Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Shona language learning app developed for diaspora kids

By Own correspondent

A UK-based company has developed a Shona language learning app to help Zimbabwean parents who are settled in the diaspora to teach their children the basics of the language.

Jane Doka, spokesperson for MJDK Ltd
Jane Doka, spokesperson for MJDK Ltd

MJDK Ltd came up with the illustrated Chii? Shona word learning and reading app to give parents a starting point in teaching their children the language of their motherland.

Jane Doka, spokesperson for MJDK Ltd, said they developed the Chii? App after observing how most migrant communities struggled to pass on their mother language to their children who are born or raised in their adopted country.

“For parents who are juggling busy working and family lives, this often means they have little time to teach their kids their language and the children inevitably speak the language of the society in which they live since it surrounds their every experience.

“Our Zimbabwean diaspora community is no exception to this rule, and so we saw an opportunity to help bridge this language gap in the home by developing an app that uses words, descriptive images and a touch to speech feature to assist the user.

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“The app is currently presented in four sections which are: naming, things we do, general speech, and constructing sentences,” Doka explained.

The interactive and user friendly app also includes a fifth section which provides users with an entertaining revision quiz of what they have learnt.

It is suited both for children from as young as their early formative stages and adult speakers of other languages who may have a desire to learn Shona.

“Zimbabweans have intermarried with other cultures here in the diaspora, and they may wish to have their spouses or children understand a few basics of the Shona language. The Chii? App is the perfect tool for that,” Doka added.

While many parents appear to have given up hopes of ever getting their children to master their mother tongue, research by MJDK Ltd between March and April last year showed that a huge number of parents still wished to have their children at least grasp the basics of Shona.

The developers assessed the available learning resources and found most of them to be rather complex and unsuitable for teaching children and beginners. They also considered the prevalent use of information technologies in the home such as iPads and smart phones and saw this as the perfect platform to deliver the language lessons.

“Combining all these factors we decided to step in and assist in teaching the Shona language in the form of an app that can be downloaded anytime, anywhere and by anyone. While the app is at this stage not exhaustive, we believe that it is a great starting point and has great potential for growth,” Doka said.

The Chii? App can be downloaded from Google Play and Apple iStore.