How to better implement ICT activities for Language development

Teaching computer to preschoolers

By Michael Hilkemeijer

In a digital society, language acquisition has changed quite considerably. Young children are walking into early learning environments with a taste of ICT in their lives as a result of early exposure to a wide range of different forms of communication in their home environment.


As an inside look into our technology in early childhood education resources, this article will explore ways in which young children can experience ICT as a means of communication and as a creative tool. It will help you to mine these rich digital resources in your educational setting in order to support young children’s literacy and language development in early childhood education.




What is Communication and Language development in early childhood education?

Communication and language development in early childhood education involves giving young children the opportunity to experience a rich language environment in order to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and speaking and listening in a range of situations.


What is communication development in early childhood education?

Communication is conceptually quite sophisticated as it involves imparting or exchanging information by speaking, writing or using some other form of medium; it involves a message containing information or news; or a message that can be mass-produced.

Young children are immersed in cultural practices of communication. Communication development in early childhood is about learning and developing to communicate and interact in many different ways.



The Benefits of Language Development in Early Childhood

In the early years of a child’s life, language development plays a significant role in laying the foundations for all social interactions. The development of language is closely associated with and supports cognitive and brain development ( Therefore, language development in early childhood is of great importance in the early years of education.


According to language and literacy development in the first eight years are the most significant. The steps that it encourages you to take should be followed to ensure that your child or children in your care develop the language and communication skills they need. 


Research indicates that lack of language development in children can lead to the following:

  • Academic difficulties;
  • Learning disabilities;
  • Shyness and social difficulties;
  • Anxiety disorder and;
  • Behavioural problems and ADHD.

The importance of language development in early childhood is also highlighted in studies that state it can help young children to critically think about the world around them, understand various situations, communicate basic needs, thoughts and feelings along with solving problems and establishing strong relationships.


In the early years of a child’s life, language development plays a significant role in laying the foundations for all social interactions. The development of language is closely associated with and supports cognitive and brain development (


Therefore, language development in early childhood is of great importance in the early years of education. According to language and literacy development in the first eight years are the most significant. The steps that it encourages you to take should be followed to ensure that your child or children in your care develop the language and communication skills they need.


Research indicates that lack of language development in children can lead to the following:

  • Academic difficulties;
  • Learning disabilities;
  • Shyness and social difficulties;
  • Anxiety disorder and;
  • Behavioural problems and ADHD.



The following will show you how to promote language development in children when integrating technology in early childhood education today.






Technology and Language Development

Meaningful technology integration in early childhood education involves developing purposeful language preschool activities. In this section, I will discuss the role of technology in language development and will examine the impact of technology in language development in early childhood learning activities.


How does Technology play a role in Literacy Development?

Emergent literacy is one area of learning that the use of ICT can greatly enhance. In a digital society, the development of digital technologies has changed the nature of print-based literacy. This means that ICT can be integrated into teaching and learning to transform literacy development in early childhood education.


Digital play opportunities can strengthen everyday literacy teaching and learning in early childhood classrooms by promoting engagement with ideas in new and dynamic ways. However, for this to occur you as the early childhood teacher need to be aware of the potential of such environments as contexts for play.


How does Technology help with Language Development?

Technology and language learning in early childhood education is not the future, but the present in education. This is because communication and language are one of the prime areas of learning and development. The use of new digital technology in early childhood education has become the perfect complement to mastering or gaining a command of a language. 


The vast range of digital resources has brought with it the benefits of technology in education. However, as an educator, it is important that you mine these ICT tools for early childhood education to support children’s language and literacy development, and to ensure that all children have access to digital as well as paper texts. 


Did you notice I switched to ICT?

That is because ‘communication technology’ is the CT in ICT. It is “an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on…” (Rouse, 2016, as cited in Savage and Barnett, 2017, p. 59). Thus, enabling experiences of a rich language environment across a range of situations. 


As mentioned, there is a plethora of ICT tools for early childhood education, so what are the benefits of technology in education in relation to the following areas? 

  • Language acquisition (speaking and listening);
  • Reading development;
  • Mark-making development.


Language acquisition

  • Taped stories and headphones – the opportunity for children to listen in a quiet, intimate way. It is important that young children can play and explore digital technology in early childhood education as it gives them a sense of empowerment. By providing with multilink headphones you are enabling them to work together.
  • Digital recorders, microphones, talking photo albums – as above but more personalised. Also, they allow for careful listening without visual cues. Such devices enable them to practice giving instructions, expressing their ideas and feelings, and giving them the opportunity to listen back and critique their own language. In addition to this, when they record it allows them to erase and re-record if they feel dissatisfied with their first attempt.
  • Walkie-talkies, two-way radios, mobile phones – children practice making themselves understood when not face to face. This encourages children to communicate with someone who they can’t see which is a skill many young children find challenging.
  • Recordable binoculars – children can use descriptive language.
  • Talking clipboard – combine mark-making and communication.
  • Interactive Whiteboard – it brings topics into the setting which would only otherwise be accessible in book form. Young children are encouraged to use a range of communicative language skills and vocabulary, stimulating debate and verbal negotiation among the children.
  • Videos – children can discuss and anticipate the action.
  • Slideshows – the children can discuss/narrate the slideshow.
  • PC/tablet computers and games – the children’s learning is supported by visual clues. Most PCs also support voice recognition is fantastic for those with visual impairment.


As young children continue to be exposed to digital devices such as handheld devices, laptops, and computers they are also exposed to a wide variety of different forms of communication in their home environment. Such digital technology enables them to engage with spoken language(s), as well as with a range of visual texts. 


As an early childhood educator, you must mine these rich digital resources to support language and literacy development and ensure that all children have access to digital as well as paper texts. Your role as the educator should be to encourage children’s access to a range of experiences beyond the early years setting, through the medium of digital technology (McLean, 2013 as cited in Kaye, 2017). 


There are many affordances that digital technology can provide for language development. Nemeth (2015, p. 117) states that it can offer early childhood educators and families ways to improve learning experiences for dual language learners (DLL):

  • Internet;
  • Flexibility;
  • Supporting different languages by providing instant translations;
  • Tracking abilities so that the learning can progress;
  • Here and now responsiveness;
  • Cultural responsiveness and flexibility;
  • Organisation and searchability;
  • Portability;
  • Self-paced learning.


Digital technology and language development in early childhood education have also proven in past studies that with right scaffold and support, quality software can allow children to engage in self-exploration and tailor the software to their individual needs.


Here is a case study Brooker and Siraj-Blatchford (2002, p. 269 as cited in UNESCO, 2010) of this in action:

“The use of the computer by the bilingual children that we observed was especially valuable. It was frequently found that accessible language forms were being exemplified and supported through visual cues and animations, and that these were frequently repeated. Instances of language learning, and linguistic practice, in response to the software, were regularly recorded. The computer often provided a shared focus and experience for children, who didn’t share the same spoken language, and this undoubtedly contributed toward the development of the very positive, collaborative, and language enriched multicultural learning environment that we observed.”


The melding of both digital technology and language development in early childhood education is a means of bringing children’s home culture and experience into your early childhood learning environment.


Reading Development

  • Taped stories and headphones – there is an opportunity for children to understand how texts work. They also learn about page turning as well as building up anticipation of the storyline.
  • IWB/slideshows – these introduce large print and different fonts which children can begin to read together.
  • Visualiser – these technologies share any text with a group of children.
  • PC/tablet computers – children’s learning is supported by visual clues.
  • Photocopier – supports reading opportunities.


Mark-making development

  • IWB – it gives the children satisfaction of producing an image or caption.
  • Keyboards – helps to distinguish between lower- and upper-case letters.
  • PC/tablet computers – the children can produce satisfying products which can be printed off.
  • Bee bots – children can use these to write for a purpose.
  • Video and camera stimuli – as above.
  • Emails – children can communicate and express themselves in print.
  • Printer – children can produce a permanent record of a piece of work.
  • Word processing software (e.g. 2Write, Clicker 6, MS Word) – provides a structure for child-initiated composition.



Language literacy in early childhood

How does Technology support Cognitive Development?

Through the use of technology cognitive development can be achieved with the processes such as collaboration. The explosion of the extent to which ICT resources are rapidly becoming a part our everyday lives clearly adds to cognitive demand. ICT tools for early childhood education such as computers, recordings, audio, cameras, photos, and videos have several advantages that can aid in children’s cognitive development. For example, adventure games have been shown to improve attention, focus, and reaction time.

What is your role as a teacher in technology-enhanced language learning?

The integration of digital technology in early childhood education is an instructional choice that should involve the planning, instruction, assessment and facilitation of any language learning activities. The instruction that is delivered should always be given by you as the educator rather than solely delivered via a computer program.


  • Research does not support the isolated use of technology for acquiring a language.
  • Interaction with a language educator is critical to building spontaneous interpersonal skills needed for real-world communication.
  • Intercultural competence is best acquired through human interactions and meaningful experiences facilitated through a language educator.
  • Educators use content knowledge, research-informed teaching strategies, and effective technology applications to support language learning.





What is the role of digital technology in language development?

Digital technology can and should always be used to enhance language development but it should never just replace other traditional methods. Through the purposeful use of digital technology:

  • Students read, listen to, and view authentic, engaging, and timely materials from the target culture.
  • Students practice interpersonal skills as they interact via video, audio, or text in real-time with other speakers of the target language.
  • Students collaborate on presentational tasks with their peers or teacher, anytime, anywhere.
  • Students work at their own pace as they access online content and/or utilize computer adaptive programs managed by their teacher.
  • Students practice discrete skills with engaging online games and applications.
  • Students benefit from differentiated instruction where multiple applications can be used to assess students, assign varied tasks, track data, give real-time feedback, and manage classrooms and lessons.



Language development in early childhood

Key Principles in DATEC

In the 21st century in a society that is continuing to develop new and emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), literacy and language development in early childhood education has evolved to include the new literacies that is brought on by the new technologies.


Today, the power of ICT to support language development in children means that it can be achieved with the use of audio, rich media and even with the support of all types of quizzes ( These are just some technologies that have added a whole new dimension to the reading experiences for children.


When you choose to use technology in language development activities, you should first adhere to the key principles of technology in early childhood education. This applies to whether you want to use technology in preschool or kindergarten in the early years. They include:

  • Ensure that they have an educational purpose.
  • Encourage collaboration.
  • Integrate with other aspects of the curriculum (ICT is not to be used in isolation).
  • Ensure that the children is in control (to develop ICT capability alongside literacy and language development in early childhood education).
  • Choose applications that are transparent.
  • Avoid applications containing violence or stereotyping.
  • Be aware of health and safety issues.
  • Ensure the educational involvement of parents.


Technology and language development




How to Promote Language-rich environments with preschool Tech today?

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Language development is one of the most important aspects of education in the early years as it allows children to communicate with people in their lives. 

There is a wealth of information out there from research that has indicated the importance of good early language skills without which young children would be at risk of social, emotional, educational and economic disadvantages. 

Studies have indicated that those children with advanced reading capabilities are usually brought up in an environment that has exposed them to a significantly larger vocabulary. 

