Early literacy learning is the foundation of success at school. Children with learning difficulties are at particular risk for early reading problems. This sets course for an uphill battle in their further education and career. While most parents anxiously cram their kids with supplementary exercises and extra lessons with native speakers, those from lower income families neither have the resources nor sufficient support from schools. Besides, traditional language learning could be pretty boring, honestly.
Prof Catherine McBride is setting up Cayan Educational Design Limited to promote bilingual learning in a fun, relaxed and creative way with Bumper Cards. This is based on her 15 years of research which proved compounding skill (i.e. the ability in forming compound words) to be fundamental in learning to read and developing vocabulary in Chinese and English. Each card has a Chinese character or English word; players group together two or more cards each time to form actual compound words, or non-existent words for which they can come up with an explanation. The card game would be introduced to schools, learning centres and NGOs as an affordable alternative in early childhood education.
The team promotes interactive language learning via a fun and economical game, especially for disadvantaged children. An electronic version will however not be launched because face-to-face contact in the game is essential for children’s development, and an effective means in fostering connections in families. Children should not be afraid of mistakes when playing Bumper Cards. The peculiar vocabulary they come up with is a showcase of their creativity and imagination —valuable qualities that are hard to come by via conventional education.
Children aged 3-8 from low-income families
Catherine is a professor of developmental psychology with a focus on reading development and impairment across cultures. She has served as an editor for multiple academic journals and is a Fellow for the Association for Psychological Science. She is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and the founding President for the Association for Reading and Writing in Asia. Catherine received her PhD from the University of Southern California.