The benefits of early foreign language acquisition will continue to be felt throughout your life, into adulthood.
Digital language learning with the Moomins
When her own Finnish-speaking son picked up English numbers ”by accident” aged 2, Anu Guttorm immediately realised the power of game-based learning. This insight led to the Moomin Language School, a spin-off from Promentor Solution Oy the Finnish pioneer in digital language learning. But how did the engineer of media technology with a special interest in graphic design and creativity get into business in the first place?
“Nothing is as creative as developing a business. It’s in my DNA,” the second generation entrepreneur explains.
Moomin Language School’s USB is offering digital language immersion experiences for toddlers and primary school children. The digital learning sector is still in its infancy and evolving slowly, and the language learning applications currently available on the market are not comprehensive enough to provide a genuine grounding in a new language. This is what Moomin Language School intends to change.
“Moomin Language School is the only service of its kind in the world. The learning content is education-oriented and based on a four-year curriculum. Early learning and language immersion specialists have been closely involved in designing the curriculum and developing the educational game. We have made sure that the learning can be integrated as an effortless part of everyday routines in kindergartens and schools.”
Striking a balance between learning and entertainment can be a challenge as language acquisition relies on constant repetition, while children equate apps with fun. However, Anu Guttorm is delighted to report that, based on the positive reception and feedback, they have succeeded in pitching the service just right. And their efforts have not gone unrecognised either; in 2015, Moomin Language School was awarded by the Association of Finnish eLearning Centre as the Best Digital e-learning Solution of the Year.
Children benefit exceptionally from early language learning
For adults, learning a new language can be tough. That is why Anu is a passionate advocate of childhood language immersion.
“Language immersion is the best method for raising a bilingual child in a single-language family. The benefits of early foreign language acquisition will continue to be felt throughout your life, into adulthood. Language immersion is most effective in the pre-school years, as young children have an in-built interest and aptitude for languages. By school age, picking up the correct pronunciation already takes a bit more work.”
As an educational brand, Finland carries incredible clout around the world. Anu would like to see more being made of this and urges Finnish companies to seek out international markets for their education and training solutions. Product development will always be more challenging in a small market with relatively low levels of investment.
If in doubt, ask a Moomin
Let’s focus on the service name for a moment. Why the Moomins?
“Building a brand from scratch and generating awareness is really tough. The Moomins are already internationally well-known and they are a strong, highly-regarded brand. We also share their values – it is easy for all of us to relate to the Moomin family, with their joys, sorrows and adventures. They value nature and they support and respect each other.”
These are precisely the values the Moomin Language School, too, wants to promote.
Although the life of a business-owner can be tough at times, Anu is very clear about what drives her.
”We want to offer children the very best start in life. Foreign language learning develops children’s reading and writing skills and helps to improve their social skills, concentration levels and self-esteem. Overall, it has been shown to be associated with improved learning outcomes. I want to build something that will change the world.”