We also know that the key factors in language development in early childhood education include:

  • That children learn when adults speak to them,
  • Language is more than just word,
  • Language gives children space to talk,
  • Provide many opportunities for imaginative play;
  • Read (and tell stories) aloud.


Children need a rich language environment to learn their first and subsequent languages. 

So, the challenge remains for many early childhood teachers to ensure that all children have access to a stimulating and diverse range of verbal expression and so that they begin to develop a wide variety of vocabulary.




A Technology-rich and language-rich environment

Digital technology in early childhood education can play an important role in helping the teacher, the child, the family, and the early childhood learning environment be ready for the year to start in a welcoming way. 

The key when integrating technology in the preschool classroom is to ensure that it is used as a two-way communication because passive listening is not as powerful as experiences. 

There are numerous opportunities for children to communicate their ideas and feelings. For example, repeating vocabulary, stories, songs, and rhymes using adult-modelled language etc. 


The 'CT' in ICT in early childhood education means that you have opportunities to provide an environment that encompasses devices such as mobile phones, computers with access to email and the Internet as well as software as simple as word processors that has literacy and language development capabilities. 


Today, many young children have access to sound, graphics, animation, and video to excite them and motivate their reading and language development. 

One such way that digital play in the early years can achieve this is with non-verbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, and body positioning. These are also the key to understanding the ‘message’ being communicated. 

Through the use of digital storybooks animations containing gestures can have a positive impact on the understanding of the story itself. 

Another way that you can use digital technology to enable a language-rich environment is to ensure that it has place in imaginative play areas. 

Play is such a language-rich experience and videos can be played as a backdrop, providing scenery and stimulating the children’s play by setting the scene/action. 

Communication technology in preschool activities can encourage young children who may be reluctant to speak to use their voices in playful ways.


Here are some strategies to promote language development in preschoolers (2015, p.41).

  • Have young children verbally identify pictures on a computer screen.
  • Let young children makeup sentences about pictures they see on technological equipment.
  • After showing a story with technology, let the children tell a story that happened to them.
  • Give young children the opportunity to orally verbalise sounds they hear from the computer.
  • Provide young children with time to retell a story after they view it from a software program.
  • Have children respond to a story by telling about the character they see on the monitor.
  • Ask young children questions after they complete a software program to check comprehension.
  • Let young children tell the details of a story in sequence after viewing a software program.
  • Provide opportunities for young children to interact with each other while participating in technology activities.



What are some technology solutions for creating a language-rich environment?

According to Nemeth (2015) there are several solutions that you can use as an early childhood teacher to ensure that families and children are able to communicate effectively with you.


  • Reach out to families before school starts and find out more about the home language, culture, interests and assets that the children will bring to your early learning environment.
  • Begin with a home language survey that has been translated into the family's native language.
  • Find out which mode of communication families prefer. Some teachers prefer text messages while others use email to stay in touch.
  • Use technology resources such as the My Child website or to make it easier to have linguistically and culturally appropriate music, books, materials, and displays ready for the child’s first day.
  • If you have contacted the families before school has started, you may be able to recommend language learning apps such as the Pocoyo learning activities from the HITN Early Learning Collaborative or the Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Word Builder app that families can use.


Key markers of a language-rich environment with technology

  • Responsiveness: Does the caregiver or teacher respond when the child addresses [them]
  • Positive emotion: Do [they] respond with a smile and a positive disposition
  • Does the teacher have the attention of the children. [Are they] talking about things the children are interested in?
  • Expansions: Is the teacher asking questions and building on the children’s talk? Sustained shared thinking can a play a role in this and it can involve asking open-ended and positive questions .
  • Reading: Is the room filled with written material and books? Does the teacher read to the children?



To summarise, the use of digital technology in early childhood education can enable a language-rich environment because of the many communication technologies that are available, and which continue to emerge.


Each one brings with it the opportunity to enable young children to communicate two ways and to engage with spoken language (s). This encourages children to be active participants and to gain from their experiences. 

Additionally, the use of communication technology in preschool activities also provides opportunities for children to extend their vocabulary and thus ensures that these children who do have access to them will have better reading capabilities as they are exposed to a larger vocabulary such as computer terminology.


Any language-rich environment should be like the following…

  • It sounds like conversation and play and singing and reading and interacting and true listening.
  • It looks like a space where learners and educators are interacting in all these activities in a positive, nurturing way.
  • It feels like a place where children grow in confidence as their early adventures with speech are encouraged, respected and supported.










Strategies for language development in early childhood

Strategies and Software for Language Development


Software for Language and Literacy Development in early childhood

One of the best and most affordable software you can use for language development in early childhood is the word processor. Why? It makes explicit links between related knowledge, skills, and understanding. 

Word processing supports language and literacy development at all levels of learning as a wide range of sentence-level literacy activities can be facilitated.

Many also come with text-to-speech capabilities and 'talking' word processors enable increased interaction between a child and a word processor does indeed carry some of the characteristics of conversation, in which the child responds to what is being said.


Open-ended creative software such as drawing and painting programs like MS Paint can generate a lot of discussions as they create images. You can upload images and they can add captions as well.


Teaching Strategies for Literacy and Language Development in Early Childhood

Strategies used for language and literacy development in early childhood and ICT capability are the same:

  • Use computers for one-to-one work between the adult and the child or for paired collaborative work. This is good for small group discussions.
  • Whole-class teaching - you can demonstrate literacy and ICT skills easily using this method with the help of a digital projector.
  • Place ICT areas on the edge of the carpeted or group areas.
  • When working one-on-one, introduce basic ICT skills of computer use well as providing contexts for a wider discussion. Doing this will provide you with a baseline assessment of their ICT capabilities in determining opportune moments for intervention.
  • Ask a child to type out on a word processor a sentence from one of their favourite stories.
  • Check to see if they are actually learning the ideas and skills you have planned.
  • As children create things on the screen, their talk will be about what is going on and what they are trying to achieve. As the activity is more creative, the language will be more creative too. This will provide you with a good insight into the children’s linguistic abilities and you will be able to help develop their vocabulary and their speaking and listening skills.
  • When you work alongside the children on a computer it provides you with a great opportunity to model the effective use of software and management of programs. Most importantly, you will model the appropriate behaviour when working collaboratively.




strategies for language development in early childhood

9 Ways to Promote Communication and Language Development with Technology in Preschool today

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Communication and language is one of the prime areas of learning for learning and development in curriculums such as the EYLF and EYFS. It is more than just talking. It means all the different ways a child understands and communicates, only part of which are spoken words. 

Digital play in the early years learning environment can play a big role in promoting communication and language development in preschoolers. 


It is because when we talk about the right type of technology for this to occur we are discussing ICT. At this point we are focusing on the CT which is ‘communication technology’ and represents communication devices or applications such mobile phones, desktop computers and laptops, tablet PCs, network hardware and software, and even video conferencing. 

The use of such ICT in early childhood education ensures that there will be a rich language environment across a range of situations. It is important that young children are provided with these conditions as studies have indicated that those that are more advanced in their reading capabilities are usually brought up in an environment that has exposed them to a significantly larger vocabulary.


Here are several strategies for language development in early childhood education with ICT: 

  • Taped stories/headphones – children can listen or follow stories in a book. You can also ask the children to follow the story by looking at the book while listening to the words.
  • Digital recorders/microphones/talking photo albums – as an adult, you can tell a story. Or the children can tell the story themselves. Perhaps recounting a visit or outing. This technology can also be used allow children to follow instructions.
  • Walkie-talkies/mobile phones – use these to talk at a distance and to give instructions.
  • Recordable binoculars – record speech while exploring.
  • Talking clipboard – record voice whilst mark-making. Or listening to instructions left by adult/s.
  • IWB – images can be used for discussion (fiction or non-fiction), that provide opportunities to recount and engage in verbal interactions. It would be possible to access a wide variety of visual and written texts perhaps with simple captions. An idea would be to use different effects to order and reveal information systematically.
  • Videos – children can follow storylines or listen to a dialogue and at times discuss the plot.
  • Slideshows – provide a series of images.
  • Desktop computers/tablet computers – listen to stories and/or follow instructions. Additionally, it may involve opening programs, navigating around the screens, and reading instructions.




Connecting Technology and Language Development with Ease

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Language development in early childhood education supports many other key aspects of development like cognitive, social and literacy development. It typically begins with sounds and gestures followed by words and sentences. 

  • Supporting language development in children gives them the ability to:
  • Express and understand feelings.
  • Think and learn.
  • Solve problems.
  • Develop and maintain relationships.


This is usually encouraged by parents talking and responding to their children’s attempts to communicate and reading to their children. 




Technology and language development



Language Development and the Early Year Curriculum

Communication and language is one of the prime areas for learning and development in the EYLF and EYFS. The Early Years Learning Framework has specific emphasis on play-based learning in early childhood education and recognises the importance of communication and language development.


The Early Years Foundation Stage, it recognises that “communication and language development involve giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves, and to speak and listen in a range of situations.”


EYLF learning outcome 1- Children:

Use their home language to construct meaning.

Develop strong foundations in both the culture and language/s of their family and of the broader community without compromising their cultural identities.



Actively support the maintenance of home language and culture.


EYLF learning outcome 2 – Practitioners:

Model language that children can use to express ideas, negotiate roles and collaborate to achieve goals.


EYLF learning outcome 4 – Practitioners:

  • Encourage children to use language to describe and explain their ideas.
  • Join in children’s play and model reasoning, predicting and reflecting processes and language.
  • Understand that competence is not tied to any particular language, dialect or culture.


Communication, language and literacy develop is most emphasised in the EYLF outcome 5 “Children are effective communicators”.


EYLF learning outcome 5 – Children:

  • Engage in enjoyable interactions using verbal and non-verbal language.
  • Use language and representations from play, music and art to share and project meaning.
  • Are independent communicators who initiate Standard Australian English and home language conversations and demonstrate the ability to meet the listeners’ needs.
  • Exchange ideas, feelings and understandings using language and representations in play.
  • Use language to communicate thinking about quantities to describe attributes of objects and collections, and to explain mathematical ideas.



What are Effective Communication Strategies in Preschool?

Developing young children to be effective communicators is part of the Early Years Learning Framework. 

Effective communication involves listening, understanding, and responding to people. It involves paying attention so that you can think about what’s being said and respond in a way that will encourage the person to keep talking. 

Signals can come from:

  • Following the direction of another’s gaze, facial expression, body language, gestures, and voice tone
  • The context and culture, what’s happening in the environment at the time, what has just happened and what is going to happen next
  • The knowledge we have about a person’s interests and preferences and prior behaviour
  • Our recall of similar past experiences
  • Interpretations dependent on our own emotional states
  • Sounds, words, grammatical formation of sentences and inferences
  • Symbols, signs and written language.


It is, therefore, important to model effective communication strategies in early childhood education to support children to initiate interactions and to join digital play-based learning and social experiences. The fifth component of learning in the Communication Outcome states that “children use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking”.


Strategies for supporting communication skills with ICT

It is important for ICT to be used as a tool for two-way communication because passive listening is not as powerful as experiences where children are encouraged to be active participants.


Communication is supported by the use of ICT as devices such as multi-link headphones, digital cameras, webcams, walkie-talkies, telephones, and mobile phones all encourage the development of speaking and listening skills.


