I recently tagged along on Endless Oaxaca Multilingüe's trip to San Andrés Chicahuaxtla (Mexico) to visit an elementary school so high in the Sierra Madre mountains that you look down on the clouds. This region, known locally as La Mixteca, is one of Mexico's most linguistically diverse: more than half of the population speaks an indigenous language, mostly from the Otomanguean language family. To a linguist who studies these languages, the view beyond the elementary school gate is paradisal. The standard issue concrete walls are covered with colorful murals representing local flora, fauna, and radiant
I wrote a newsletter about language learning through television and film and I shared our reviews of specific learning apps in Spanish, but what's missing from this discussion is what children can (and cannot) learn from learning apps. Most children love screen time, and if kids are on screens anyway, it might as well be in their minority language, right? But can kids really screen-time their way to bilingualism? App marketing agencies would certainly like you to believe they can, and since language-learning apps generated $8.21 billion in 2021, a 32% year-on-year increase, it seems that many people do.
After six months of living in Mexico, I've finally figured out that the last Friday of every month is a professional development day, which means no school for kiddos, so we spent February's last Friday reviewing educational apps for Spanish language learners (SLLs). We only made it through 6 apps, but there are many more available, especially if you consider apps developed for native-Spanish speaking children. We'll have to do a Part 2 on the last Friday of March.