FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: How does Moomin Language School work?
A: Moomin Language School combines individual and group learning into bite-sized learning moments. Children use the learning application individually for 5-15 minutes every day to build up vocabulary and grammar. Once a week, their own teacher organizes a playful lesson where children get to use the language in interaction with the teacher and each other. Through consistent participation, children build a strong foundation for the new language that will last a lifetime.
Q: Which languages can the children learn?
A: At the moment we offer two languages: English and Finnish. Our plans of world conquer include widening our language selection, so subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll keep you informed!
Q: Who can buy Moomin Language School licenses?
A: Licenses are bought by an educational institution, such as a school, a kindergarten, a nursery, a training center or an after-school club.
Q: Can the learning application be used on a computer?
A: Currently no; the application is available for iOS and Android tablets.
Q: What age and development level is the service suitable for?
A: The ideal age to start Moomin Language School is 4-6, but some of our users have started when they were only 3. Younger children may need an adult’s help in the beginning until their fine motor skills catch up. We also recommend a shorter time limit for younger children. Older children will benefit from the service, too, but they may find the beginning a little slow if they already have some skills in the foreign language. The service works best with children who have no prior knowledge of the foreign language, but it has also been used with more advanced children.
Q: Are there different levels?
A: At the moment, all children start on the same level – the beginning. This helps children become familiar with the story and the family whose life the application follows. There is a possibility for children with prior knowledge of the new language to progress faster in the application, but this needs to be decided with the educational institution on a case-by-case basis. We are working on bringing level tests and a placement test into the service in the future.
Q: Is Moomin Language School suitable for children who cannot read yet?
A: Yes, it is. The entire service is completely accessible with no reading skills or letter recognition skills required. In fact, it’s better to learn language by listening and speaking first and proceed to reading later.
Q: Why do children use the application only for 5 to 15 minutes a day?
A: This is based on the researched concept of spaced learning. According to spaced learning theories, learning is a lot more effective when done in small but frequent chunks as opposed to long periods less frequently. That’s why the times used with the application are short but take place every day. Additionally, the children using our service are very young and their attention spans are short. We want to give them only as much information as they can absorb at a time. All children are different, but a good rule of thumb for how long a child can concentrate is the child’s age plus 1. So a three-year-old can generally concentrate fully for four minutes at a time.
Q: How do you make sure the children don’t overuse the application?
A: Every weekday one unique study unit is unlocked in the application. The children cannot proceed faster than that. The application also has a password protected time limit that can be set to 5, 10, or 15 minutes depending on the children’s varying needs.
Q: I have a question/complaint/technical issue that is not covered here.
A: We’d be more than happy to help! Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Q: As a teacher, what is my role in the service?
A: We’ve made things as easy as possible for the teacher. You have your own username and password that you use to log in to the application for your students. The children each have their own account, and they will soon learn to navigate the application by themselves. You will hold the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, but the learning is up to them. As a teacher, you will also have access to our playful lessons. You are free to use them as you wish. There are written pre-planned 30-to-45-minute lessons for each week that you can use with your group, or you can pick and choose from a variety of activities and use them when it works for you.
Q: What is the theory base of your learning method?
A: We don’t subscribe to one single learning theory. Instead, we combine a variety of theories. Some of these include communicative language teaching, Lev Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal development’ and learning as a social process, John Dewey’s idea of learning by doing, and Hermann Ebbinghaus’s memory research.
Q: What is your curriculum based on?
A: The principles of our curriculum are based on the Finnish early education curriculum and principles, language immersion and spaced learning. This means that language is learned by encountering the language in various situation and through interaction. Children learn about their environment in the new language through exploration, active learning and artistic expression among other things.
Q: How broad is the curriculum?
A: The full scope of the service is four years of daily learning with a vocabulary of up to 3,000 words (This we need to open more). The service covers all areas of language learning – listening, speaking, reading and writing – with a special focus on conversation.
Q: What are your themes and vocabulary based on?
A: Our vocabulary base covers core vocabulary and high-frequency words from for example the Dolch word list, and the Cambridge Young Learners English requirements. The themes both support the vocabulary and reflect children’s real experiences and interests from everyday chores to space
Q: Do you only teach vocabulary?
A: No, we don’t. There are simple conversational sentences included from day one. As the curriculum progresses, the content will gradually become more immersive and sentence-based, and more complex grammar structures are introduced. In the beginning, however, the focus is on building vocabulary and getting to know the new language.
Q: Does Moomin Language School teach speech and pronunciation?
A: Yes, it does. Both the application and the playful lessons include exercises specifically designed to rehearse proper pronunciation and encourage conversation.
Q: How does Moomin Language School teach communication skills?
A: There are simple conversational sentences and polite language use in the application from day one. The playful lessons are designed to encourage the children to use what they have learned in the application to communicate with each other and the teacher.
Q: Does Moomin Language School teach any other skills than language?
A: The many benefits of early language learning are well documented, but that’s not the only way our service supports children’s development. Digital and fine motor skills are enhanced, naturally. The stories in the service teach empathy, everyday skills, interesting facts about nature and different cultures, just to mention a few. Additionally, the wide variety of activities in the application and the playful lessons develop creativity and problem-solving skills.
Q: How does Moomin Language School encourage creativity in children?
A: The service includes creativity in both the application and the playful lessons. The application teaches language in a way that leaves room for the children’s interpretation. There are little stories everywhere. Every week there are also new extracurricular activities like coloring, puzzles, rhymes, and songs. The playful lessons include many activities that boost creativity as well as language skills.
Q: Does Moomin Language School teach 21st century skills?
A: Yes, it does. The various 21st century skills, otherwise known as transversal competences, go hand in hand with the principles of Finnish education, and they have been taken into consideration in the planning of the service. We also continue to build them into the service as we develop it further.
Q: What happens in the playful lessons?
A: Each lesson consists of three parts. The lesson begins with circle time, where the children connect and orientate to the lesson as a group. Then children do various activities such as physical games, arts and crafts, and singing songs. These activities are related to the theme of the week, encouraging the children to speak and use the language they’ve learned. At the end of the lesson, the group comes back together to connect, ground themselves and say goodbye with a goodbye rhyme. The playful lessons have been designed to be flexible and enable teachers to choose the parts that work for them and adapt them for their children’s level and needs.
Q: Do the playful lessons come in languages other than English?
A: We currently offer playful lessons only in English. However, the lessons are available to all our teachers, so there is no reason why you couldn’t adapt the games and activities to your group’s needs in other languages, too. If you do, we’d love to hear about your experience!
Q: I don’t speak fluent English. Can I still use Moomin Language School and organize the playful lessons for children?
A: Yes, you can. The service does not expect the children to already know English. The instructions of the playful lessons are in English, but they are very clearly written and planned with visual cues. All the poems and songs have been pre-recorded by our native voice actors, so that you can concentrate on your role in supporting the children’s learning journey.
Q: I work with children who have special needs. Will Moomin Language School work for them?
A: We have had good experiences with all kinds of learners. For example, kids who have language development delays have improved their mother tongue skills along with their new language skills. Research supports our experiences, but you are the expert on your students. All we can say is that they might surprise you!
Q: I want to use the service with my class. What do I do?
A: We’re glad to hear it! You can begin by contacting our distributor in your area. If there is no Moomin Language School distributor where you are, please send us a message and we’ll help you along.