids Palace in Leiden, Netherlands, where they have found it to be quite useful in early language training. The big buttons and ability to tap anywhere on the screen make it easy to use for even the smallest child. I consider this a very useful and inexpensive app that will introduce even the smallest of children to language learning and recommend it highly.
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Take a look at iKidz Pro in action in the video below.