ICT also provides numerous opportunities for children to communicate their ideas and feelings: repeating vocabulary, stories, songs, and rhymes using adult-modeled language


For example, the computer is designed to communicate with the user with pictures, sounds, text symbols, and the user can simply communicate by simply moving a mouse.


When you facilitate digital role-play with ICT it can serve to promote and enable meaningful communication and give children the opportunity to use and develop their mathematical knowledge, skills, and understanding in a practical, meaningful, and purpose-driven context.

Communication in science is very important and ICT offers a range of alternatives from using word processors, either personally or through the help of a scribe, to creating graphs, using paint tools


Additionally, emails can also be used to express feelings and ideas in print. Microphones and recording devices can be used to enable them to practice giving instructions. The recording also allows them to erase and re-record if they feel dissatisfied with their first attempt.


You could also consider using Skype or podcasts if children are familiar with them and don’t forget the use of the IWB to allow children to engage in learning with or without adults.


Assessing Children as Effective Communicators

The assessment of young children’s knowledge, skills and capabilities is a central part of early childhood education. As an early childhood teacher, you can use a wide range of reliable and accessible assessment tools.


There are seven principles for assessing children as effective communicators. The “assessment of children’s communicative competence is an integral part of early years practice” (VCAAA, 2018). Therefore, you are required to have an “understanding of how communication development progresses, together with reliable and accessible assessment tools” (VCAAA, 2018, p.8).


According to the literature (Verdon et al., 2018 as cited in VCAAA, 2018, p. 9), these principles include the following:

  1. Effective assessment of communication requires a clearly defined purpose.
  2. Communication is multifaceted and each element may require specific assessment.
  3. Communication assessment may include both formal methods (for example, standardised tests) and informal methods (for example, observation tests, parent and teacher checklists).
  4. Assessment of communication considers the multiple languages and communication systems that a child may use, to gain a holistic understanding of communicative competence.
  5. Assessment of communication includes children’s own reports, evidence from families and multiple sources of information in a range of settings.
  6. Assessment of communication considers a child’s functional use of language and participation in daily life as a communicator.
  7. Assessment of communication is an opportunity for multidisciplinary collaboration.


It is by applying these elements to the assessment of communication that you will be able to ensure that there is a holistic and effective approach. Each of these principles also gives you the opportunity for critical reflection on service practice and philosophy.





Great ICT tools for Literacy and Language Development

Many ICT tools in education can be used from early childhood to secondary education. The reason why is that many of them are what are called generic ICT tools used in classroom teaching. This brings great value to you as a teacher, particularly in primary education, as your goal should be to enable children to become so focused on using ICT as tool to achieve other outcomes, that they hardly notice they are using the technology itself. Making technology transparent is what developing student ICT capability is all about.

So the list that follows encompasses ICT tools used in classroom teaching that meet this criterion – they are content-free, generic, readily available in all sectors of education, but importantly they significantly allow students to have full control over the technology (hardware and software), they can develop their higher order thinking skills as it also allows for a high level of decision making on behalf of the children, and finally, they do challenge students intellectually.

Some ICT tools in education do not do this. For example, what is known as Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) or subject specific software don’t do this. They are fantastic for subjects such as literacy and numeracy and if this is your objective then it’s fine. However, technology controls everything. Not the student. Most even enable teachers to develop ICT capability.

Here is my list of ICT tools used in classroom teaching. I will begin from the foundation and discuss digital technology in early childhood education.


Software programs

Ideal programs for young children should be that adults also use. I am not talking about sophisticated programs. More to do with everyday software programs like word processors and desktop publishers, drawing and painting programs even spreadsheets.

You might ask, what about language literacy and early childhood education? Word processors contribute considerably to the writing process. You can help children to plan and draft ideas, editing, proofreading, and presenting. Using word processors is, therefore, closely associated with language and literacy work at all levels.


Digital cameras

As an early childhood teacher, you too can use digital cameras to display on walls special moments in children’s learning. However, for young children, it is possible to imagine how they can enhance and improve the quality of their role play.



Programmable toys enable children full control over technology as they can control what and where they go. Beebots is just one example many ECEC use.


Computers and the Internet

An obvious choice as a form of digital technology in early childhood education. Installing the right software on the computer will go a long way. The Internet is great for looking up information on a child’s interest and along the way, you can educate them on the best practices to do so.


Now for ICT in the primary classroom and things are very similar for a very important reason. For progression and continuity in ICT capability is to occur then both the teaching practices and ICT tools used in classroom teaching must be similar otherwise children will experience a very disconnected learning path. It is important to only use more sophisticated software if the curriculum requires it. You will not be enabling progression in ICT capability otherwise.

There are many benefits of using ICT in the primary classroom and the one that resonates the most is that it enables you to develop student ICT capability in meaningful contexts.

So in addition to those discussed for early childhood, we have the following ICT tools used in classroom teaching.


Graphing programs

Graphical representations of data are everywhere. Young children are constantly exposed to information in this manner. If they are to interpret this in a meaningful way then they need to develop appropriate skills, knowledge, and understanding. You need to select the appropriate opportunities in which they can facilitate, enhance and extend children’s learning.


Databases and Spreadsheets

Both have relevance and applications across the primary curriculum and offer you excellent chances to develop student ICT capability when you model their appropriate use of ICT and demonstrate or intervene to assist a child to identify particular data. You have the opportunity to make explicit links between children’s previous experiences and new learning across a range of contexts.


Multimedia presentation programs

Ideal for literacy learning in the classroom, programs such as MS PowerPoint provide ICT examples in the classroom that supplement and support an oral presentation by showing visually the structuring of ideas in a more effective way than is usually possible with a traditional board.


Web creation

You may be surprised, but you can even create a simple web page using MS Word. That’s right. In fact, it is another form of word processing. Only with hyperlinks. There is a lot of value in the process of producing web pages. Can you think of the ICT techniques that can be taught all within meaningful contexts like geography, literacy and so on.


Coding Programs

You can embed coding programs into learning areas such as mathematics, literacy, geography. 



Ideas for Language, Literacy and Early Childhood

Language development in early childhood education is a critical part of child learning and development. Enriched language environments can play a crucial role in ensuring that young children are able to develop the literacy and language skills needed to thrive today.

When using technology in early childhood education, the development of language in early childhood education can be enhanced considerably given the right instructional decisions are made.

Here are my strategies for language development in early childhood education when using ICT tools in early childhood.


Talking Word Processor

This ICT tool supports children’s experimentation as they play with language.


Word Processors

Widely used among children and adults, word processing is closely associated with literacy and language development at all levels. They also offer possibilities for children to compose and write without needing to have mastered the production of letters without hand.



Providing ‘print rich’ environments with printers can provide a fantastic example to development language. The props add interest and basic literacy skills to children’s play, and decisions involved in making them – what size, what colour, what words – give children more opportunities to use language.


Drawing and Painting programs

Children can use simple generic software to draw images to communicate. The communication of information in cartoon-type format can be particularly enhanced using graphics software.


Digital Cameras

Such an ICT device can in itself be an engrossing and motivating catalyst for learning. If you plan the correct intervention, you can help it become all kinds of role-play. Well-planned, purposeful intervention by you will engage children in the learning process and help them make progress in their technological literacy and ICT capability.


Video recorders and audio recorders

Children who are not yet writing can be recorded on video as they tell their story. Alternatively, they can dictate the words to go with their pictures when they are storytelling.


Any key strategies for language development in early childhood should include well organised and well planned stimulating learning experiences. The ICT objects, activities and programs provided should be planned with sensitivity and understanding. An important factor to remember is that all levels of planning documentation should include ICT as a matter of course.

Good planning will lead to leading questions and suggestions for you as a teacher to extend any theme into an ICT direction as part of the natural flow.


Talking books

ICT tools in early childhood can also offer many texts which combine speech and words. By doing this, it reinforces the link between written and spoken text. What you need to decide as an early childhood teacher is whether the speech in a particular story actually models the speech you want the children to use. Always approach these with a certain amount of caution.

Other ICT tools in early childhood that promote literacy and language development include using multilink headphones, webcams, CCTV cameras, tape recorders, walkie-talkies, telephones, etc. to encourage the development of speaking and listening skills.


Other key strategies for language development in early childhood might involve children using puppets to retell stories and videotaping it to be shown to a large group at storytime. This could enable children to develop their speaking skills and increase their self-esteem. If there is an interactive whiteboard available this can be used to develop writing skills on a larger scale.


These ICT tools used in classroom teaching with the exception of ‘talking books’ help to broaden children’s technological literacy. Through your ability to make sound instructional decisions the development of ICT capability can be achieved.


Today, while there are many ICT tools in education the development of ICT capability can only be achieved when they allow children full control over the technology, they are intellectually challenging, involve a high amount of decision-making by children, and are content-free.


The above ICT tools for teaching literacy and language development in early childhood ensure that this can occur. However, their use must go beyond simple exposure of ICT if you are to harness the full potential of ICT in early childhood education.

So build on your expertise of ICT in the classroom now and join colleagues in this course today.







How you can support and enhance Emergent Literacy with Technology?

This is an extract from my online pd for early childhood teachers about "How to support play based learning in early childhood education with digital technology". It delivers up to 10 hours of CPD and be joined as a stand-alone course for just $360 AUD or you can become a member of my ICT in Education Teacher Academy to get INSTANT ACCESS to this course and 70 plus others for the cost of a monthly membership of just $5.99 AUD (cancel anytime).


For some time now, early childhood education has focused specifically on emergent literacy and numeracy skills to prepare young children to become strong readers and to be familiar with numeracy concepts by Year 3. Today, the range of readiness and abilities in literacy and numeracy vary widely from the below-expected levels in this area of learning. 

In Australia, for example, there are many children who are entering formal schooling programs with an apparent lack of school readiness largely due to the lack of access to or lack of participation in preschool programs.

Defining Emergent literacy and numeracy

What is emergent literacy in early childhood education? It is what it suggests – the key skills just emerging or breaking through in a child’s development of formal literacy and language. The answer is the same for mathematics and they are important stages of development.


The components of emergent literacy include the following milestones in a young child:

  • Interest and enjoyment in print — handling books and relating them to their stories or information.
  • Print awareness: how to handle a book, reading from left to right. Your child recognizes pictures and some symbols, signs, or words.
  • Interest in telling and listening to stories. They attend to, repeat, and use some rhymes, phrases, or refrains from stories or songs.
  • They make marks and use them to represent objects or actions. An understanding that words are made up of letters, recognizing letters when they see them.
  • Your child comprehends meaning from pictures and stories.


The Victorian State Government in Australia states that “the development of emergent reading and writing skills are key outcomes of early childhood education”.


Emergent numeracy has had less studies conducted on it but is defined as the ability to recognise and reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts and operations.


Emergent literacy skills in early childhood education

The skills that are developed in both literacy and numeracy are the result of a number of different experiences that occur prior to formal schooling so it is not just limited to school-based learning.

Emergent literacy skills in early childhood education include:

  • Oral language – vocabulary and conversation skills.
  • Print awareness – awareness of the functions and usefulness of print.
  • Book knowledge.
  • Alphabet knowledge – identification of letter names and sounds, numerals and shapes.
  • Phonological awareness – awareness of words, syllables, rhyme, and sounds within words.

