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TEDxBayArea 12/08/11-Elsa Kim-Learning Language Through Motion


Translator: Cesar Guadarrama
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Hi, everyone. That’s loud! Imagine that you’re ten years old, you’re a little bit shorter
than you’re now, you’re a little bit less stylish, but you’re ten years old,
and you’re in Spanish class. So, welcome to Spanish class! We are going to learn a word today. That word is “run,” which in Spanish is “corre.” Can you repeat after me? “Corre.” Excellent! Now we are going to do that
20 thousand times. That’s the average number of words that people have
in their speaking vocabulary. All right! You’re still ten, we’re still in Spanish class, let’s try something
a little bit different. Let’s try playing a game
that you may remember from your childhood, called “Simon says.” If you don’t remember the rules,
there’s one basic rule: I’ll say “Simon says” and then an action. You’ll have to repeat after me, but only if I say “Simon says.” Let’s try it. Simon says, “Stand up.” “Sit down.” Simon didn’t say! (Laughter) Get up! Simon says, “Nada.” Simon says, “Anda en bicicleta.” Simon says, “Corre.” Simon says, “You just won a track award.” Oh my God! Congratulations everyone. Simon says, “You can take a seat.” As a ten year old, which learning experience
did you enjoy more? The first one. We think language learning flashcards
are a great way to learn, but we think we can improve them by actually mapping the words
that are being described to the motions being performed
and that way learn by doing. For the first time in history, we have the actual
technological capability to do this. Last year, Microsoft launched
a brand new device called the Kinect. The Kinect contains a 3D infrared sensor that can map the entire room
and the bodies within it. When Judy first saw this this device, she came up with this brilliant idea
for a flashcard language learning game that would incorporate motion. She brought this idea to startup weekend
a couple of weeks ago, and startup weekend
is exactly what it sounds like: it’s one weekend
on which you pitch an idea; develop the business plan; come up with a prototype; and demo it to a panel of judges
and about 20 competing teams. We spent the whole weekend
developing the basic unit, the basic flashcard
that we would use to build this game. It’s just like the game of “Simon says:” you hear the word, the bear on the screen performs the word, and then the player is supposed
to repeat that action back to the bear. Let’s watch a video
of Judy performing this demo. [The bear teaches her the word “JUMP”] (Cheering) Elsa Kim: As you can see we were ecstatic
that it actually worked. (Laughter) Our team is comprised of Judy, myself and three team members
who are here with us today: Lucas, Jen and James. (Applause) We are a pretty diverse
set of individuals, but what brings us together
is this real passion for innovating at the intersection
of education and technology. We think that there is
incredible potential available with the virtual environments
that you can create with a Kinect. We are really enthusiastic about exploring
all of those possibilities. In order to do that,
we also have to explore this belief that we share that children should not just
be learning skills and knowledge – while those are important – we really want children and everyone
to develop into life long learners. Here is why. We were among the first generation of kids to grow up with computers
and the Internet; we’re what they call Digital Natives. While our parents might not be
as comfortable with the idea of having computers and the Internet
being just an extension of your mind, we’re actually really comfortable
with this thought. We’re actually really comfortable
with this idea that the Internet is becoming this aggregation
of all human knowledge. While knowledge and skills
are still very important, there’s a shift that we need to see happen
towards creativity, critical thinking and tenacity. That is: the creativity
to come up with a project; the critical thinking to be able
to figure out what we need to develop, and how we need
to build the team to get there; and the tenacity to google
the hell out of it and spend hours learning
what we need to learn. How do we make ourselves
life long learners, if this is the goal? We think that there’s always
been this dichotomy between learning
that happens in the classroom, which is boring and serious –
you’re sitting down, taking notes – and the playground, where you go and play games
and you have fun. But there are actually
some really interesting similarities that we can draw out,
between learning and games. Let’s take the game
we played at the beginning, “Simon says,” and compare that
to something like math class. First of all, it’s a social environment
with a very clear set of rules: in “Simon says” you should do
what Simon says. And in math class you learn reading –
you don’t learn reading! – (Laughter) You learn addition, subtraction,
multiplication and division. What’s more, there are win states
and there are lose states. In “Simon says:” if you do
what Simon says, you win. In math, if one plus one equals two, not four, you’re doing good. However, there’s one critical difference
between games and the classroom, and that is, if you’ve ever played a game,
you know there’s always an escape key. There’s always a re-start button, there’s always a secret extra
one-up life hidden somewhere. This just doesn’t exist in the classroom. But humans need to be able
to fail in order to learn. Think about it. We try something, we fall down,
we get up, brush ourselves off, figure out exactly what went wrong,
and try something new. We do this all the time as entrepreneurs. I learned the value of failure, first hand from my dad, who I consider
the epitome of a life long learner. As a middle aged Korean man,
he loved learning Italian. So, he would bring his family – me, ten year old me,
my sister and my mother – to Italian restaurants
and try to order in Italian. (Laughter) “Bongiorno,” “linguine con vongole!” (Laughter) Yeah! The waiter would laugh at my dad, my dad would laugh back,
and then he would keep on going. (Laughter) This was the most mortifying thing
that a ten year old me could experience, but he kept on going,
and what I learned looking back on that is that the reason
he was such a great learner, and ended up actually learning Italian, is because he was not afraid
to put himself out there, fall flat on his face,
look kind of ridiculous, and try again. Most of us are not as bold as my dad, and most of us don’t find
embarrassing ourselves in public as much fun as my dad does. So, what can we do to make
learning a language fun, engaging, and to make it an experience that kids
and all of us will want to come back to? That’s where “Words with Bears” comes in. Let’s just walk through
how this might happen: an example “Words with Bears” game. Turn on the Kinect,
you see a virtual room. There’s a hat, a piano and a cat. Your friend the bear says, “Hi, let’s go to the park. Would you like to put on your hat?” You don’t really know English that well, so you check out the hat,
and the piano, and the cat, and you go for the cat,
and you put it on your head. Now if this was real life,
the worst thing that could happen is that you get a couple of cat scratches
on your face and a really pissed off cat. But since this is a virtual environment,
the worst that can happen is that the bear
is a little bit upset at you, and you keep on trying,
and eventually you learn the word. This is just one example
of the ideas that we’ve come up with. With virtual environments you can enable
all kinds of learning experiences. You could teach the words for vegetables
by creating a virtual soup. You can learn the names for animals
by going to a virtual zoo. This is just a little bit
of what we’re coming up with, and we really think
that the possibilities are wide open. So, we want to invite you to come with us
on our journey, as we explore. We are “Words with Bears.” Thank you. (Applause)

