Dig­i­tal dic­tio­nar­ies

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Kids -

If Ju­nior is un­able to make head or tail of the Man­darin web­sites he en­coun­ters, a dic­tio­nary app or plug-in comes in use­ful. Th­ese tools trans­late words on a Chi­nese web­site au­to­mat­i­cally, with­out the user hav­ing to nav­i­gate away from the page. “Two good plug-ins for web browsers are Per­apera (www. per­apera.org) and Zhong­wen Chi­nese Popup Dic­tio­nary (http:// ad­dons.mozilla.org/en-us/fire­fox/ ad­don/zhong-wen). They can be quickly in­stalled on web browsers like Mozilla Fire­fox and Google Chrome,” sug­gests Dr Moser.

“For tablets and smartphones, there are apps like Pleco (www. pleco.com) that al­low users to in­put queries us­ing pinyin, voice com­mands or hand­writ­ing. The textto-speech func­tion in th­ese apps al­lows kids to sound out char­ac­ters,” he rec­om­mends. HOW MUCH TECH­NOL­OGY IS TOO MUCH? So how of­ten should you be us­ing tech­nol­ogy as a mode of lan­guage in­struc­tion? “Your child’s lan­guage com­pe­tency will nat­u­rally im­prove with ex­po­sure. If he dis­plays enough in­ter­est in the tool, I’d say let him con­tinue us­ing it, by all means,” says Dan Feng.

Dr Moser says: “There’s no real limit on the amount of learn­ing that can be de­rived from th­ese dig­i­tal tools. Chil­dren spend a great deal of time on their com­put­ers, both for school­work and for recre­ation. If used in the right way, th­ese tools can re­move bar­ri­ers to learn­ing Man­darin, and chil­dren can then nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to­wards other lan­guage ma­te­ri­als that spark their in­ter­est.”

How­ever, Dr Moser feels that tech­nol­ogy should com­ple­ment, not sub­sti­tute, ex­ist­ing meth­ods of lan­guage learn­ing, such as per­sonal in­struc­tion, arts and mu­sic, cal­lig­ra­phy or ver­bal lan­guage drills. “Rather, they should en­able chil­dren to free up more time for th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties,” he says.

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