As an international PYP school, we cater to many non-English speakers. To encourage some of these non-native English speakers to participate and engage with the class community in Early Years, we introduced an app called Furry Friend.
This interactive app is great for engaging young students in simple play and conversation. Students can play independently with Leonard, using the iPad to tickle him, blow bubbles (while he pops them), and even put him to sleep. However, the most useful feature of the app is that he repeats what is said to him. As soon as students figured out he could talk back, they were trying out all sorts of words and phrases. This encouraged non-native English speakers to either copy what classmates were saying or try some phrases they were beginning to learn. One Russian speaker was especially enchanted when he found out Leonard could mimick Russian back to him.
As with all other apps in the Early Years classroom, it is best used with teacher guidance so students are using it purposefully and not simply to play by themselves on the iPad. We set aside about 20 minutes for them to have a go. One teacher also used it to engage her class during a Morning Meeting and projected Leonard onto the whiteboard using AirPlay.