13 Replies to “TEDxBayArea 12/08/11-Elsa Kim-Learning Language Through Motion”

  • I wonder why she picked a language she can't pronounce well for her examples. She can't make the Spanish rr sound, and she said "nara" instead of "nada" (the American d sound is almost identical to the Spanish r sound; the Spanish d sound does not exist in English)

  • Hi everyone! I'm interesting in improve my english skills. So, i'm looking for someone to make a friendship, of course, and also to practice. Then, let's change experience and help each other. My Skype account is mauriciomag. See you there.

  • Did any of you gripers get anything out of what she was trying to teach you?  You've criticized her pronunciation, her vocabulary, her clothes, her style, her billboard, and one of you killed her off.  What did you learn?  Yes, I realize, you needed all that hate-practice.  I hope you got your fill of it and the next clip you watch, you can be more agreeable.

  • I get that she doesn't say it like native but if she can express her feelings with an accent or not who cares. Plenty of people speak languages regularly they don't sound like a native in. Also, I have plenty of Latina friends who actually cannot roll their r's. No matter how hard they try and they have grown up in Latin America.

  • they all comment horribly bc they have no life. it makes them feel good to dwn someone else. try to overachieve instead of overhate or hate at all. the key to change is recognizing the bs in yourself!!!!

  • they all comment horribly bc they have no life. it makes them feel good to dwn someone else. try to overachieve instead of overhate or hate at all. the key to change is recognizing the bs in yourself!!!

  • In fact, she invented nothing new. you can switch skirim to 7 different laguages and hunt dragons in italian, for example. buon pommerigio.

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