Gamified learning solutions make learning Spanish interactive and fun – GrepBeat
Whenever Sherin Keys told people she was a Spanish teacher, she invariably got the same response: “I took two years of Spanish and all I remember is ‘Puedo ir al baño ‘.” ?
Keys said they often say they can read a little, but can’t converse well at all.
The state of Spanish education in the United States got Keys thinking. Shouldn’t there be a fun way to help students learn and maintain their Spanish skills? Enter Gamified Learning Solutions, a startup she created in Raleigh last year to foster greater engagement and learning in the Spanish language. Gamified Learning Solutions is participating in the current cohort of the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) in Raleigh.
As a teacher, she always enjoyed creating learning games for her students, but Gamified Learning has taken it to the next level with its product, GabbLabb.
“Spanish is the most taught foreign language (in the United States), but a lot of us still struggle with it,” Keys said. “You look at it and the pieces start to fit together. What were my challenges when I was learning? What are the common issues of students? Looking at it, I realized that we weren’t using all of our tools.
Before Keys taught Spanish in North Carolina, she was actually a licensed lawyer from New Jersey who, around the time the Great Recession hit in 2008-09, recognized that her true calling was to teach and impact children.
As a teacher, Keys understood that most students don’t have the opportunity to practice Spanish in a real setting. Without it, they could pass a test but are unable to communicate with native Spanish speakers.
But now, in a 2D game environment, students will be able to choose a character and complete tasks that require Spanish conversation skills. Maybe you’re visiting grandma’s house or going to school, but no matter the situation, the player has a mission incorporating real-life scenarios and conversation in Spanish.
For students of a competitive nature, it is helpful for players to be able to acquire tokens and track their position on a leader board relative to other people playing.
The game is still in development, but they hope to replace a language lab in schools, Keys said. In order to achieve this goal, Keys is looking to raise $250,000.
As education evolves in the 21st century, Gamified Learning Solutions points to a bigger shift: Immersive, technology-based experiences are replacing traditional textbook learning.
As a first-time founder, Keys said she learned from listening to other founders about the importance of being ready to pivot and staying open to new knowledge. If you marry an idea too soon, it can cause you to miss an opportunity.
“As a founder, I would say it’s okay to be wrong as long as you keep trying to get it right,” Keys said.
For Gamified Learning Solutions, that meant taking its time when discovering customers and growing the business, Keys added.
“Because COVID hit and we were in the initialization and conceptualization phase, it really allowed us to slow down and take this time to think about what we want to build,” Keys said.
Gamified Learning Solutions is still working on building its gaming offering as it enters the RIoT Accelerator program this summer. The connections they make here will help them serve the community and fix any issues in the first product, Keys said.
“It’s just exciting to be able to work with such an established organization that is focused on the business we want to grow,” said Keys. “It’s not necessarily one size fits all.”
Currently, Gamified Learning Solutions has an agreement with the Cumberland County (NC) World Language Department to pilot the software once it is ready. And that’s just the beginning of their mission to accelerate Spanish language learning across the state and beyond, Keys said.
“We have educators who are wonderful educators, but how do you make it relevant for learners? Keys says. “How do you make it fun?” It’s easy to take the fun out of learning.