 (Howell, 2012)


Some activities that young children can engage in on a daily basis include reading with caregivers, understanding signs encountered, asking questions about meanings of words, word identification, sounding out words, listening to stories with caregivers, and counting and understanding meanings.


Emergent numeracy skills for preschoolers include:

  • Enumeration and understanding of the quantities 0-10.
  • Measurement and estimation using standard and non-standard units.
  • Comparing, seriating and categorising objects based on physical  attributes.
  • Understanding concepts related to measurement and geometry, for example, length, weight, volume, area.

(Howell, 2012)


The role of digital play in developing literacy and numeracy

It is very important to surround children with a rich environment in which their play can develop and ICT has a powerful to play in this occurring. Digital play in the early years does not refer to random, unstructured engagement but describes creative, experimental, and purposeful activity with which effective early years teachers mediate to ensure that genuine learning occurs.


Therefore, having a rich ICT setting will provide a whole range of child-centred early learning activities and pieces of equipment which children can use in many ways to extend and develop their experience.


There are many early childhood learning activities that can become richer as children begin to use electronic media for imaginative play and digital play experiences enable children to create and manipulate things which would otherwise be impossible. ICT activities for preschoolers should in no way replace traditional play experiences of the world but have value in extending these experiences.


Your early childhood learning environment should include a wealth of objects and activities connected with ICT, and these will improve many occasions for learning particularly around communication.


Some tools for digital play in relation to literacy development may include (but not exhaustive) computers, digital cameras, keyboards, toy mobile phones and tablet computers. It is important that the digital technology that you choose to use in your early childhood learning environment is modern and up-to-date with the latest technological developments.


For example, do not use an old dialling telephone when you can get a donated smartphone from the community or from a parent to integrate. “These enable young children to play out the implications of ICT in role as a user, developing appropriate language, and acting out the conventions of handling and control of the device” (Rudd & Tyldesley, 2006, p.17).


Even the computer – working or not – can be a very useful catalyst for play!


The development of emerging literacy and numeracy in the early childhood learning environment is an area of where digital technology can play a role in the classroom. Here is what Guernsey and Levine (2015, p.112) suggest: 

  • Consider the use of ebooks, videos, digital slide shows, ‘wonder of the day’ online entries and more along with printed books to stimulate language development and conversation in the classroom.
  • Be aware that popular apps for teaching reading may focus primarily on decoding skills (such as letter identification and phonics); research on literacy shows that learning to read involves a focus on vocabulary development, comprehension and oral language skills in addition to decoding skills.
  • Remember that the technology world is changing every day, but that the needs of students, who may be advanced digital navigators and still emerging readers, are not.
  • Rely on your craft knowledge and research on effective literacy instruction to separate the fashion of the day from promising innovations.
  • Integrate new tools with proven approaches that already work to become a strong early literacy educator.



Seven principles for using ICT to teach Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Education

Here are seven principles Rudd and Tyldesley (2009, p. 20) that you should consider in your planning.

Ensure an educational purpose

Always approach the encounter between child and computer with a critical attitude. Ask questions such as these:

  • Is the interest level appropriate for this child?
  • Is the content level appropriate for this child?
  • Do these two levels match each other?
  • What are the children actually doing when they use this?
  • Would they be better employed in a ‘real-life’ version of this activity?
  • What do I hope to achieve with the children who are using this software?
  • Are there opportunities for creativity, self-expression and language extending talk?


Role play is often the most educational use of ICT – either with real, working pieces of equipment, or with toys for pretend play.


Encourage collaboration

  • Do the ICT activities for preschoolers in my setting encourage collaboration?
  • How can I enrich the quality of interaction and conversation around these activities?
  • Are there any ways in which I can make ICT equipment more accessible?


Integrate with other aspects of the curriculum

  • Do I routinely set up ICT activities in the role play areas?
  • Are digital cameras and control toys available, or just on ‘special’ occasions?


Ensure that the child is in control

  • How active are the children – mentally or physically – in their engagement with ICT in my setting?
  • Is there any software I should introduce to give children control?
  • Is there any software I should sideline because it keeps children ‘passive’ in their learning?


Choose applications that are transparent

  • Can I make children’s access to ICT more simple and intuitive?
  • Look carefully at the software you use in your setting. Discuss it with the children: What is hard to do? What is really easy? What would you like it be able to do if you had three wishes?


Avoid applications containing violence and stereotyping

Always be sensitive to the content of games and programs – they may not be promoting the values you would wish to promote.


Be aware of health and safety issues

  • Is equipment safety set up, with no trailing wires or unprotected sockets?
  • Are children aware of the danger of dazzling from projector beams?
  • Are children encouraged to set well at the computer?
  • Are ICT issues included in our health and safety policy?


How to Boost Literacy in Early Childhood with ICT

Literacy is an area of learning where the use of ICT can greatly enhance. These days, traditional methods can be complimented with a wide variety of experiences. The emerging technology that pervades our lives has also had an impact on literacy itself in a strict sense as it dissolves with coming in of the new literacies that embrace media and communications.


In the 21st century, both teachers and children are expected to thrive in an online community and network. Mobile learning (m-learning) has now taken over e-learning and devices such as tablets and smartphones are now commonplace in society. Children are expected to learn outside of the classroom more. It raises the question “how do these initiatives combine so that the potential of ICT is fully utilised to support young children’s literacy?”


Real-world experiences in education is essential to help children prepare for the future. Early childhood teachers need to adequately consider the factors that move children into literacy and the changing nature of literacy as ICT influences practices.


Why boost literacy with ICT in early childhood education and care?

There are four reasons why you should use ICT to develop literacy in early childhood education. These are:

  1. ICT is a tool that many children are familiar with;
  2. ICT provides motivation for children to learn to read and write;
  3. ICT can aid in teaching and learning as the research evidence suggests;
  4. It is no longer enough to teach children traditional text. They need to become familiar with a range of text that adults use today.



Scaffolding Literacy with ICT

Studies have indicated that without effective scaffolding ICT will not have an impact on literacy learning in early childhood education. Common practices included instructing children on the use of a program or allowing them to work independently unless there were technical problems.


Despite this, you don’t have to go looking for different approaches to teach both as you can use the same approach to teach both of them. These include:


  • Whole class brief on the context and activity;
  • Detailed explanation to each group when they were ready to work on the activity;
  • Careful choice of pairs to work on the computer;
  • A review of key points with the group afterwards.


Whilst these work best in primary education, it can also be applied in early childhood to serve the purpose of the continuity of teaching practices which aids in student understanding and progression.



Can ICT help children to read?

Yes it can if you ICT in the right way. Talking books are the best way to achieve this for the following reasons:


  1. Increases children’s word reading accuracy both in and out of the context of the story;
  2. Improves their understanding of the stories;
  3. Supports them by offering them access to the meaning of the stories and the way sentences work.


It is important that you discriminate between the useful and the less useful ones. Research has found that the most useful ones combine multimedia with interactive additions that actually support literacy within the story. Here animations are used to support the story.


This particular software has the following benefits for young children:


  • Gives them an overview of the story prior to reading it;
  • Supports children’s independent reading by sounding out unrecognised words;
  • Making the features of narrative explicit;
  • Encouraging collaborative reading in front of a public page.


 How else can ICT help develop literacy in early childhood?

  • Computers and printers can help children make signs, banners or posters;
  • Help weave together words and pictures. For example, putting captions on the end of photos helps to develop children’s written language skills;
  • ICT supports children’s storytelling by allowing them to dictate words that go with their pictures. They could also record their voices.


The benefits can be realized within the literacy curriculum and in most children's learning activities. ICT can help children observe, fix, memorize, describe and share their impressions with other people, and find answers to their questions.

Your role as an early childhood teacher in guiding and assisting children’s learning with ICT is therefore critical, both for literacy and for other areas of the curriculum.


You have the important of supporting early literacy through joint activity around the computer. Exposure to new technologies in the classroom will not prepare children adequately for the new literacies they require, they have to be integrated effectively into classroom practice.

How to assess language development in Preschoolers?

Preschool language development is significant as during this phase of learning there are a number of key milestones.  


Between the ages of 4-5, young children should be able to:

  • Tell stories from start to finish and answer questions about those stories.
  • Put together more difficult sentences with conjoining words such as ‘if’, ‘and’, and ‘when’.
  • Understand and be able to carry out tasks said by others.


Young children can develop language skills through everyday digital experiences and as this is massively helped by learning through interaction, the natural capability of ICT resources enable young to interact and collaborate.


The use of ICT as a tool for communication can dramatically help language development for preschoolers. What are then the key milestones to look for that you can document and record?


According to Aussie Childcare Network, these consists of:

  • Understand the concepts (same and different).
  • Speaks in sentences of 6 or more words.
  • Asks a lot of questions.
  • Speaks clearly enough for others to understand.
  • Often ask the when, how and why questions.
  • Begins to use comparatives correctly (fast, faster, fastest).
  • Able to re-tell a story.
  • Repeats words with more syllables.
  • Enjoys engaging in pretend play.
  • Understand between two and three instructions.
  • Names familiar objects and animals.
  • Pays attention while listening to a story.
  • Correctly names and identifies shapes and colours.
  • Uses because and so correctly.
  • Speaks in sentences and uses many different words.
  • Answers simple questions.
  • Tells stories.
  • Talks constantly.
  • Enjoys talking and may like to experiment with new words.
  • Uses adult forms of speech.
  • Takes part in conversations.
  • Enjoys jokes, rhymes and stories.
  • Will assert self with words.
  • Pronunciation of words are clear.
  • Uses many descriptive words while talking.
  • Uses language to tease and tell jokes.
  • Understands sequence of events.
  • Overall speech should be grammatically correct.
  • Uses future tense.
  • Tells longer stories.
  • Says name and address.


These are the key milestones in preschool language development that may arise when integrating Information and Communication Technology in early childhood education.






Language development activities

Application of Strategies for Literacy, Language, and Communication Development

Start applying these strategies today by embedding our language and literacy development activities for preschoolers.

We have divided this online workshop for early childhood educators into two sections. This is in accordance with the Statutory Framework (DfES, 2012a as cited in Dryden, 2017) which states that it is necessary to separate communication and language development from literacy development.

  1. Communication and Language Development.
  2. Emergent literacy development.

Read on to discover how to gain instant access to these language development activities.


Communication and Language Development Activities

The Early Years Learning Framework recognises the importance of communication and language development by promoting responsive practices and principles. If you teach, however, in the Early Years Foundation Stage you would also be aware that “the development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development” (


Today, language acquisition in the digital age is aided by the two-way use of communication technologies – the ‘CT’ in ICT! As early childhood educators, it is significant to understand that while children are listening to speech in their own home environment, their speech does not develop adequately without two-way communication.


Your challenge is to ensure that all children have access to a stimulating and diverse range of verbal expression and that they begin to develop a wide vocabulary.


Throughout this section of the workshop for early childhood educators, we provide you with purposeful preschool technology lesson plans to develop language and communication skills in young children. They provide open-ended opportunities for young children to communicate with their peers and with adults.

