This interview is in association with CONTENTshift, the accelerator program of the Association of the German Book Publishers & Booksellers. You can learn more here https://www.contentshift.de/.
The winners are announced on a live ceremony at the Frankfurt Book Fair each year https://www.buchmesse.de/en. The accelerator program aims to push the boundaries of publishing.
In this interview, Joe talks to Nataliya Natasha Tetruyeva (https://www.linkedin.com/in/natasha-tetruyeva-2024a84/) founder of eKidz.eu. eKidz.eu helps children to learn another language or improve the mastery of their own language.
You can learn more at www.ekidz.eu
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Announcer: Welcome to Startuprad.io; your podcast and YouTube blog, covering the German startup scene with news, interviews and live events.
Joe: Hello and welcome everybody, this is Joe from celebrated IO; your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany. This time I’m going at Frankfurt Book Fair, interviewing startups from the cognitive accelerator program. And I do have Natalia here, welcome.
Joe: And you are from which startup?
Natalia: I’m from eKidz.eu. We develop an interactive and intuitive world of languages for kids.
Joe: And we just talked about it before. So basically, it’s a tool to learn German if you’re a kid in a German school or if you want to learn German as a foreign language, right?
Natalia: Yeah. The tool or the program is really universal use so it allows kids in Germany to practice German, to practice reading strategies, and it allows kids outside of Germany to practice German as a language.
Joe: Okay. And how do you guys do that?
Natalia: So we try to guide the child and provide a very intuitive and simple and use environment. We offer content that we develop ourselves, it’s based on tried and tested methodologies that happen and use over 30 years in, for example, English language; and we develop an interface. It is very easy, simple but provides various features and various interaction with the language to give kids more opportunity to practice the language.
Joe: And when we talk before, you have several steps within this preparation program. Right?
Natalia: Yes. We develop nine levels of reading and we start with a simple structure of the sentence, where it is very repetitive. It’s called a pattern book. So we develop a learning of vocabulary out of context, it’s called immersive learning of a language. And it helps kids to visualize the particular vocabulary but also turn the sentence from the specific context. We cover different topics. So we provide fairy tales, nonfiction, fiction stuff, family stories so to get these experienced different genres of literature for kids. And then we build it up over the nine levels.
In the first level, it’s supposed to be when you start after you learn letters and learn how to combine letters into syllables and into words. And then you actually start combining these syllable words into sentences. And so we progress level by level and we bring the child to level nine, where it is already a longer book. And it provides more skills on the comprehension side and more skills on the reading proficiency.
Joe: Mm-hmm, that sounds pretty cool. And I just had in mind, when you’ve been talking about first forming letters and then syllables and stuff like this, I had in mind the elementary school students when they still paint the letters; that’s so cute. And what is your future? What are you going to do in the foreseeable future? What’s your outlook? What are you planning?
Natalia: So right now, we’ve got the first version of the program. It effectively offers the very core basic activities in reading, listening, comprehension, and answering questions on the books. And what we want to get it, we want to get our more cool features. Such as retelling of the story; such as reading and recording yourself so kids can realize how well they are actually reading the text.
And many times you talk to a boy and girl and they say: “Oh, I can do it. I can do it. I know all of it. Don’t bother practicing more.”
When they hear themselves reading a book aloud, they realize actually what they are lacking and they realize that they might need a little bit more practice and this practice come naturally. And our idea is that in the end, we would be able to provide them with a guided learning. So if you’re struggling in reading some of the structures of the language, we will provide you with more texts, based on this structure.
So we’re effectively going into AI and into developing their active learning algorithms. Where you are not taught but you are guided and you are guided to enhance your language skills.
Joe: And so far you’re only available for learning German, right?
Natalia: So our first program was the German language program because we’re based in Germany and we develop out of Germany. But we now are also developing an English program and we will be looking into Spanish very soon. So we want to develop a tool that would help out kids not just in the master term but also in learning foreign languages.
Joe: aah, muy bien. And just getting a little bit from the start up to the program, Content Shift offers 10,000 euros for the winners?
Joe: If you take just one step to the side, the viewers can see it. Ta-da! And how did it actually benefit you to be part of the program?
Natalia: I think the greatest benefit is what we say kids always need in their learning. So a kid that learns language needs great motivation. And this program gave us a very great motivation in developing further, in accessing new markets and in partnering up with new big players. And this is what our goal was. It’s very important for networking, it’s very important for a startup at the early stage, it’s important to find the right partner so that the growth can be accelerated and the market can be penetrated. Because in any digital program, it’s very important to reach the penetration. So if we are in 70% of German schools, we won the market.
Joe: Right. Well, the only thing for me left to say, good luck.
Natalia: Thank you.
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