Language App for Preschool Refugee Kids

Language App for Preschool Refugee Kids

Our challenge, your solutions

Language App for Preschool Refugee Kids

As long as wars and disasters continue in the world there will always be refugee children struggling to adapt their host communities because of their language barriers. This ongoing problem requires immediate cost-effective solution for all countries around the world. 


Team: Language Hackers

Team members

Serkan Çankaya, Ayse Taskiran, Hulya Duzenli, Aysun Gunes, Ayhan Kuş

Members roles and background

Our mentor Serkan Çankaya is an expert on instructional technologies. Ayse Taskiran, Hulya Duzenli and Aysun Gunes are both EFL teachers and Distance Education experts. Ayhan Kuş is a undergraduate student at advertising department.

Contact details

Solution description

We are planning to design an application that runs  online/offline on mobile devices to teach language in a cost-effective manner. This application has the following features:

  • •Can be used online/offline
  • •Adopts game-based approach
  • •Designed for illiterate preschool children
  • •Comprises cultural elements of both refugees’ and the host communities’ culture
  • •Lets learner move across the levels that get harder according to the evaluation of the learner’s performance by AI technology
  • •Presents game environment including voiced characters and system instructions that help learners to interact with the content via AI and speech recognition techs acting as chatbots. By this way, the learner gets the opportunity to interact with the system and improve speaking skill by  actively using the target language.
  • •Records all learner activities which can be monitored and analyzed by the authorities to trach learners’ progress.

Tablets  with this app  installed will be distributed to those disadvantaged kids free.

In this app there is a simulation of a neighborhood where the player can meet  avatars of his/her age who look like people from his country and people from host community. In the simulation the player will complete tasks with gradual difficulty level. These tasks are compatible with his/her age group, such as putting apples in a basket or giving a candy to a friend. The player gets a badge on completing each task successfully. These tasks will also include speaking activities with the animated avatars.

Solution context

According to a report by 28 million children worldwide are fleeing from war and violence. Unfortunately, only 61% of the refugee children can go to school. UNICEF points out that  schools  are not inclusive enough to provide  those vulnerable/ disadvantaged kids with  appropriate learning environments. In their host communities hundreds and thousands of kid s are out of school, such as Syrian refugees in Turkey according to UNICEF’s report. Also, there are  more than 22.500  refugee children struggling to fit into school in Greece, Cyprus and Balkans. Moreover, 15 % of 100.000 refugees who travel from North  Africa to Italy. Especially during preschool period these kids cannot adapt to the school environment because they do not know the language of the host community. While this problem is that serious, there is not much scientific evidence on the school outcomes of preschool refugee children. For instance, according to a systematic review of 34 studies, there were no data on preschool or primary school outcomes of refugee kids (Graham, Minhas, Paxton, 2016). Language turns into a handicap for those vulnerable kids and they cannot solve this problem on their own. Teaching target language to  those kids who are struggling to adapt to their new communities is a big challenge as they are  illiterate little ones. This challenge even gets bigger since those kids tend to spend most of their time with their parents and the other refugee kids, which prevents them from practicing the target language of the host community.

Solution target group

2-5 year-old refugee kids.

Above all, this solution will help  preschool refugee kids to adapt to their environment more easily thanks to practicing the target language. Also, their parents will be able to assist their kids learn the language at home, which might also result in their learning the language. Finally, this app will help reduce burden on preschool teachers as it will improve the readiness level of the kids.

Solution impact

There are millions of preschool refugee kids who are out of school because of not knowing the language of the host community all around the world and this is not a temporary problem. Therefore, the impact of this solution is on a large scale in the long run. This solution might  be a good way to fight against discrimination of  refugee kids in their host community. It also helps kids continue their formal education and blend in the society more comfortably. On learning the language, the kids will become more socialized and so will their parents.

How do you measure it?

There are many ways to measure the success of this solution:

1.User logs can be used as indicators of effectiveness of the app.

2.Parents and preschool teachers can vote and with comments about the usability and effectiveness of the app.

3.Preschool teachers’ observations of those kids while socializing and using the language can be success indicators as well.

4.The  number of out of school kids might be another sign of the success of this app.

Solution tweet text

Let the preschool refugee kids be free and comfortable to be a part of their host communities by hacking their language barriers with a game-based language learning app. #digieduhack #digieduhackanadolu

Solution innovativeness

There is almost no scientific data in relevant literature about the conditions of preschool outcomes of refugee children. They seem to be the most neglected group by the authorities and educators. Being a cost-effective solution to such a huge problem, this application is quite feasible and accessible. Yes, there might be some language teaching apps on the market, yet none of them but this app will present cultural elements of the both cultures’ in a supportive, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere of a simulated neighborhood where the kids can feel secure and comfortable thanks to game like tasks they perform.

Solution transferability

This solution can be adapted to all other countries where there are refugee kids from different cultures. Also, this app can be modified for the primary school refugee kids easily by including additional features, such as text recognition technologies for feedback. The game design of the app can be modified into other content areas apart from language. It can be used as a supportive game like platform for kids at different ages.

Solution sustainability

This app will be distributed freely on a tablet computer by authorities. The governments of refugee communities will be in charge of the update and maintenance of the device and the app. This app will be a long term solution when mobile learning, which is a part of ubiquitous learning, is considered to be an indispensable in digital age. Also the teaching content of this app is  a language, which does not necessarily change over time and which does not require frequent updates. Therefore, this app is quite suitable for long term use.

Solution team work

We did a great job in team work. We would definitely like to work together in the future.

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