Austin moms cre­ate mo­bile apps for bilin­gual home, kids’ sports games

Ma­maLin­gua and Name the Team­mate help par­ents teach chil­dren English or Spanish and fol­low their chil­dren’s sports games.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN 360 LIFE - Ni­cole Vil­lal­pando Rais­ing Austin

Aileen Pas­sariello-McAleer and Chris­tia Madacsi Hoff­man wanted their chil­dren to learn Spanish at a young age, and they bet that they weren’t the only moms who wanted to cre­ate a bilin­gual en­vi­ron­ment at home. The Austin moms cre­ated the Ma­maLin­gua app, which of­fers real phrases a mom would ac­tu­ally use with her child.

The phrases are things like: “Do you have to go to the bath­room? ¿Tienes que ir al baño?” or “Do you like this book? ¿Te gusta este li­bro?”

“We’re giving them ba­sic stuff that is rel­e­vant,” Pas­sariello-McAleer says. It’s in the con­text of their ev­ery­day life, mak­ing it more likely to be mem­o­rable rather than learn­ing words and phrases that don’t ap­ply.

The app al­lows you to set English or Spanish as your pri­mary lan­guage, and you don’t just read the phrase. It pro­nounces it for you. There’s also a vo­cab­u­lary tab of words com­monly used. You can se­lect fa­vorites that you per­son­ally use of­ten and sort by cat­e­gory or al­pha­bet­i­cally.

Ma­maLin­gua has a free ver­sion as well as a pre­mium ver-

sion for $7.99 on iTunes and on Google Play. The free ver­sion has just a taste of the phrases the pre­mium ver­sion has.

New phrases get added to the app, and on Ma­maLin­gua’s Face­book page, new of­fer­ings are posted reg­u­larly. The app is geared for young chil­dren from birth to age 3 but can ex­tend through early el­e­men­tary school age.

“It’s straight­for­ward,” Pas­sariello-McAleer says. “It’s for par­ents to learn and to teach.” And it’s on a de­vice that par­ents of­ten have around them — the cell­phone.

Pas­sariello-McAleer and Hoff­man have back­grounds in lan­guage. Pas­sariel­loMcAleer’s par­ents are Venezue­lan and she grew up in a bilin­gual home and speaks only Spanish to her chil­dren, who are 3 and 6, but her hus­band speaks English to them. Hoff­man stud­ied French in col­lege and lived for a time in her child­hood in Hun­gary.

Pas­sariello-McAleer pre­vi­ously worked at IBM and has a Mas­ter of Busi­ness from the Univer­sity of Texas. Hoff­man is a writer and graphic de­signer but re­cently got into act­ing and can be seen in com­mer­cials and mag­a­zine ads. They con­nected through their mu­tual in­ter­est in rais­ing bilin­gual chil­dren at a meetup group Pas­sariel­loMcAleer started.

Even if Hoff­man had stud­ied Spanish in­stead of French, she says, she wouldn’t have learned the phrases that she would need to speak to her daugh­ter, who is 5.

With other pro­grams, Hoff­man says, “it’s one word at a time,” and that’s not how kids pick up lan­guage. The early years are when kids are most likely to find it eas­ier to learn a sec­ond lan­guage, plus their brain is con­stantly de­vel­op­ing the path­ways to make lan­guage ac­qui­si­tion eas­ier later in their lives. Be­ing bilin­gual has been shown to im­prove in­tel­li­gence as well as crit­i­cal think­ing skills.

Pas­sariello-McAleer and Hoff­man are work­ing with schools that are ei­ther bilin­gual or have a strong Spanish-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion to get them the app. Par­ents can use it to learn English, and their chil­dren, who are learn­ing English in school, can use it to help their par­ents.

They also are work­ing to sell Spanish books for par­ents to read to their chil­dren.

What’s go­ing on in the game? Now you can know

Austin mom Laura LeMond has two boys, ages 14 and 16, who grew up play­ing flag foot­ball. She re­mem­bers hav­ing to ask a fel­low par­ent, “Who’s that kid who just scored?” When they got older in mid­dle school and high school, she would get a pa­per ros­ter of the team to try to fol­low the game.

We pre­vi­ously fea­tured LeMond as the founder of Mo­saic weighted blan­kets. Now’s she’s cre­ated the app Name the Team­mate.

The app al­lows an ad­min­is­tra­tor to plug in the ros­ter of kids and then give ac­cess to the par­ents on the team. The coach can post the sched­ule and link to Google Maps to get to each field or court. Come game day, the coach can send out email no­ti­fi­ca­tions of player po­si­tions or record stats and share them. Par­ents can fol­low the game and see who just did what. The op­pos­ing team can also opt in and see who the other team’s play­ers are.

LeMond says, as a par­ent, she has “spent hours of sit­ting at dif­fer­ent sport­ing events, and I just didn’t know who the kid who was scor­ing.” The app al­lows teams to de­cide what level of in­for­ma­tion they want to pro­vide.

It does take par­ent or coach in­volve­ment, but LeMond be­lieves many par­ents would be will­ing to do it. As any par­ent who has a kid in sports knows, “it takes a cer­tain amount of ded­i­ca­tion to drive the kids and get there. It’s com­pletely self-or­ga­nized.”

The app is free on iTunes and Google Play, but even­tu­ally there might be a pre­mium ver­sion with ad­di­tional fea­tures.


You can set your pri­mary lan­guage on Ma­maLin­gua to English or to Spanish.


Name the Team­mate, from Austin mom Laura LeMond, helps you keep a sched­ule of games.


The Ma­maLin­gua app helps par­ents and their young chil­dren learn Spanish or English. It’s from the minds of Austin moms Aileen Pas­sariello-McAleer and Chris­tia Madacsi Hoff­man.


Par­ents can con­trol the in­for­ma­tion seen by users of Name the Team­mate.


The coach or ad­min­is­tra­tor can load all of the team­mates onto the Name the Team­mate app.


The app lets you look up words and phrases by cat­e­gory.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.