While we were in the middle of exploring Cookie and Friends, I gradually introduced two more CD-ROMs, also by OUP. They are Tilly’s Word Fun 1 & Tilly’s Word Fun 2.
Tilly’s Word Fun 1 – Topics
Tilly’s Word Fun 2 – Topics
The activities used are
2. Listen and Click
3. Read and Match
4. Colours and Numbers
6. The Race Game
7. Interactive Glossary with Audio Pronunciations
I started teaching my child English when she was 3y8m old. The software that we used was very positively accepted, and the child was required to provide her responses using the computer mouse and clicking. The CD-ROM Cookie & Friends by Vanessa Reilly, OUP, was amongst the very first.
Provides a colouring activity for each of 12 different topics (relating to the Cookie and friends classbook units). This CD-ROM includes a game for each of the 12 topics. It is simple to use and doesn’t require typing skills. It covers animated traditional nursery rhymes for the children to enjoy.
My child progressed in the following way as far as this software is concerned. It took her a few minutes to learn to operate the mouse. She initially liked the coloring activities the best, then she learned to manage the games. In between she tried the digital story lots of times, and I couldn’t help feeling surprised at her not giving up, because it must have been the umpteenth time when she managed to do the whole sequence on her own. The nursery rhymes were initially disliked, but later she grew to like them very much and learned them by heart. Now that she is 6y4m old, she still hums those tunes once in a while, and asks me to put the CD-ROM on for her to practise.
Piaget (1964) cited by E. L. Criswell (1989, pp. 35-36) developed the theory that children grow intellectually in stages:
From years 0 to 2, children explore their tiny environments, and through physical exploration, learn that objects exist and do not change from day to day. This is the sensorimotor stage. This is a period of motor action.
The way I see it, the time can be successfully used for the children of this age to learn the names of different familiar objects and people in L2. It is also possible to do that in more than one second or foreign language.
The period from age 2 to 7 years is called the preoperational period by Piaget (1964). During this time, the child learns that a word can stand for, or represent, an object. Thus, using language is an important advance during this period. Children at this level can identify things they see, and they learn what things do by touching them or otherwise directly experiencing them.
Chapman, Dollaghan, Kenworthy & Miller (1983) in their article Microcomputer Testing and Teaching of Verb Meaning: What’s Easy and What’s Hard? in Classroom Computers and Cognitive Science edited by A. C. Wilkinson (1983) and cited by E. L. Criswell (1989, p. 35) all point out that facts about the young child’s developmental level should influence design of CBI for children.
Children below the age of 3 can learn to touch a screen to indicate their choices directly, but keyboard entry, even when the keyboard is color coded to the screen is too difficult for children this young.