Cupla focal goes hi-tech with 'app' for children
TODDLERS can now use the latest technology to say their first words in both official languages.
TG4 has developed a new Irish language application, or 'app', aimed at children as young as pre-school age.
It provides more than 100 Irish language words and corresponding images to encourage children to start speaking Irish from the cradle.
The 'app' also includes the pronunciation of everyday words -- like dog, cat, sun and moon.
The free 'app' is available to download on to iPhones and iPads and will be officially launched by TG4 presenter Maire Treasa Ni Dhubhghaill at today's Oireachtas na Gaeilge Irish language cultural festival in Killarney, Co Kerry.
And it doesn't stop there.
TG4 is also developing interactive web games featuring 'Mr Men' and 'Olivia' which will be available before Christmas.
"As more kids gain access to mobile devices, iPads, tablets, and smart phones, we wanted to ensure that TG4 was accessible to them and for them to interact with the language in a fun way," said a TG4 spokeswoman.
The concept was developed by the TG4 graphics department following the success of the TG4 children's weather bulletins, she added.
"The cost was minimal. One of TG4's engineering team did the development work and the TG4 graphics team did the design."
Niall Mac Uidhilin, a lecturer in IT at the Irish language school, Acadamh na hOllscolaiochta Gaeilge, at NUI Galway, said the concept was a brilliant way to get children speaking Irish.
"I'm impressed. The voiceovers are obviously native-speaking children and I think it would be an excellent tool for kids and parents in the gaelscoils that may not have Irish themselves," he told the Irish Independent.
"Early immersion in the language is a huge thing and there's a lot of research that shows the longer they're immersed in the language in the early years, they become far more skilled in both languages later on."
The association promoting Irish language in schools, Gaelscoileanna Teo, also applauded the 'app'.
"This new resource will encourage children to learn Irish in an enjoyable way, particularly at pre-school level, which research has identified as the most important period in a child's language acquisition," a spokesperson said.
The 'app' is available to download from iTunes by searching for 'Cula4' or 'Irish language'.