Lingo Blubs: Learn English is an app that aims to help kids learn English by giving them the opportunity to interact with videos of native English-speaking kids their own age. With 1,500 available activities, kids can learn vocabulary from their peers, sing songs, engage in role-playing activities, and play games on the app. The app has a one-week free trial and costs $9.99 a month.
Lingo Blubs capitalizes on the fact that kids learn really well from their peers. As someone who has taught and spent significant time with young children, I can attest to the power of kid YouTubers in captivating young audiences. Engaging with native English-speaking kids their own age can help non-native learners of English perfect proper pronunciation in an immersive learning environment. It can also help them better contextualize their language learning through introducing them to children like them who speak this language daily.
Lingo Blubs offers hundreds of activities teaching vocab words in nearly every category imaginable. The user can choose what they’d like to learn based on the categories they are most interested in, and as they learn, they also get to watch short videos utilizing the vocabulary in context. What makes this so fun is that each vocabulary word is paired with a video filter users can apply when practicing speaking, introducing play into the learning experience. For example, when learning to say the word "astronaut", the user sees themselves in an astronaut suit, and when learning the word banana, the user gets to pose, pretending to eat a banana that appears on screen.
While Lingo Blubs users are encouraged to repeat a word many times upon being introduced to it, the user never revisits vocabulary unless they choose to do so. A child who is introduced to fifteen new words isn’t going to really learn those words if they don’t revisit them at a later date. A quiz component, or a repeated lesson of what the user has already learned would be helpful from time to time to make sure children are retaining new concepts.
While Lingo Blubs seems to focus exclusively on vocabulary, it would be nice if it also gave young children simple sentences to practice. There are units where children say things like, "I’m sad" but the user isn’t asked to repeat them, but instead identify a photo that corresponds with the emotion conveyed. Similarly, though the app doesn’t teach reading, sometimes Lingo Blubs provides an audio prompt but requires the user to respond by choosing an image paired with text; comprehension and reading are tested, but not speaking. This mismatch demonstrates a missed opportunity to have a learner practice words in different ways and in a more realistic context.
Lingo Blubs seems like a great way to expose young English Language Learners to peers speaking the target language. However, for this to be an effective program, it needs to include more repetition and expand to include the learning of phrases. For now, it is a nice tool to accompany another learning program.Image: by Lingo Blubs