bsmall-colour-logo-300x300Publishing Perspectives has a brief piece on UK publisher b small publishing (which, like danah boyd, eschews capital letters in its name), which is producing multimedia parallel-text bilingual e-books to help young students learn foreign languages.

The 32-page books feature a 16-page story divided into English and the language being taught (so far, French or Spanish), with read-aloud buttons to hear a native speaker read the story aloud in either language. The books are available as appbooks on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

[b small Managing Director Catherine] Bruzzone said, “Here at b small we’ve always sought a bright, fun, colorful and personal approach to supporting parents who want to bring foreign languages into their homes. These versions, with their bright illustrations, exciting stories and in-built bilingual audio, are the perfect package. I’m especially excited by what this could mean for other languages close to our hearts for which UK print quantities are often quite low, such as German, Italian, or even Chinese. These languages could easily be made available in this digital format with a native speaker.”

I wish they’d had something like this around when I was learning high school French. It seems like an excellent and eminently sensible use of multimedia technology for learning, and the digital nature of it means that it can easily be sold worldwide from just the one app store.


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