GLEN ABC: Matching games to teach the English alphabet: the association between uppercase letters, lowercase letters and a letter's sound. On clicking a card, a letter appears and is spoken by the computer. The challenge is to pick another (facedown) card that has the same letter (lowercase or uppercase) in the next click.
GLEN Write: This is an activity that reinforces the link between text and concepts, and informally and implicitly introduces the idea of an alphabet. A word is traced out letter by letter. Once the tracing is complete, an image corresponding to the word appears, and the word is sounded out.
GLEN Sounds: This is a collection of games reinforcing phonics. When children first access GLEN World content, we recommend directing them only to the most basic of these games, Sound Start. Sound Start targets consonants at the beginning of words, and employs images as well as text. This is meant to reinforce the concept of sounds mapping to letter patterns, prior to formal exposure to the alphabet. The remaining games, including Sound Match, Vowel Click and Odd Man Out, target vowel sounds, and do not employ pictures. These are aimed at children who have started reading, but they can click on words to hear how they are pronounced, so even kids who don't read yet could have a go. The words in these vowel games are often beyond the target vocabulary, since the goal here is to teach children to decode words (i.e., guess what they sound like) without necessarily knowing what they mean.
GLEN Rhymes: The GLEN Rhymes section contains illustrated rhymes, read aloud, with the text highlighted in sync. The rhymes are written by authors on the team and follow the spirit of traditional nursery rhymes: aimed at beginning readers, they are short (typically a page) and build a narrative with words that rhyme. The rhymes are read with inflections that match the mood and are illustrated by professional artists. There is also a matching game to reinforce the learning of words that rhyme.
GLEN Match: This memory game is the core tool for initial vocabulary exposure. By clicking on a card, an image of the item appears along with the written word, and the word is spoken by the computer. The memory game provides association between images and sounds, and the associated exercises reinforce these associations. Since each image also has text below it, the game also provides implicit exposure to the concept that objects can be represented by text (before formal knowledge of alphabet and phonetics).
Describe It: The goal is to get children to describe scenes with the words they are learning. Images are provided that learners are directed to match to one of two words (e.g., a noun, a verb) in a series that leads to the creation of simple sentences. The words get transformed when selected (e.g., "boy" becomes "The boy" and "walk" becomes "is walking"). This is done without explanation, with the idea that, with repetition, children will start seeing patterns. Children do not need to know how to read. They can click on any word to hear its sound, and match the sound to the image. The goal is to help children implicitly associate text with concepts before before formal knowledge of alphabet and phonetics. The images used are created by us (in cartoon format) as well as pulled from the Internet (public domain photos).
GLEN Books: Illustrated audiobooks, with text being highlighted as the book is read. This is meant to emulate a parent or teacher reading aloud from a book that may be too advanced for a kid to read alone. It is not expected that children be able to decode the text. The content is split into two categories: originals and classics. Originals are stories written by authors on the team that start at a basic level, with one or two sentences per picture. The classics category has simplified versions of fables by Aesop (and from a few other sources). The endings are often modified slightly in order to be more constructive than in the classical version (e.g., in The Hare and the Tortoise, the hare and tortoise end up as friends after the hare learns his lesson). All the audiobooks are illustrated by a number of accomplished artists and narrated vividly.
Entertainment Center: This contains animated vignettes showing children interacting. We are probably not going to produce too many of these in the future, since they are expensive. We also have a song (Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) in there. We plan to add in more rhymes and songs, either with elementary animations or videos.
GLEN Count: Threegames -- Count Up, Match 123 and Count It! -- to teach the numbers 1-9, in sequence. Count Up simultaneously marries the idea of a number to a collection of objects and teaches the sequencing of numbers. Match 123 is the equivalent of GLEN Match for words: it establishes an association between a collection of objects and the number of objects in the collection. The Count It! game takes the challenge a step further by testing the name of the collection of objects (or animals) in addition to the number.
Insights from pilots in the US
We have conducted some limited pilots of this content in the US for pre-kindergarten children in institutions where there is a large proportion of English Language Learners coming from families where parents are not proficient in English.
So far, the children have had free choice in how they engage with our content (with a limit of about 10-15 minutes per day). This has mixed results. From informal observations, we see that children are get engaged in GLEN Match. They are also very engaged in GLEN Books, even though most of them do not read yet. They quickly settle on favorite stories, which they play over and over again. Describe It appears to be less attractive to them, but we believe it is important that children play this game in order to start learning how to use words to describe scenes.
A key learning from our pilots so far is that we need to provide more detailed guidelines to facilitators as to how to guide the children in engaging with the content. Specifically, it is important for facilitators to ensure that the children do spend time with content other than their favorite games and stories. We are now developing a more detailed set of guidelines for teachers and facilitators.