The language development activities that you have access to will encourage you to meet the following early childhood teacher standards:


  • (APST 2.5.2) - Submitting a plan for learning and play that encourages children to be effective communicators in a range of ways and;
  • (APST 2.6.2) - That incorporates sensitive and responsive use of technologies relevant to the age and interests of the children.

Discuss how ICT supports children’s thinking and learning across a range of learning experiences.

  • (APST 3.4.2) - Plan should demonstrate how you selected the ICT resources to engage in meaningful learning across a wide range of experiences


In this section of the online workshop, you will be able to download the following language development activities/lesson plans for preschool in these topics covered below (2 sample activities are provided here, but many more are added in the online workshop):

Theme/topic Language & Communication Development Activities
How early childhood teachers can promote language development?  
What is communication and language development in Early Childhood?  
What is communication technology in early childhood education?
  • Walkie-Talkie Activity: can be used for children with EAL to encourage them to engage in sustained conversations.
  • Video conferencing activity: Organise with another preschool/kindergarten group to video conference.

Plus 8 more language development activities!

Language development activities for preschoolers

How to create a language-rich ECE learning environment with technology?  
Communication competencies in ECE with ICT
  • Creative play with ‘drawing and painting’ software/apps (Visual expression)
  • Predictive text activity – explaining and demonstrating how smartphones use predictive text.

Plus 8 more language development activities!

Language development activities for preschool

How to plan for communication competencies?  
Dual language learners and ICT
  • Digital storytelling with apps or programs
  • Add speech bubbles or labels to digital photos of children's people, places and things to create class books.

Plus 8 more language development activities!

Language development activities

Language development, Technology and Relationships  
Strategies to encourage language experiences with ICT
  • Role playing with working/non-working digital technologies
  • Creative name writing with a drawing and painting software/app.

Plus 8 more language development activities!

Language Development activities

Click to download


Literacy Activities for Preschoolers

While ICT is never a good substitute for a highly qualified educator, it certainly is weighing heavily on the classrooms of every child’s education across the globe. Literacy according to the EYLF includes a range of modes of communication including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts and drawing along with talking, listening, and writing.


Earlier on, I highlighted the first stage of literacy development in early childhood education – Emergent literacy. It is an important aspect of communication and is vital for successful learning across the curriculum.


Included in the second section of this online workshop for early childhood educators are literacy activities for preschoolers that 1) focuses on literacy development and 2) develops ICT capabilities in the early childhood learning environment.


Like the language and communication activities for preschoolers above, I have embedded literacy activities for preschoolers in most of the topics/sessions covered such as the following.


Topics/Themes Activities/lesson plans
What is emergent literacy in early childhood education?  
Stages of emergent literacy  
The Role of digital play in developing emergent literacy  
ICT tools and media for emergent literacy development  
Digital Literacy in early childhood education  
Reading Competencies in the digital age  
Strategies for literacy development in ECE  


Combine these literacy and language activities for preschoolers into your short-term and medium planning today and support literacy and language development with ICT in early childhood education now.

Get lifetime access to this online workshop for early childhood educators – continual professional development – for $280 Aud.

Access this online workshop as a member of our ICT in Education Teacher Academy for just $5.99 per month (cancel anytime).







How to Support Dual Language Learners in ECE

This is the transcript from one of my free webinars for early childhood educators that you will find as part our ICT in Education Teacher Academy. Gain INSTANT ACCESS to this replay and many others in addition to 70 plus online workshops for preschool teachers. Become a member now for just $5.99 AUD per month (Cancel anytime).


Video Transcript


- Well, good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to wherever you are, whoever you are. Welcome to this online presentation with my special host Karen Nemeth. Karen is an author consultant and presenter on first and second language development in early childhood education. She's a writer and consulting editor for the National Association for the Education of Young Children and serves as the co-chair on the early childhood special interest group for the National Association of Bilingual Education. And a steering board member for the International T-E-S-O-L Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, early childhood and everything else. Welcome, welcome, Karen.


- Yeah, a lot of things.


- It is my privilege and pleasure to meet you and to co-host this presentation today on digital technology for dual language learners in early childhood education.


- Well, I thank you for inviting me to have this conversation. And I know we already have somebody who's signed on, which I like to say hello, and other people who will be watching this as a recording later.

So we'll try to talk both ways, talk to people who are with us in the here and now, and talk about things that would be of interest and spark conversations for people who view this later. And so I know it's a kind of a funny list when you list the things I do, but you have to understand that it's very easy to get pulled in to these different kinds of work because there's so much going on right now.

And it's always exciting, and there are new ideas to learn about and just new perspectives, new resources. So every time I think, "Oh, I should really just take a break." Then something new will happen, and then I'll wanna like get together with another co-author and write an article or something like that, or sign on and do presentation.

So as I was saying to you a little earlier, Michael, I think you offer so many great resources about technology in early childhood education.

And one of the ways I wanna connect with that work today is thinking about well, what's on the mind of an educator when they read the guidance or suggestions that an expert provides, but that educator might say, "Well, I don't know how to use your advice because the children in my group speak different languages, or they don't speak the same language that's on the computer screen or whatever language changes or challenges might be faced."

I brought some information from my own work, but I also wanted just to have a chance to have conversations, ask a few questions, like, what is it really like to implement the technology that we have in groups that we might not expect, and with languages that we might not be prepared for or that kind of thing?

So I think it's very important to start a conversation in education, we must always have a PowerPoint. A PowerPoint is where the power is. We have a PowerPoint, but that's just a kind of a scaffold. It's not a rule that we'll have to follow, but I did start with these slides and 'cause I did wanna show it. This is my email address,, because that is my website

And these are some of my publications. I have one, my newest book is called "Educating Young Children with Diverse Languages and Cultures" where I talk a lot about technology in there.

Also have at the second edition out of Universal Design for Learning in the Early Childhood Classroom." A lot of talk about technology in there. I have another book specifically for school leaders and directors called "Young Dual Language Learners" a guide for pre-K to three leaders. And so these are just some of the things that I've been working on, but I actually even brought this book that I co-authored in 2012, which seems new, but is actually a long time ago.

But like what back in 2012, my co-author Fran Simon and I really wanted to write all these things into a book that teachers could have on their shelf that they could refer to. And of course, whatever we wrote in 2012, a lot has changed since then, but it just goes to show you that digital decisions, choosing the right technology tools for early childhood education has been on my mind for a while.

And most particularly because it's been on my mind to sort out what do we have available to us and how can we make it work when our children speak different languages or our families speak different languages. So it's a big subject and that's why I'm sort of impressed Michael, about what you do because you are taking on this whole big subject of technology. And I'm sure that you get a lot of questions and you see things happening out in schools.

And so I don't want to get overwhelmed by the bigness of the topic.

So I try to just squash it down into four components that I really try to think about.

And I really think about the importance of connections in the work that we do with young children. And so as young children are developing, we actually are physically helping their brain build connections between neurons, actual cells are being built and changed by the way we teach young children and that includes the way we use technology.

But more symbolically, we're helping children learn words and learn the connections between words at their meanings. We're helping children build connections between people, social connections.

And then we are helping children make connections between words they already know and in their familiar language and then words they have to learn in a new language.

So technology plays a really big part in supporting all of these things, but we have to know what are the best ways to use it. And so that makes it so important to connect how we use technology to support children from diverse languages, with your recommendations, Michael, about what is developmentally appropriate for children.

So we want those things always to go together, not separate, right? So I worked with the group at the National Association for Education of Young Children in United States, and they partnered with the Fred Rogers Center. And I don't know if early childhood, well, if anybody or you Michael, do you know Mr. Rogers? Are you familiar with the "Children's Show"? You are?


- I've heard of it, yes, yes.


- You're making me feel old now, okay. Well, the funny thing about Fred Rogers was that he was all about supporting children's feelings and their social connections and here, it was called Mr. Rogers neighborhood because of all about who was in the neighborhood and who do we talk to and how do we help our neighbors and how do our neighbors help us?

And so it was very kind of emotional and social until you take a step back and you realize he was doing the whole thing through technology, through television. And it was so warm and fuzzy that we often forget that Mr. Rogers was our leader in the United States. And thinking about ways to use technology, where you forget that it's technology.

And it just allows you to really communicate things that are developmentally appropriate for young children. So he made this and we've had puppets and songs "And the Mailman Came to Visit" and "A Little Toy Train" came around. You know those kind of things. But as time went on, he really built a whole system of supports for early childhood and the use of technology.

And so even though Mr. Rogers has passed away, there is still a Fred Rogers Center, a Fred Rogers Institute sort of, and that group, the board of that group worked with the National Association for Education of Young Children to create a position statement about ways to use technology tools and interactive media in early childhood education, which really connects with the principles that you're talking about in your work in Australia.

And so actually, I don't know, I never asked you this, Michael. Did you read, are you aware of this or is it just that everybody's reading the same research and we have the same conclusions.

- Pretty much that a mixer of both, I think like I am aware of this and yeah.


- But it goes together with the things, because this was written like 10, 12 years ago. And what you're writing about now reflects this position statement in the context of new developments, new tools and new resources. But a lot of the things that they said then are still true for what we are working on now. And so this is my statement.

This is not a quote from the position statement, but over the years, I've had to be willing to fight for the value of technology because we have a lot of early childhood teachers who think all technology is bad, but when you teach children who come from different language backgrounds, educators need technology, right?

To be able to find resources in the languages, or to get to learn more about where a child came from or to find translations or different versions of things, technology really makes the difference in how well we can build a high quality learning environment for children that's-


- Absolutely, absolutely Karen. One of the things that strikes me about this is that when you're talking about those people that think that technology in early childhood education is a bad thing, the moment they might, those people may or may not use technology in the work, in the learning environment there for what you just said to find things out for the internet, for anything else that might have a mobile phone.

And one of the things that really stands out about that is that young children learn best through observation. So they are already observing you using the computer, using your phone, printing off something. And then yes, it doesn't make sense to me.


- Those things are true. And so it's often like a very difficult sort of push and pull conversation because you and I would agree too much technology is not good. We're not advocating that every child should do everything on technology all the time, but we also don't like people to say never do technology none of the time, right?

We wanna try to sort out that balance, but I still do have, I mean, even recently there was research in the United States, not research, a study in the United States that looked at an online preschool program. And so an article came out with a headline that said, Such and such locations seeks however, millions of dollars of funding to provide computer education for preschool children.

And all over Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, people were complaining and yelling and objecting, but they hadn't read the article and they didn't really know what it was all about, but just the idea that they would write, "Well, it's terrible children need to interact with other children.

They shouldn't be sitting in front of a computer all day." With this particular program in United States, it was actually called, it's called Jumpstart.

And the idea was in areas where there is no preschool available and that children's parents are not aware of all the things they could be helping their children learn that this program, if there's funding to bring computers and internet that for 20 minutes a day, just 20 minutes, the program would be for the parent and the child to sit together and learn together what are some developmentally appropriate explorations or songs to sing or things to learn together that the parents might be surprised they didn't know that their child could begin to learn letters or could understand science concepts that they could explore in the kitchen or that kind of thing?

But 20 minutes a day does not replace social interaction. It doesn't replace playing in the mud. I mean, I'm a big fan of playing in the mud, just as much as I'm a fan of working with technology. I think we could all join together and also support that messaging, right? So that we have that opportunity to reach out to early childhood educators to say, it's not all, it's not nothing.

