Genii Games’ Yoruba 101 App: Review

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Post by Contributor Lande Sanusi

Learning another language requires, amongst other things, very good resources. These resources are easier to come by for languages such as Spanish, French and Italian. For African languages, the pickings are quite slim. However, since I was opening an African cultural center and would be offering a Yoruba (West African) summer camp, I had to do the research and this is how I came across Genii Games’ Yorùbá 101 app.

I bought the Yoruba101 app for my children who are 2-11 years old, first through via iTunes and later in the Google Play store for $1.00. I would call my children heritage learners because they understand Yoruba since it is spoken to them at home but they do not speak it well yet.

From the beginning, there were many things that impressed me about the Yoruba101 app. As soon as I the app was launched on my phone, it flipped horizontally, thus maximizing the screen space. The illustrations and graphics are very clean, simple and moderately colorful. The app also has a “tutor” in traditional Yoruba attire to serve as a guide.

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From a previous course with the National African Language Resource Center, I learned that total immersion is the best way to teach an African language. That’s why I liked that the audio content on the app is only in Yoruba. The written content is in both Yoruba and English (for hints).

There are 10 topics on the app ranging from alphabets and numbers to sentences and games. In the alphabet section the tutor reads each Yoruba letter followed by its pronunciation. This is then used as a word and along with visual representation (I.e. A – Apple, B – Ball, etc). The numbers are done in a similar context with quantity to depict the count. The tutor is also shown mouthing of the pronunciation of the letter and number.

The “Syllables” and “Words” sections seemed to be confusing for the kids. Actually, I have to admit, it was confusing to me as well because they seem similar in appearance and function. I also feel that a new section for Yoruba “Tonal marks” or accents could be added. The Yoruba101 app has an in-app Lesson 2 purchase capability so the tonal marks may already be addressed in that lesson but I did not purchase the add-on.

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App screenshot from Broad Street NG

There are various sets of games in all topics – mostly matching in nature. The kids especially thought it was funny to see the Tutor’s face get very stern when they got something wrong!

I think this app is a great attempt at teaching the basics of the Yoruba language. By testing the app on my kids and the Yoruba summer camp, I noticed that it was successful at keeping them engaged and entertained. I believe users can maximize the benefits of the app by using it as a resource to aid the tutoring of a native Yoruba speaker.

Yoruba is a tonal language and can be challenging to learn. A great addition to the app would be for those tonal distinctions to be addressed. I also think that adding more animation and emphasis on the symbols for more experienced speakers would be beneficial.

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App screenshot from Broad Street NG

I would give this app 4.5 stars and would highly recommend Genii Games’ Yorùbá 101 app for parents who want to introduce their children to Yoruba, get them to speak it or even adults who want to learn the basics!

About the Writer

Lande Sanusi is a former Telecommunication Engineer turned Entrepreneur. Harnessing her love of her children and of her Nigerian heritage, Lande founded C.A.K.E. (Cultures of Africa for Kids Everywhere Inc). She is the Program Director of The CAKE Village Creative Director of SliceByCAKE Children’s Clothing and owner of Gallery 611 in Chicagoland. She can be found on Twitter (@Lande007) and Facebook.

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