Want to raise multilingual kids? “Teseem – First Words” is here to help

Tesem

Teseem – First Words is a new android app that wants to help you raise multilingual children. Designed for young children aged 1 – 5 years, Teseem helps kids learn Nigerian languages right from their first words.

Featuring a colourful and engaging interface, the app currently teaches kids colours, numbers and body parts in three major Nigerian languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The dream is to expand to include other Nigerian and African languages.

Teseem was founded by Elizabeth Kperrun Eremie who also founded Afro Talez, the African storytelling app. Teseem is part of the first group of startups incubated by Ventures Platform, the incubation and co-working space located in Abuja, Nigeria. It received an undisclosed amount in seed funding and this was used to launch the application on October 21, 2016.

Teesem is a Tiv word which means “Teach Me”. So the app’s name is essentially “Teach me – My first words”. Founder and creative director, Elizabeth says “Our focus in whatever we do is to create educational content that empowers African women and children”

The app is still pretty bare with just a few words available in the colour, number and body parts categories. My first impression is that it still needs a bit of work in addition to the expected content updates.

For example, in the body part category, the learning companion, a cartoon character, demonstrates each body part as it is pronounced. So when the narrator says “atelese” which means “sole of the foot” in Yoruba, the character flexes his foot. Easily understandable for me because I speak Yoruba, but surely confusing for a non-speaker. A simple inclusion of the English version of words would solve the problem.

Notice how atelese is also misspelt?

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We’ve heard enough conversations about how we are losing our culture due to the death of language. The younger generation is simply not learning to speak their parent’s languages. Apps like Teseem, if properly executed, would go a long way in solving this problem by providing an engaging platform for children to learn indigenous languages.