It's intentional use of technology for a purpose. So what do you find in Australia? What kinds of objections are you hearing from people that are concerned about technology?


- Pretty much the same.


- Yeah.


- Pretty much the same, Karen. I would just sometimes even when I post, some of my articles to early childhood groups anywhere, someone would be objecting, oh, this should never have to be a thing in preschools, the same sort of argument, same sort of thinking as you would find over there pretty much.


- Yeah, yeah. And I think that is very difficult because those objections are very heartfelt, right? People feel very strongly, but I will push back because I have to say to people, even if you're not comfortable, if you are working in a classroom with a child who doesn't understand a word, you're saying, is it right to deprive them of language connections and information, they could understand because you're not comfortable with the screen.

How else will you learn the child's language and help them learn in your classroom? If you say no to all screens or all technology. And it's not that easy. Well, in United States, especially in the urban areas, we have sometimes have early childhood teachers that might have 20 children in their class, and there might be eight or 10 different languages that teacher can't possibly learn all those languages all the time, but technology can really help, right?

So these are some things we need technology and digital resources to support the languages, to connect with newcomers to make a welcoming environment. You know that reminds me of a story. Once I worked with a teacher in an urban area right outside of New York city.

So lot of language diversity, and she said, "Oh, every year I have a lot of children that speak Spanish, but one this year I decided to learn a Christmas song in Spanish with the children in December."

Well, they started school in September. So September, October, November, she had nothing prepared in Spanish for these children, but the children only spoke Spanish. So she was teaching, teaching, teaching. She had a whole bunch of children that didn't understand anything until December when she sang ♪ Feliz Navidad ♪ ♪ Feliz Navidad ♪ ♪ Feliz Navidad ♪ ♪ Prospero Ano y Felicidad ♪

So then, in December they learned Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. So that wasn't much of a learning experience for those children. And so that's why I say connect with newcomers.

What are we doing the very first day? When you have children that come to your group that speak a language you don't speak how nervous they must feel and timid and so out of sorts and out of connection and technology can help teachers get ready to welcome those children on the first day, because a good first day is like the best path to a good year in education, right?

Those first impressions make a big difference. So I really look for that looking for ways to be prepared proactively for the first day a child comes to respond to those teachable moments. Like in a lot of times we have preschool teachers that do like planting seeds as a science exploration, they'll make maybe little paper cup with dirt, and they put the seeds, they put it on the window sill, wait for it.

Well, if your children all speak your language, the teacher is talking about what will happen when you put this is a seed and here's where it came from. She's talking, talking, talking, but if you don't understand the teacher's talk, all you know is that she's got a cup of dirt.

She put some little round things in there and put it by the window, and you have no idea what that means. But my goodness, if that teacher could open up the computer and play a YouTube video that shows how a plant grows from seed to a seedling, to a plant, to food, that video can reach all the children. And it doesn't interfere with any of the children, does it? So teachable moments, that's what I'm saying.

It's not always about a grand plan for a major purchase of software for the entire school. Sometimes it's just like thinking about what does this child need so he can understand what we're doing right now in this moment?

And then when we are able to think about the big plans and those moments, those small moments, that's when we do the last thing, right? Providing equitable access to learning for all children, providing equitable access because we're using technology to make sure the door to learning is open for every child, whatever they need, right?


- Absolutely. Okay, okay.


- So in the position statement now I see, oh, I have to move, oops, I have to move my face.

This my face is blocking the word. When used the position, this is the Fred Rogers Center and NAEYC position statement says when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.

You've written about that, right? Intentional, the second point is intentional use requires early childhood teachers and administrators to have information and resources about technology tools.

They need professional development, and they need to know what are the latest resources what's available out there. And they need to be informed in order to make the best choices and then to use the technology in the best ways.

And so that is something I want to ask you about. Like I will just interview you on your own show, Michael, what that this is kind of central to your work is this idea that it's not just about having technology, but it's about learning about it that makes a difference in how well it will work.

So what sort of is behind, what is your motivation? What have you observed or what entered your mind or your heart that made you really want to build this information source for teachers?


- Pretty much, it was my observations and my observations as being I teach myself for many years and for observing how teachers would normally use technology in the classroom, that they just needed to be aware of how they can best apply the strategies, the evidence based strategies that will actually help them to use the technology, the available technology as a tool for learning in their environment there.

And the fact that many, I think many of us, I think still take technology for granted. And as a result that we sometimes might transfer these impressions on young children ourselves.

Sometimes, might not be intentionally, but I think we need to sort of move away from showing young children about how lucky we are to have technology and then us to use it for different things and to model appropriate uses of technology from early childhood education, but also in primary education and secondary education.

And so that young children through their schooling career do learn to use technology as a tool for learning. And they see it as a tool that is designed for specific purpose. And through the work that I've been doing, I hope that teachers will start to see, well, these are the strategies that need to be applied, not just in early childhood, but in primary and secondary.

And so that progression in their capabilities are made, are formed, and then they can become digitally literate citizens in the future.


- Now that is an interesting word. When you take the step from technology, digital learners to digital citizens, that adds a whole layer of responsibility to ask questions, and I'm listening to you talking, I'm thinking, yeah, wow, we want educators to ask questions.

Don't just accept, oh, this is the popular software. Just 'cause it's popular, doesn't mean it's good. We want you to ask questions. We don't want you to accept all technology, right? But hey, if you model that for the children, we want the children to ask questions also.

And I think that just I was listening to you and I was realizing, yeah, when you're talking so much about modeling, you are talking about building that digital citizenship where children also will ask questions. Why, why teacher? Why did you give me this program, this assignment? What am I supposed to learn from this? What is this gonna do for my learning or what...? I mean, sounds funny.

But I actually do know three year olds that ask those kind of questions. We have to be prepared. We have to be prepared to answer those questions and we need to provide information for teachers and administrators to ask those questions as well. So I think that is really important.

So providing online resources, using technology to provide information about technology like your approach is not telling people what to do. It's like giving them thinking tools and citizenship tools that they can use to make their own decisions, right?


- Right.


- So, all right. So now I go to additional parts of the position statement that say limitations are important. We shouldn't just be seeing young children at computers all day, every day.

And this is like a hard message to get across, right? Just because some is good, doesn't mean a lot is better, right? Like it's a good idea for children to learn the alphabet and hear about the alphabet, right?

But making them sit in front of a computer, repeating the alphabet for three hours would not be good. Four hours of alphabet would not be better, right? And we need those limitations, everything in balance.

That's I think that's what that point is saying. And then special considerations about the use of technology with infants and toddlers. And this is so important. And I didn't ask you about this yet. What do you think about the uses of technology with infants and toddlers?


- I think in terms of infants and toddlers, that as with any sort of technology, it should be used with the right guidance, especially with infants and toddlers, where they are at the very key areas of development there.

And it should be, I think always be minimal to start off with, but parents shouldn't, I don't think should ever just give a smartphone or an iPad or any sort of technology to a child as something to play with.

They should be seen there and guiding them and helping them and then, and moving on from that, but always for the advice given on those areas there's.


- Yeah, and so some of the ways that I've seen technology be really useful for infants and toddlers, and there will be some educators that are going to be ready to pounce when I say this.

But if you think about it, when you have a tablet, if you have an iPad or a smartphone, then you can sit with any toddler or infant and show them pictures of their family while they're in childcare or pictures that their family has emailed to you or messaged to you so that you can continue to give that child that connection between home and the program and something familiar that they can talk about that's developmentally appropriate and as well as culturally appropriate.

And I think people sometimes forget about that, just the value of having pictures because families could send pictures in and then you could print them out and then you could make them into a book and then you could show them to the child, but then people grow and change and then they need new pictures.

Now you gotta print those pictures out, and then you gotta make a new book. But if you use your technology, you can have up to date, you can have the picture of what child ate for supper last night, you could have a picture of where they went on the weekend together and have a chat with them, a picture of their new puppy.

And you can talk with that baby about the new puppy in their home. And so you can think of ways to use technology that are not games or quizzes or anything like that, but are just at your fingertips, ready to build those connections that are even good for infants and toddlers.

But I'll tell you a language oriented example, which is that I have observed in programs that care for infants and toddlers that come from different languages.

Now, you think about a baby who's just beginning to try to say words, and they'll say sounds, and you're not really sure is that just gibberish or are they really just trying to say a word, right?

But if you don't know that child's language, they might actually be saying their first words in their home language, and you might just think it's babbling and you might not even respond.

And I have watched that happen. The look on a baby's face, like a one-year-old baby's face when they are saying something meaningful, like they are asking for the ball in their language.

And they are clearly saying the word in their language, but the teacher doesn't know it. And she just looks right past them. And that the baby's face just sinks. It's like, I'm communicating, but it's not getting through. I can't make a connection with the person that's supposed to care for me.

But if I had recordings from home where I can listen to the family recording, real words of the infant saying in their whole language and then explaining what they mean or how to say them properly, imagine what a difference it would make to that baby if that teacher could turn around and repeat that word in their home language and then go get the ball together. So there are ways even for infants and toddlers, that we should be open minded about how we can build those connections.

And it's hard to imagine until you see it in action. And I actually have a video clip, and I didn't ask you this before we talk today, what will happen if I show a video clip.


- Just on one of your screens, it should be I think, okay. I know. Let me have a look.


- May be I should have asked you that earlier. But usually when I record these things in United States usually does continue to record. And it's the video appears on the recording.


- Yup.


- And so I'm gonna give it a try 'cause it illustrates this. And it's a really interesting piece of research and the technology the researcher uses is a whole other technology question. And then it connects to language. Well, let's see if I actually am capable of doing this. So I'm going to stop sharing my beloved PowerPoint and see if I can do this. It is actually the link to the video is on my PowerPoint because I use it a lot. And when you see it, you'll see why, but let's see, it's a TED Talk. It's called "The Linguistic Genius of Babies." And now, oops.


- This is why I stopped using laundry pods. They waste water and pollute the environment with microplastics.


- Skipping the ads. We don't want those ads. We want this TED Talk. And now let me see if I can get back to share. If this doesn't work, you'll tell me and then we'll just stop it.

And we'll just share the link. But it's really engaging so I'm hoping this will work. Let's see, share sound. Oh, now this might not. Wait a minute, what is it saying to me here? It is not giving me.

I have to read this, optimize screen sharing for best full screen video clip zoom, and may... it's not giving me... there's a command that says optimize for video that it's not letting me click.

I wonder what that means. I don't know. I'm just going to go back and try one more time. Because if I can only share the sound, then I'm just gonna share one part where you can hear the sound. I'm going to try it. Is it doing? Can you see?


- I can see that. All right, now I'm gonna click play.


- I want you to take a look


- Can you hear at this baby


- and see it?


- I can, yes.


- Onto are her eyes and the skin you love to touch.


- I'll be back. But today I'm gonna talk to you about something you can't see what's going on up in that little brain of hers. The modern tools of neuroscience are demonstrating to us that what's going on up there is nothing short of rocket science.

And what we're learning is going to shed some light on what the romantic writers and poets describe as the celestial openness of the child's mind. What we see here is a mother in India and she's speaking Koro, which is a newly discovered language.

