Looking for an app to support language learning, specifically Spanish? Check out the app for kids FabuLingua: Kids Learn Spanish Through Stories.
The app features interactive stories, with fantastical and magical storylines that tricks kids into learning the language as they move through the world. The app opens unto a peaceful and colorful scene of trees and mountains and a path leading from the lake to the mountains. With bright colors and a dreamy calming nature soundtrack, the look is reminiscent of the Candyland boardgame. Players (or, er, storytellers?) can click on one of the floating animated characters, from a racoon, to a fairy, to a pirates, or a frog dressed as an explorer, each character then narrating a story where kids take the lead, sort of like a digital and colorful version of choose-your-own adventure stories, in Spanish. They can even record themselves speaking Spanish and track their progress by earning stickers, that can then be used to create their own stories! Using game play, kids navigate various stories featuring mostly magical creatures and animals. As they progress through stories and translations, it becomes more challenging. The app is interactive and readers follow along as it reads aloud in Spanish, highlighting each word as spoken. Earning points as you go, you open up new story paths and threads.
My biggest frustration using this app was that in some stories, many features seem unavailable due to a paywall. Unless you invest in the premium version through subscribing, you will not be able to get the full benefit of the app, including not being able to even finish individual stories. I seem to remember that when I first downloaded it, several months ago, there was a premium version and you could go quite far without paying; now it seems their pay set up has changed to be subscription based. Each of the stories is only available for the first few pages without subscribing. With the immersive and fantastical platform, kids could easily be tricked into subscribing if payment methods are saved on a device. I do like that the app is based on tricking kids into learning, or as the developers call it, invisible learning based in story telling. The app was conceived by a family who wanted an app of its kind. Leslie Omana Begert, along with her husband, based the game on her studies in linguistics, psychology and in her personal bilingual background. Despite the paywall, I can help but agree with the number of awards and recognition this cute and whimsical educational app has received, from being WINNER of the 2021 LaunchPad “Language Education Technology Competition”to being a 2020 winner of the AASL’s best digital tools for teaching and learning.
Commonsense media recommends it for ages four and up on a list of apps to help kids learn languages. You can read the detailed review from Commonsense media here. This language arts app is based in the essence and magic of storytelling, a creative and novel idea that requires self direction from kids as they navigate the stories and even go on to create their own narrative threads.