Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Words With Bears Wants To Disrupt Language Learning

Words With Bears was created and launched at the Women 2.0 Startup Weekend and won first place. Judy Tuan pitched her idea of using a Kinect to teach a second language. The team was born when four people loved the pitch and joined Judy. Over the weekend they fine tuned the idea and vision while creating a demo. The team members are Judy Tuan, Jen Arguello, Lukas Blakk, Elsa Kim, and James Elkins.

I wondered about the feasibility of the learning aspect using motion. After reading results from a Google search I learned that Dr. James J. Asher did develop a method of leaning in the late 60's called Total Physical Response (TPR). You will notice in the demo video below that there is no recital of the word being learned; only hearing it and performing a movement associated with it. This aligns with TPR and other similar methodologies.

The game will be built for the computer (instead of the XBox) to reach a larger audience, which will initially be children aged four to ten. Before that they want to bring an education advisor on board to help them know more about how kids learn. Most interesting is that the game is being built with the foresight to also be a platform to allow other developers to build on learning decks. Decks are essentially a specific group of words that teach part of a langue for a specific job, subject, or event. Plans are also in the works to use voice recognition to bring in traditional language learning to the platform.

I love this concept and would certainly give it a try. Keep up with their ambitious plans on Twitter. Watch out Rosetta Stone!