And she's talking to her baby. What this mother and the 800 people who speak Koro in the world understand that to preserve this language, they need to speak it to the babies.

And therein lies a critical puzzle. Why is it that you can't preserve a language by speaking to you and I, to the adults? Well, it's got to do with your brain. What we see here is that language has a critical period for learning.

The way to read this slide is to look at your age on the horizontal access. And you'll see on the vertical, your skill at acquiring a second language. The babies and children are geniuses until they turn seven.

And then there's a systematic decline. After puberty, we fall off the map. No scientists dispute this curve, but laboratories all over the world are trying to figure out why it works this way. Work in my lab is focused on the first critical period in development.

And that is the period in which babies try to master, which sounds are used in their language. We think by studying how the sounds are learned, we'll have a model for the rest of language.

And perhaps for critical periods that may exist in childhood for social, emotional and cognitive development. So we've been studying the babies, using a technique that we're using all over the world in the sounds of all languages.

The baby sits on a parent's lap and we train them to turn their heads when a sound changes like from A to E if they do so that the appropriate time, the black box lights up and a pan to bear pounds of drum, a six monther adores the task. What have we learned?

Well, babies all over the world are what I like to describe as citizens of the world. They can discriminate all the sounds of all languages, no matter what country we're testing and what language we're using.

And that's remarkable because you and I can't do that. We're culture bound listeners. We can discriminate the sounds of our own language, but not those of foreign languages.

So the question arises, when do those citizens of the world turn into the language bound listeners that we are, and the answer before their first birthdays, what you see here is performance on that head turn task. For babies tested in Tokyo and in the United States here in Seattle, as they listen to ra and la sounds important to English, but not to Japanese. So at six to eight months, the babies are totally equivalent.

Two months later, something incredible occurs. The babies in the United States are getting a lot better. Babies in Japan are getting a lot worse, but both of those groups of babies are preparing for exactly the language that they're going to learn.

So the question is what's happening during this critical two month period? This is the critical period for sound development, but what's going on up there? So there are two things going on. The first is that the babies are listening intently to us and they're taking statistics as they listen to us talk, they're taking statistics. So listen to two mothers speaking motherese the universal language we use when we talk to kids, first in English and then in Japanese.


- Oh, I love your big blue eyes. So pretty and nice.


- During the production of speech, when babies listen, what they're doing is taking statistics on the language that they hear. And those distributions grow. And what we've learned is that babies are sensitive to the statistics and the statistics of Japanese and English are very, very different. English has a lot of Rs and Ls the distribution shows. And the distribution of Japanese is totally different where we see a group of intermediate sounds, which is known as the Japanese Ra.

So babies absorb the statistics of the language and it changes their brains. It changes them from the citizens of the world, to the culture bound listeners that we are. But we as adults are no longer absorbing those statistics.

We're governed by the representations in memory that we're formed early in development. So what we're seeing here is changing our models of what the critical period is about. We're arguing from a mathematical standpoint, that the learning of language material may slow down when our distributions stabilize.

It's raising lots of questions about bilingual people. Bilinguals must keep two sets of statistics in mind at once and flip between them one after the other, depending on who they're speaking to.

So we asked ourselves, can the babies take statistics on a brand new language? And we tested this by exposing American babies who'd never heard a second language to Mandarin for the first time during the critical period.

We knew that when monolinguals were tested in Taipei and Seattle on the Mandarin sounds, they showed the same pattern. Six to eight months, they're totally equivalent. Two months later, something incredible happens.

But the time when these babies are getting better, not the American babies, what we did was expose American babies during this period to Mandarin, it was like having Mandarin relatives come and visit for a month and move into your house and talk to the babies for 12 sessions. Here's what it looked like in the laboratory.

- So what have we done to their little brains? We had to run a control group to make sure that just coming into the laboratory didn't improve your Mandarin skills. So a group of babies came in and listen to English, and we can see from the graph that exposure to English didn't improve their Mandarin.

But look what happened to the babies exposed to Mandarin for 12 sessions. They were as good as the babies in Taiwan who'd been listening for 10 and a half months. What it demonstrated is that babies take statistics on a new language, whatever you put in front of them, they'll take statistics on, but we wondered what role the human being played in this learning exercise.

So we ran another group of babies in which the kids get the same dosage, the same 12 sessions, but over a television set. And another group of babies who had just audio exposure and looked at a teddy bear on the screen.

What did we do to their brains? What you see here is the audio result, no learning whatsoever. And the video result, no learning whatsoever. It takes a human being for babies to take their statistics.

The social brain is controlling when the babies are taking their statistics, we wanna get inside the brain and see this thing happening. As babies are in front of televisions, as opposed to in front of human beings.

Thankfully, we have a new machine magnetoencephalography that allows us to do this. It looks like a hair dryer from Mars, but it's completely safe, completely noninvasive and silent.


- Okay, I'm stopping it there because hopefully people who are watching us talk today will be motivated to take a look at this video, "The Linguistic Genius of Babies" that is a TED Talk. And it told us something really interesting, right?


- It did.


- About the role of technology in teaching. And we find that with the really young children, it's not about technology pushing information into the brain. It's about using technology to support our interactions with people, right?

So I'm gonna go back to my PowerPoint to see, and 'cause I have some information about that. Let's see, I need to move our faces so I can get to my commands. Okay, all right. So these are just some more of the things that we talked about that are in the position statement and these principles that I just showed from the Fred Rogers Center and NAEYC position statement about technology and early education were then adopted by the United States Federal Department of Education as guidance so the national education website now posts these same principles.

And this is the part about dual language learners that I wrote that's in that federal document now, which I won't even repeat it because it's basically all the things that we've been talking about.

And this is the link to that video that I wanted to make sure everybody has. And now I wanna take a step back and say, wow, when she said she had the babies watching the video, no learning whatsoever.

So I wanna take a step back from that because there are gonna be people that say, that's right, we told you, but the truth is there are circumstances when research has shown that really young children do learn a lot from screens.

And one of those whole categories of research is when children have responsive interactions with adults, by video chat, by Skype or FaceTime, there's a whole class of research now showing that they really do learn, and very particularly they can really progress in language when they have responsive two-way interactions using the screen. So it turned out was never the screen that was bad. It was the way we were using it.

So do you know examples in Australia of ways that teachers use screens that allow children to interact back and forth.


- Pretty much just which would see they're happening in the U.S. We have touch screens, iPads of course are being used to develop languages in early childhood centers as well. So just in those sort of cases, yeah.


- So I'll add to that, that a really fantastic technology tool is relatives. So like we always think about, oh, I like to support technology, you have to just like buy the technology and the technology will do the teaching.

But what if one of your tools in a classroom of two-year-olds or three-year-olds or four-year-olds was access to Skype or FaceTime or some video chat platform where a relative from their home country could sign on and sing songs with the children in their home language, or read a story in the home language or take the phone outside and show the neighbourhood like this is where June Lee used to live and this is where we used to go shopping and that kind of thing.

So sometimes we're always thinking of like, well, how can technology put information in children? But sometimes it's just the pathway for the information. And so that's why I like to show that video that it reminds us the more interaction children have when they use technology.

It can be two children or a child and adult looking at the screen and interacting, or it can be two people on two sides of the screen interacting. Oh, I would just tell you a funny story. 'Cause I have grandchildren that live in another country, and they are 10 and seven and three-years-old. So I have to be pretty creative to play with those children and keep them occupied on the screen with me.

But the other day, two of my grandchildren were both ill at the same time. They both had chickenpox. And so their mother was trying, you know when they have a fever very near time, "No drink a little bit more, oh, eat this healthy food."

And they say, "No, I don't feel well." So I brought the laptop into my kitchen. I said, "Well, look at all the healthy food I have, I have this banana, and I have this carrot." And my daughter said, "Wait a minute. Why don't you try throwing that banana really hard at the screen? Maybe it'll come through and come to our house in England." So I threw that at that screen and she said, "What? I hear a noise in the kitchen." And she went running into her kitchen and she came back, "Whoa, the banana came in our kitchen. Technology, technology. So, but that is a story about using technology. I could not have done that without technology, right?


- Right.


- And yet it wasn't the technology that controlled the learning. We had all the technology was the support for the learning, not the control.

So I just put a few facts here about children under age six, who are learning in two or more languages are considered dual language learners because the research shows they're not finished with either language they need.

When children are young, they need supports in all their languages to help them understand and learn the things they need to learn. And so that's what all these points say, bilingual brain is not the same as a bot monolingual brain.

It needs different kinds of supports to exercise and receive in both languages or even if they have more than two languages. So we need to find resources, videos, books, recorded books, et cetera.

Technology can also help teachers by finding translations, help teachers by finding research that supports the choices they make to support their dual language learners, videos and demonstrations I talked about helps teachers create materials for the children finding.

So if you have a favorite story book in your classroom, you can just translate some of the key words and just print them out and add them, stick the translated page into the book you have.

So you can then have it ready to read in both languages. You can collect observations, which I think is so important that as children are talking about what they're learning in class, their artwork, they're playing outside, whatever it is, if I don't understand what that child is saying, I want to use technology to record what they're saying so that I can have somebody listen and say, oh my goodness that child is having a whole sophisticated conversation with their friend about ramps going up and down in the playground.

I wouldn't know that if I didn't record it with my technology in order to get those translation and that's a good way to get the families involved. We also talk about learning games, tools for creating things.

These are all things that are on your list of recommendations, right? Software that allows children to do exploring and researching, technology that allows children to document their work to snap pictures of things they're building or things they're observing on a walk outside, reading digital stories, listening to culturally appropriate music that it's not just silly songs, but songs that have real meaning to children or real traditional songs, et cetera.

These are all things that teachers can use technology to bring in and to make available to the children. But we have problems when we look at educational software, the teaching software, because those softwares they spend so much developing them that they don't often build in these kinds of tools.

And they may be are available in two languages and that's their big concession. But in United States, in our early childhood programs, we have over 200 different languages represented. And I always say it's not just about the most common languages.

Every child needs to learn. Not just the ones in the majority. And so we need to think about how we're looking for flexibility, creativity, responsiveness in these big programs. What do they provide for the child that doesn't understand the language of the software that's being used? I have a couple of examples, but I know, I feel like I'm just gonna talk forever.

We've been talking for an hour already. We have to stop right now, Michael because if we do, I'll just send you links for some more examples. Do we have to stop right now?


- No, it's fine. It's all good.


- Oh boy, okay. But I do wanna ask you what kind of examples you recommend just in general about early learning software that lets children be creative?


- Well, I think one of the ones that come to mind is "Book Creator" is one that allows children to be creative and also allows them to develop their language skills, language and literacy skills.


- Does it let them record their voice, the "Book Creator", or do they just type and put pictures together?


- They can type and put pictures together. Another one though, I think trying what's it? Oh yes, I think it's called "Draw and Tell."


- Oh yes.


- From "Duck Duck Goose."


- No. "Duck Duck Moose" I think.


- "Duck Duck Moose."


- "Duck Duck Moose." I thought it was.


- I've met those guys so I know.


