Business Insider Edition

A new app is helping kids learn isiZulu - by making animals come to life

Jay Caboz , Business Insider SA
 Aug 10, 2019, 05:17 PM
  • A new app is helping kids learn isiZulu by making animals come to life through augmented reality.
  • Mukundi Lambani wants to make learning African languages fun, especially for families who feel they may have become disconnected from their traditional heritage.
  • The flash cards feature lions, chickens and other animals. They spring to life allowing you to hear their isiZulu pronunciation.


A new app is helping kids learn isiZulu - by making animals come to life through augmented reality (AR).

It’s made by Mukundi Lambani founder of Ambani, an African-language content platform for young learners, who are using technology to make education fun.

By transforming this set of 20 animal flashcards, Ambani is making them spring to life using a cellphone app. The cards feature lions, chickens and other wild and farm animals. In AR the cards spring to life allowing you to hear their isiZulu pronunciation.

Lambani spent 10 years in the South African film industry before moving into researching new media technology development for a Masters degree.

“Ambani was sparked by my personal experience and Master's research around South Africa's Model C [schools] and the first black cohort in the country to grow up detached from their ethnic languages and cultures, through being educated in previously white schools and moving into white neighbourhoods,” she said.

Lambani wants to make learning African languages fun, especially for families who feel they may have become disconnected from their traditional heritage.

Ambani
Ambani app. Source Ambani.

 “South Africa's Education System has many challenges: African-language speaking children have to drop their mother tongue or home language too soon, and learn in a language they do not understand. It is very difficult to learn a foreign language well enough to learn through it,” she said.

The company ultimately want to gamify other aspects of learning such as science, math, art and critical thinking subjects. She wants to make education a more whole, independent and accessible experience for young African learners.

“Over 50% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa do not understand what they read. A scarcity of books written in African languages, as well as a shortage of well-resourced school and community libraries.”

The APP is currently only in isiZulu. But, Lambani plans to introduce Kiswahili, Setswana, Tshivenda, Igbo, Shona over the next few weeks.

The cards sell for R60, and can be bought online on the Ambani website. The Ambani Africa app is available on both IOS and Android for free. 

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