Now we’re talking! New telephone app studies language development of children

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

A mobile app that resembles an online speech diary for observing early language development in children has been developed by scientists from the University of Warsaw.

'StarWords - every word counts' from the MultiLADA team at the university’s Faculty of Psychology, is the first free app of this type in Poland aimed at parents of Polish monolingual, bilingual or even trilingual children aged 0 to 2 years.

In cooperation with researchers from Oslo Metropolitan University, the University of Oslo, Lancaster University and the University of Cambridge, the objective of the project is to study the early linguistic development of monolingual and bilingual children. 

Writing on their website, the scientists said: “Our aim is to characterize the early language development in bilingual children. To that end we test two groups of Polish bilingual children (focusing on children living in Norway and in the UK), and we compare their language development with that of their Polish monolingual peers. 

“For this reason, we track language development in bilingual children in their two languages, starting from the moment they produce their first words to the age of 3-4 years.”

The project called 'New perspectives on assessing early language development in mono- and bilingual context: a web-based interactive parental report in a longitudinal study' is carried out under the supervision of Professor Ewa Haman from the University of Warsaw and Professor Niny Gram Garmann from OsloMet, and financed with a National Science Centre grant.

Professor Haman said: “Even though bilingualism and multilingualism are now common (also among Poles living abroad), still little is known about the early linguistic development of bilingual and multilingual children. Previous studies were mostly based on paper questionnaires or interviews with parents, but due to logistical difficulties, such studies have only a few measuring points, for example  meetings with parents every six months.”

The Starwords app will also enable users to identify the linguistic environment factors affect these achievements.

Professor Haman added: “We also want the results of the study to be the basis for formulating recommendations for parents and professionals dealing with young children, for these people to be able to effectively support the linguistic development of monolingual and multilingual children.”

In return for their activity in the app, parents of Polish monolingual and multilingual children receive access to materials on child development: podcasts with scientists, articles, personalized colouring books and online bookstore vouchers.

The free application 'StarWords - every word counts' is available in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

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