Meet the bug-eyed robot teaching children Spanish
For anyone that has experience with children – be they your kids, siblings, nieces, nephews – you’ll be familiar with the arduous process of their learning a new language. You may even have shed hot tears of frustration while your six-year-old grappled with the chaussettes/chaussures distinction. No longer. This robot aims to streamline the whole exasperating process, ensuring your child’s Spanish language skills improve whilst making the whole language-learning ordeal more of a play exercise.
EMYS is the brainchild of Flash Robotics, a tripartite robot with disc-like LCD eyes (or is that eye-like LCD discs?) designed to teach four to seven-year-olds Spanish. Given the tactile nature of young children, the robot is designed to respond to touch, done so via its expressive face. It can, for example, raise its eyebrows in surprise by elevating the top section of its aforementioned three-segment head.
If you’re reluctant to expose your child to an Internet of Things toy given the recent ghoulish controversy surrounding them, you shouldn’t be; for children’s safety, EMYS is not connected to the internet. Nor should parents worry about tiresome interactions with the mechanical tutor – parents use an app to set EMYS up and to install new courses in keeping with your little darling’s inevitable linguistic advancement.
And the difference EMYS makes really is quite substantial. Anyone without much facility for languages who’s tried to learn one will be acquainted with how mind numbing flash cards and gratuitous repetition can be. Amo, Amas, Amat… repeat to fade. Torturous. But EMYS’ setup is more nuanced, and far more engaging. Instead of learning the word for ‘boat’, for example, children will learn of its context: what the boat is for, how big it is, where is intends to set sail and so forth. And there’s nothing children like more than a bit of a story.
The teaching of Spanish to English speakers (and vice versa) is the robot’s primary undertaking for now, but creators Jan Kędzierski and Michael Dziergwa hope to expand its capacity to teach more languages in the future, so the possibilities are truly far-reaching. For the time being, parents can reserve one of the weird, ingenious little guys on Kickstarter for $399 (£320). Though of course, as with any unproven Kickstarter campaign, the advice “backer beware” should ring loud and clear.
Image: Flash Robotics