Start up’s high tech toy teaches languages to toddlers


Five squishy, child-safe cubes interact with an app on a tablet or smartphone to teach two to six year olds

London-based start up Lingumi, founded by graduates from Oxford and UCL, has launched its first product; a mobile connected toy that teaches languages to infants through play.

The product, Lingumi Learning Cubes, consists of five squishy, child-safe cubes that interact with an app on a tablet or smartphone. The kit is designed for children aged two to six years old, the period when infants’ brains are proven to be most adapted to language learning. The game teaches five languages, including English, French, and Mandarin.

“We wanted to design an app for language learning, but our academic research and conversations with families with young children led us towards something more tactile and interactive than just tapping and swiping, so we designed the cubes,” said Toby Mather, a modern languages graduate from Oxford, who decided to start Lingumi while he was teaching English to children in Russia.

The app works using camera technology developed by co-founder Adit Trivedi, a computer science graduate from UCL. The pair met when they joined the technology investment scheme Entrepreneur First, whose previous successes include Code Kingdoms, whose website teaches children to code through building a game.

The scientific method behind the idea has been developed with advice from world experts in child language acquisition, including Professor William O’Grady from the University of Hawaii, author of ‘How Children Learn Language’ and an advisor to the company. The start up is also running an academic study with a university in the UK, to test the effectiveness of their unique method.

“Most learning apps make claims that they haven’t backed up scientifically; we’re trying to be thorough with our research,” added Mather.

Mother of two Kelly Powell, who is using Lingumi Learning Cubes to help her daughters learn Spanish, said: “It’s really nice that they control it with toys instead of just on the screen, I think this allows them more opportunity to work together at it.”


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