- That's a really good one where they can take digital images, they can draw on the images to add their own stories. They can then record the voice telling the story so that's-


- Oh, now I'm gonna interrupt you. I'm gonna interrupt you 'cause that is one of my favorites, right? So when you have children that speak a number of different languages.

So say if the teacher takes the children on a walk to the post office, to mail a letter. And she takes pictures of what they observe at the post office, then she can download those pictures into the "Draw and Tell" story. And each page could have a picture.

So you could have the same file of pictures, but one child can record what they remember in English. Another child can record on the same pictures. You have the same file, but another child can record what they remember in Mandarin.

And another child can record what they remember in Korean or whatever language. So that in one project, the teacher can include every language and they can send the file home.

The families can have the software too, 'cause that one's free the "Duck Duck Moose" version. And the families can have it at home. And so if the child is too young to tell the story, a family member could tell the story in more detail and we save it and now it's available in the classroom. See, I'm jumping on you. I asked you the question, but I got too excited. I'm gonna show you this other one. This is like old school.

I'm just showing you my phone 'cause this is another one that's called "My Story App." Anyway, if you could see that.


- All right, yes.


- And I have some stories in there, but wait a minute. I'm gonna see if I can show beginning of what it looks like.


- Something else that comes to mind too is in terms of using children's voices I see.


- You see?


- I do. If you don't have like iPads or tablet PCs, you could use things as simple as PowerPoint allows us to record children's voices these days.


- Yes.


- So you can use that and then you can combine that as well with other simple or not simple, but developmentally appropriate software that is already available on most computers. Like what used to be MS Paint, now Paint 3D, children can create images, which is another way of telling stories. And then I can...


- I'm gonna interrupt you again. You keep saying these things that get me all excited. Okay, so I have a friend who's written two books about three dimensional learning for young children, but we present together, right?

Because she's talking about the research about three dimensional hands on learning and how it supports language.

And so then we talk about, imagine if it helps all children, so those drawing programs are good for all children, but if you are a child where that has entered school and nobody understands your language and you have no way to communicate, and then somebody gives you a way to draw these beautiful, rich, sophisticated artworks that communicate, you have now a way of communicating that's on par with every child in your class.

And so sure enough, my friend actually has found in the research that she did for her books, that it's not just about doing hands on things, but then drawing what you've done and preserving it is takes it from creating to communicating about what you've created through the drawing.

And that's a great equalizer for all children, right? So you see what I mean? You just started talking about it and then I just got a little too acceptable.

Sorry. But so yeah, so to making drawings as a way of communicating, let's elevate that as a message for teachers that are working with linguistically diverse children, drawing can be a language across for all children or children that have trouble with speech or language delay or all those kinds of reasons why we need additional ways to communicate.

So I hope you remember what else you were gonna say, because I already interrupted you two times. So sorry, do you have any other suggestions to add here about things that let children create? And so simple drawing and using PowerPoints, voice recording, these are all good ones.


- No, absolutely. Video recording children's story experiences, video recording them, I think the most important thing is that as long as you think use technology as a tool for creating, right?

And then the children be able to pick up what they then need to do. And then the same time language development can be achieved through many of these things, through image creation, through even creating digital stories, enabling children, not only to read digital stories, but to create digital stories, simple software such as PowerPoint "Book Creator", "Draw and Tell." All those are just the developmentally appropriate for young children to be able to work on their language development in their learning on this.


- Each in their own way, each in their own way.


- Absolutely. But you know what I love about the way you're describing that is it has that feeling, not only of allowing children to create their stories, but honoring their stories, by preserving them, honoring their thinking by giving them a way to capture it, honoring the power of their creativity by making it last.

And so, yeah, we read a book with children and then they act out the story afterwards. How about we take a video of them, how powerful their creativity comes to life when they're acting out at a story or they're doing puppets about a story.

And for many years that happened and then it disappeared like it happened. And then we had no way to remember it or recall it. But now with technology, you can... I find children are better photographers and videographers than I am.

So I like to just hand over my phone and say, "You take the video." And it honors their work and their brain power and their innovations that they make every day. And it shows them what you're doing is important.

And we may not speak the same language together, but I can see you are learning and I wanna capture it. And I wanna show it to you. I wanna show it to your family and that you know what's another thing about that though, Michael, thinking about what it's like when you're a parent in a new country, you're not very familiar with the language.

You have to bring your child to a preschool program or early childhood program and your child doesn't speak the language and you're dropping that baby off. And I say, baby, it could be a three year old, four year old, five year old, but you're dropping that child off. And they're gonna be all day in a place where they can't talk to people, they can't communicate with people.

And then as a parent, you have no idea what your child is going through. It's terrifying to think you don't understand the language, your child doesn't understand the language, but you're just dropping them off someplace and walking away.

But my goodness, if you could show that family a video of their child interacting or solving a problem or building something, imagine how that would change, that family's experience and their relationship to the school. So I think all those things are really important.

And we haven't really talked about anything about benchmarks or learning objectives or anything, or really just talking for more than an hour about the natural connections that happen when we use technology and developmentally appropriate, fun, engaging creative ways.

So I'm really liking this. It makes me wanna get, oh, look, here it is. Here's my examples. I see, I have "Draw and Tell" by "Duck Duck Moose" on my list. Oh, this is one bit I just wanted to share.

I worked for the office of Headstart in United States, the federal office that oversees some millions of children in preschool programs all across the United States.

And we developed an app called the "Ready DLL App" for teachers. The teacher can open it and they can see the learning standards for young children. They can see video examples of children who are dual language learners.

They get access to resources like links to recorded webinars or handouts or things like that. And they get word translations. And it has like the top five languages that are currently in those programs and gives them key words that they can use. So "Ready DLL App."

And I put the link at the top there because is available for free on Apple, on iPhone, iPads and also the Google Store. But I don't know, just because it's available in the United States, does that mean you can download it on a device in Australia?

I don't know, but we don't know who's watching, do we? We can people from all over, we don't know. And then we've talked about how the resources are used. Are they watched alone passively, or is the screen used for interactions? Which is a key component.

Do children have a chance to discuss what they're doing with the screen? Are subtitles used to help either if the child can read or if there's a helpful adult that could turn on subtitles to read to the child in the language that they speak? That's pretty rare though. Is the content relevant to the child?

So it's identifiable. And is it connected to the child's age, proper for the child's age? And this is an example of the research I told you about that shows that responsive interactions over video chat platforms do result in learning, but passive viewing of screens is less likely to result in language learning.

And so that's just more about that. In the rubric that I develop, these are just some questions that I always like people to ask. When they're deciding to buy an app or software, computer software platform, whatever, what languages are available, what is the complexity of language in the app?

Is it appropriate for the children? We don't want it to be too simple. It's not really gonna help children, if it says hello in 20 languages 'cause once you say hello, where's that conversation going? Where's that learning going? Nowhere.

So I want language I'm gonna actually use in play and learning, right? What language was it written in? Sometimes we have things that are written in English and then somebody tries to translate them, but they sound really awkward when they're translated. 'Cause we use slang just for expressions in English.

In English we use that word toddler and in America that it usually refers to children who are about one year old to two-years-old or one to two and a half. But in Spanish, there's no word for that age range. They talk about the ages.

They say, I have a one-year-old, a two-year-old, there's no word for toddler. So if I write a whole article about toddlers and you translate into Spanish, it doesn't sound right, 'cause there's no word for that. So these are the kinds of things.

Does the app comply with developmentally appropriate practice, which you talk about in your work all the time? Are the images culturally appropriate and free of stereotypes? That's something to look for.

And look is there a way to record the language which you and I just talked about? We wanna look for things that are proactive and include all children that with a universal design approach, we want things to have changeable images and content so that if we have girls that come to our program, that we're huggy, we want to be able to make sure the images include children.

I have a child that comes in the program, that's in a wheelchair. I want to be able to include images of children in wheelchairs. So images that can change or content that can change is very important.

Culturally rich and authentic, but things that are not chopped up. This is a question, not things that are not just bouncing all over the place. Like count these fruits, put these trumpets in a box, make the monkey jump three times. Those are not coordinated functions.

We want things that make sense, right? That there's responsiveness and even language learning apps, even apps that are designed to teach language should have content, not just memorizing words, right?

And so this is my quote from Fred Rogers. That of course now my... okay, no matter how helpful they are as tools and of course they can be very helpful tools. Computers don't begin to compare in significance to the teacher child relationship, which is human and mutual.

A computer can help you learn to spell H-U-G, but it can never know the... see I have to move all my screens. They can never know the risk or the joy of actually giving or receiving one.

So I always think that's a good quote to remember from somebody who seemed like he didn't care about technology, but actually showed us the path for high quality use of technology. So that is my PowerPoint. We did it.


- That was awesome, Karen.

- Well, thank you.


- That was awesome.


- And just wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart, for this opportunity to learn from you and to meet you. It's been so enlightening, and I do hope that we could catch up again sometime in the future.


- Well, clearly we have more to talk about than can be contained in one hour, but I think what was enlightening for me was that having just met you recently to discover how much developmentally appropriate practice and intentional use of technology turns out to be a real bond that connects people all over the world, as we're talking about teaching young children. So I've appreciated the work you're doing and getting to know more about that and feeling comfortable that this is all fitting together, that we are not all over the place. We are all following the same path for what's best for all children, every child, each child. And so I guess that's it, I guess it's been an hour and 15 minutes by now.



How to assess Language Development in Preschoolers?

Preschool language development is significant as during this phase of learning there are a number of key milestones.  


Between the ages of 4-5, young children should be able to:

  • Tell stories from start to finish and answer questions about those stories.
  • Put together more difficult sentences with conjoining words such as ‘if’, ‘and’, and ‘when’.
  • Understand and be able to carry out tasks said by others.



Young children can develop language skills through everyday digital experiences and as this is massively helped by learning through interaction, the natural capability of ICT resources enable young to interact and collaborate.


The use of ICT as a tool for communication can dramatically help language development for preschoolers. What are then the key milestones to look for that you can document and record?


According to Aussie Childcare Network, these consists of:

  • Understand the concepts (same and different).
  • Speaks in sentences of 6 or more words.
  • Asks a lot of questions.
  • Speaks clearly enough for others to understand.
  • Often ask the when, how and why questions.
  • Begins to use comparatives correctly (fast, faster, fastest).
  • Able to re-tell a story.
  • Repeats words with more syllables.
  • Enjoys engaging in pretend play.
  • Understand between two and three instructions.
  • Names familiar objects and animals.
  • Pays attention while listening to a story.
  • Correctly names and identifies shapes and colours.
  • Uses because and so correctly.
  • Speaks in sentences and uses many different words.
  • Answers simple questions.
  • Tells stories.
  • Talks constantly.
  • Enjoys talking and may like to experiment with new words.
  • Uses adult forms of speech.
  • Takes part in conversations.
  • Enjoys jokes, rhymes and stories.
  • Will assert self with words.
  • Pronunciation of words are clear.
  • Uses many descriptive words while talking.
  • Uses language to tease and tell jokes.
  • Understands sequence of events.
  • Overall speech should be grammatically correct.
  • Uses future tense.
  • Tells longer stories.
  • Says name and address.


These are the key milestones in preschool language development that may arise when integrating Information and Communication Technology in early childhood education.




Language development in early childhood education