Developing Pop2Talk with children!

Piloting and developing the game together with children:

our visit to Tollgate Primary School, London, in March 2019.

© Aalto University, University of Helsinki

Knowing English is increasingly important nowadays. In our globalized world, knowledge of foreign languages is essential to be able to communicate with people from different countries. Children usually begin studying foreign languages from text, when speaking would be the natural way to learn them. Kids could start learning English regardless of their reading abilities. Also, in many international schools, poor English speaking skills cause many communication problems, making it difficult to maintain standards.

This game is the result of a collaboration between Aalto University and University of Helsinki. It teaches children English based on speech, and being made for children, their point of view is essential. We wanted to test our game on native speakers to get feedback on both the concept itself as well as on its usability.

Tollgate Primary School

We traveled to London and spent three days in this amazing school, Tollgate Primary School. It is an international school having very high standards, and its teachers are all top professionals. Visiting this very school was a great honor for us. Mrs. Emma O’Connor, the headteacher, and Mrs. Iclal Lawrence welcomed us to the school and introduced us to its daily routines.

On day one, we began by getting to know each other through a coloring task. The children were given different characters to choose from. They had to pick the one they liked most, say why they chose it, and then, of course, they got to color it. The kids loved coloring the pictures!

© Aalto University, University of Helsinki

On the next day, it was time to get to know and play the game. Knowledge of user experience is very important for the development of the game. The kids were excited getting to play the game, and they gave us tangible ideas on how to improve it. They got to design their ideal game world as well. We told the children that they must teach the tablet to pronounce English correctly, and they loved the idea of being the machine’s real teachers. On the last day, we asked the children to suggest names for this game, and did they do that! They came up with a ton of great ideas, many of which adults would not come up with!

All in all, the visit to the Tollgate Primary School was a huge success, and we got great ideas for our game! The children and staff were truly helpful, and they welcomed us very warmly.

Are you a teacher interested in testing this at your school? Sign up here!