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Phone app generating lots of positive talk

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A Winnipeg software company has created a one-of-a-kind, award-winning app to help children learn how to speak.

Tiga Talk was developed with licensed speech and language pathologists to help children who are just beginning to speak learn how to make 23 core phonetic sounds through playful voice-controlled games. The games help to improve speech clarity and articulation, according to one of the app’s chief developers.

It is based on the popular Aboriginal People’s Television Network children’s television series about a wolf pup (played by a hand puppet) who stays with his friends, Jodie and Jason, and their father and grandmother.

"(It’s) a confidence-building app," said Kevin Glasier, of Tactica Interactive, which is located at 248 Princess St.

The game remains positive, never criticizing children for making the "wrong" sound, added the Wolseley resident, who also noted that by encouraging children to make the sounds of driving cars, rockets launching and balloons popping, the interactive game will have kids "SP-ing" and

"CH-ing" in no time at all.

The app is receiving rave reviews from professional language learning specialists.

"As a speech language pathologist this is by far the best speech app out there," says Robin Rudin, a speech and language pathologist from Scottsdale, Ariz., who is quoted on the company’s website.

"I love it because it is like bio feedback. I am using it with some of my school age kids who have significant muscle strength issues including dysarthria (Down syndrome and genetic disorders). They are so motivated to get it right. It is so valuable for the characters to tell them that they aren’t heard. Volume and precise production are issues that this game really addresses. The kids improve significantly in a short time."

Vanessa Loewen, a producer of Tiga Talk, said that APTN partnered with Tactica on this project because it was a great concept for pre-school children to learn about aboriginal culture and language.

"We include words in aboriginal languages and in English in every show," she said. "The show speaks to all children. For me as a producer, there’s nothing more valuable than to have this technological follow through."

Meanwhile, Glasier observes that this current app is a sequel to a previous iPhone app that was also made for Tiga Talk.

"The app is available in Cree, and it’s got a lot of cultural references to First Nations people. It’s also  great for parents and speech therapists working with toddlers and children with language delays, as well as any parent looking to give their child a head start in early language development," he said.

Martin Zeilig is a Garden City-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Times area and would like to contribute to this column, contact jim.timlick@canstarnews.com.

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