There is exciting new brain research out for schools and families about the long lasting benefits of bilingualism. Educators have been aware of the advantages of dual language learning in childhood for quite some time, and now we are now thrilled to see the staying power of these benefits.
This NPR piece, entitled “New Study Shows Brain Benefits of Bilingualism,” offers a particularly helpful look at this effect based on a research report delineating “the bilingual advantages in attention and executive functions.”
Certainly, the process of acquiring language begins early in life and can be fun for the whole family as we expand our skills of communication. With Spanish being the most widely used non-English language in the US, we happily offer 5 bilingual apps that focus on Spanish and English:
1. Pepe and Pepita: Bilingual Spanish Gender & Vocab Challenge (by Mrs. Judd's Games) is a lively game for ages 9+ teaching the gender of Spanish nouns & 200 vocabulary words in English and Spanish. Within the app's charming “Day of the Dead” aesthetic, players help a pair of cartoon skeletons collect illustrated words based on word endings & grammar rules. High scores earn toy trophies from a Mexican toy shelf, as well as fun mini-games with a racing luchador wrestler!
2. Spanish English Dictionary (by Ascendo) is an extremely helpful reference tool. Written word meanings & audio pronunciations make this a great app to place on a younger student’s iPad, whereas the iPhone is the perfect place for adults to have a handy bilingual tool. A lite version exists, but this full version is especially valuable!
3. Dic Dic: Multilingual dictation to practise spelling, writing and sound-letter matching (by Perception Technologies, S.L.) is a playful game with illustrated words, easy keyboarding action, and voiced vocab/letters. Kids practice spelling skills in Spanish, American English, British English (and more). Players can select their difficulty level, and whether or not to be given clues & explicit corrections.
4. Learn Spanish for Kids - Bilingual Child (by Tiny Factory) is designed for very young kids, offering small books that teach words and conversational phrases in written speech bubbles & voice over. It's cute for little ones and various thematic books are available for purchase.
5. Cute Baby Flash Cards: an educational app for kids in preschool and Kindergarten (by United Worx Ltd) gives families an adorable set of illustrated word cards to see & hear. Use with toddlers or pre-k kids, and decide if you also want to expand beyond Spanish and English into French, German, Italian, Greek, Russian & more!