Difficult sounds in Russian language
Speech develops in several stages: by 2-3 months, children typically learn to coo, then by 4-6 months they learn to babble, and the first words come when the child is about one year old. By two, children know about 250-300 words and can build simple phrases. With Russian, this is also the time when they learn to correctly pronounce some vowels and consonants. Then, at 3-5 years old, children grow capable of pronouncing sibilant sounds, and at 5 years old and up – to pronounce sonorants, such as R and L. By six years, children are usually capable of pronouncing all the sounds of their native language, as well as know enough words to build full sentences.
Sometimes, however, pre-school children have trouble learning the pronunciation of certain sounds on their own – they mispronounce syllables, struggle with declinations, and can’t identify the sounds that make up a word. Moreover, they can sometimes lack the vocabulary to speak coherently or understand what they hear. These are all indications of speech underdevelopment, which, if not addressed, can lead to dysgraphia, dyslexia, or dyscalculia.
A common solution for such problems are speech therapy classes, where children learn to pronounce sounds and build sentences. In order for such classes to be effective, children need to incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily speech and spend a lot of time practicing on a daily basis.
Nowadays, most speech therapy exercises have taken the form of interactive apps that help kids to learn the correct pronunciation in a fun way. One such app was developed by Anastasia Pivovarova, who graduated from ITMO’s Bachelor’s program Computer Technologies in Design.
Her mobile app, Logodom AR, was developed in collaboration with professional speech therapists. Using AR, it helps children polish their pronunciation of the more difficult sounds in the Russian language.
According to Anastasia, the app can be used not only in speech therapy classes but also to practice at home.
“I wanted to create a simple, user-friendly, methodologically perfect, and affordable app that would make speech therapy fun for kids and their parents. AR-based speech therapy apps are practically non-existent on the Russian market, too, so this became an added advantage of the app,” shares Anastasia Pivovarova.
As of now, the app focuses on sibilant sounds, which tend to be some of the most challenging for pre-school kids.
All current content, including exercises, lessons, and sound recordings, was developed in collaboration with professional speech therapists from the educational center Kidslandia. Apart from exercises targeting single sounds, syllables, and words, the app offers phrases, tongue twisters, and poems. The latter help children learn new words while staying entertained during class.
The interactive element is added with special characters, Pump and Snake. This choice was inspired by the ideas of Maria Fomichyova, an expert speech therapist and lecturer at Moscow State Pedagogical University, who portrayed sounds as fairy tale characters to help children practice their pronunciation.
“AR technologies positively affect the development of higher cognitive functions and learning aptitude in children. Moreover, their application motivates children to study, engage with systems and logical thinking, as well as helps them grasp abstract concepts,” explains Anastasia.
She also shares that the hardest step in developing the app was integrating its methodological and design elements. In the end, the developer settled on simplified aesthetics fit for four- and five-year-olds. For example, only two buttons are present on the screen during an exercise and there are no sharp angles.
New sounds and functions
Speech therapists at Kidslandia are already using AR both in their classes at the center and as part of the students’ homework.
Next, Anastasia is planning to add new sounds to the app, as well as several sets of articulation exercises. The developer also aims to create iOS and desktop versions of the app, as well as transfer it from Boosty (a crowdfunding platform – Ed.) to RuStore.
A demo of Logodom AR. Credit: boosty.to
You can get the mobile app here (in Russian).