Translating into a 3D Language

The use of technology has become more and more common when trying to bring new, young students into classrooms, especially when it comes to learning a second language. It’s hard enough to get young people to concentrate in a classroom, and, let’s be honest, a foreign language course is a tedious endeavor for most people. So, try to imagine what it’s like for someone who has any sort of disability, such as hearing loss for example.

In today’s world, apps are used in classrooms to facilitate learning. They are a great tool to have at hand whenever students start to lose interest in the subject being taught. An additional problem can arise when dealing with children’s education, since, nowadays, they’re basically born with an iPad in their hands and by the time they’re a year old, they already know how to use a cellphone better than they know how to speak or walk!

An app can integrate sound, images and text in order to create a well-rounded experience when it comes to learning a language. Still, one of the most popular ways to teach children is through songs; so, an app seems to be the best tool out there to accomplish the task of teaching languages to children. Nursery rhymes are the most popular type of song when it comes to early childhood education. They are well-known, fun, and can be taught anywhere at any time. Now, as mentioned before, a child with a disability such as hearing loss might have a more difficult time learning these rhymes for a specific reason: there are not that many rhymes available in American Sign Language (ASL). When it comes to adapting and translating nursery rhymes into ASL, we come across a specific difficulty: sound-based rhymes simply do not translate well into visual language. Sign language’s grammar and syntax are very different from grammar and syntax in English.

Luckily, for those who live with this kind of disability, or have children or know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, there are new ways of learning nursery rhymes thanks to technology. There’s an option by Motion Light Lab, or ML2, a lab housed under the Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning. They are dedicated to developing visual narratives through technology, helping those with hearing loss learn in a new and exciting way!

The idea is basically to translate nursery rhymes into a 3D format, using an Avatar (much like the technology used in films such as “The Planet of the Apes”), where, thanks to motion-capturing systems and green screens, a singing cartoon can be developed. This way, children with hearing loss can learn nursery rhymes just like their hearing counterparts. Overall, narratives have a tremendously positive impact on children when they are learning a language, and now, thanks to entities such ML2; they are available to even more people. More on this by visiting