Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers App Poster Image
Bubble popping aims too young, makes contested claims.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn hand-eye coordination and visual discrimination as they pop bubbles. The app claims to teach many of the important sounds of four languages, but given what current research suggests on how kids learn language, it's unlikely that spending a few minutes each day listening to a few language sounds from a digital source will have a substantial effect on kids' capacity to learn languages later in life. With Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers, kids will have fun popping bubbles, but it's not completely clear what else -- if anything -- they might learn.

Ease of Play

Navigation is simple, as is gameplay. Game instructions, however, are written and never read out loud.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mochu Pop - Language Immersion for Babies and Toddlers aims to expose young kids to important sounds from four languages: English, French, Spanish, and Italian (for example, English vowel sounds, or the Spanish rolled r's). Their claim is that if babies hear these sounds when they're young, they can learn any language more easily later in life. Parents should be aware that this claim is up for debate, and current research suggests that babies do not actually learn language sounds from digital sources. Furthermore, this app is marketed toward babies and toddlers, despite children's health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, that strongly suggest that kids under 2 focus on interacting with their environment and with people.

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What's it about?

At the start of MOCHU POP - LANGUAGE IMMERSION FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS, you choose one of four languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian). In each round kids see the shape and color of one or more target bubbles that kids must tap the screen to pop. When they do, kids hear some building-block sounds from the chosen language. Nothing happens if they pop bubbles that are not targets. Kids rack up points for popping the correct bubbles and for catching the occasional bonus bubble. Parents who create an account can see reports detailing the sounds kids have heard and how many points they've earned.

Is it any good?

Despite lofty goals, the verdict is still out on any real benefits of exposing babies to multiple languages via screens, and screen time for babies still isn't recommended. The developers make assertions that, on the surface, seem to be legit and amazing, but there also are concerns. First, there is good reason to be wary of digital products that claim to teach babies through screens because research continues to suggest that they learn best from interaction with people and with their surrounding environment. Second, the idea that casual exposure to some sounds in a few languages can help kids learn languages later in life is up for debate; in fact, some research suggests that babies don't learn language sounds (what this app aims to teach) from digital sources. Finally, some elements don't quite make sense in an app for young kids. For example, there are written instructions that are not narrated; there's no follow-up on the instructions to tap only certain balloons; and kids rack up points in a way that may make parents feel good but is likely to be meaningless for young kids. As it stands, popping bubbles sure is fun for kids, but the appeal may not last long.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about better ways to interact with babies and toddlers -- for example, read and talk to them, and provide simple objects for them to explore.

  • Expose kids to different languages and cultures. For example, read a simple board book in Spanish to learn a few new words, or spend time with multilingual people so your baby hears language through interaction.

  • Engage in lots of back-and-forth conversation with kids. Even young babies "converse" when you say something: They babble, you respond, and so on.

App details

For kids who love learning languages

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