12 questions about my child and Lingumi...answered

We get many questions about using Lingumi with your child, what's normal, what's best, and how it all works linguistically. We've answered them below. If you have any other questions, let us know, by emailing [email protected]!

1.) When should my child start repeating the words? What if they repeat them wrong?

This is different for every child. Some children are more ‘absorbers’ before they are ‘talkers’, and, just like with their mother tongue, they might begin repeating earlier or later. Typically, we find most children begin repeating and remembering words from as early as lesson 3 or 4, and you’ll be surprised how much they remember early on. However, even if not repeating, they will be absorbing and remembering the information…it’s just being stored away for later. In the question games from lessons 2-3 onwards, you’ll see how well they remember things. And of course, feel free to play along and help them!

2.) Should I repeat them too? Or will by bad accent affect how my child learns?

You definitely should repeat them! As you’ll see below, playing and learning along with your child helps them learn faster. However, it’s worth only repeating the word after your child has, or after the voice in the app. Let them clearly hear the correct pronunciation first, so they can copy the sounds from Lingumi, and not from you. They’ll learn directly from the first way they hear the word, not from your accent necessarily.

3.) How engaged should I be while they’re playing? Will it help?

Yes, and they’ll have more fun

As a parent, being engaged while your child learns definitely helps. In fact, in a study we did with a university in the UK, a group learning French as a second language using versions of our app learned 73% more effectively when their parents joined in the games, repeated words, and pointed and looked at the device with their child. Your presence in your child’s life helps them learn and absorb new things. However, don’t worry if you want to leave them quietly for a bit! It doesn’t create a negative impact, if you sneak away for a few minutes…!

4.) Why is the voice in the app quite slow when it says words and phrases?

The words and phrases in the app are slower and clearer than ‘normal speed’ English. This is a concept from linguistics called ‘augmented prosody’…sounds complex, right? All it means, is that children learn new sounds and information best, when everything happens a bit more slowly and clearly. Just like the way that parents typically ‘put on a parent voice’ with young children, we do the same thing with the way we teach English.

5.) What accent is used in the app?

The voice in the app is actually Toby, our founder’s voice. His accent is a neutral English one, without a London or regional accent. It’s the sort of accent called ‘BBC English’ by some people, and will make your child easy to understand around the world, including in the USA. We think it’s best to start learning English in a natural, neutral British accent, because that’s the ‘original’ language - they’ll fit in anywhere, rather than beginning with a strong American or Australian variation!

You also shouldn’t worry about their school teacher later having an American or German accent. Your child will find it easy to understand - even if their accent is better than the teacher’s! Accents adapt throughout life, but beginning with a ‘neutral’ one makes learning the language easiest.

6.) Should we also hear the words in the child’s mother tongue, and then in English? Won’t that help?

We asked our academic advisors about this too. They’re professors who have been studying how children learn languages for decades. And the answer is a big no! Don’t underestimate the power of your child’s brain: they don’t need to hear the word in their mother tongue, if it’s visually clear, what the thing is in front of them. With Lingumi, we make that process really effective in the way we design games. So you don’t need to hear or say the word in the mother tongue first. Learning the words directly in English is the most effective way for your child to learn.
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7.) Can I talk to my child in the mother tongue while playing? Will they get confused.**

Yes! Don’t worry about them getting confused. Their powerful brains will understand that it’s something different coming from Lingumi, to their mother tongue. You can describe it as ‘English’ to them, even if they are very little. Using phrases like ‘das ist ein Dog’ is also ok. Your child will understand that you’re using the word from the other language.

8.) The app starts with single words. Does it become more complex later?

Yes. The curriculum begins with single words, mostly nouns like food words or animals. From there, in later lessons the nouns begin to be layered with adjectives, verbs, and phrases. For example, after learning something like ‘dog’, soon your child will learn things like ‘the dog is red’ or ‘the big red dog is jumping’. We’ve constructed the order of lessons carefully, and it adapts a bit to your child while they play, so they can learn things in the right order and rhythm.

9.) What age is best to begin?

We encourage families to begin using Lingumi when your child is between 2 and 6 years old. Starting as young as 2 is fine, and so is as old as 5. The brain in this period is at its most powerful, and will adapt and learn fastest. The lessons will adapt over time to make sure your child is learning the right things for them.

10.) My child didn’t love the first lesson. What do I do?

Keep going for a few lessons. Let us know if you need to extend your test period, or want some advice. We hear from families that the magic number is 5 lessons: by this point, your child will be more comfortable with the app and create a rhythm around using it, and start to have a playful time and learn fast. So keep going, don’t worry!

11.) Why can’t we play more lessons per day?

We’ve limited lessons to one each day, but you can always repeat your favourite games. This is partly to control screen

12.) Won't learning a second language damage my child's mother tongue?

This theory, called 'language confusion' has been rejected by linguists recently. Children are incredibly good at learning languages in their early years. They can learn several at once, without difficulty, and even hear them used by the same person without being confused. So don't worry - if anything, learning a new language will ignite their curiosity in language as a whole, improve their brain function, and so improve their abilities in their mother tongue!