New mobile app will help children read and write in Ilocano

BAGUIO CITY — An Ilocano language expert, members of the academic community, and Smart Communications are now working on a mobile application that will teach children to speak, read, and write in the Ilocano language.

The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili are now collaborating with Smart in developing the Sanut Ilocano, a digital learning app. It has for categories: numbers, letters, nursery songs, and stories.

The app will teach children how to count in Ilocano, sing Ilocano songs, and read stories in Ilocano such as Ni Pag-ong ken Sunggo (The Turtle and the Monkey) and Ni Ugsa ken Bissukol (The Deer and the Snail).

The app will also feature animated shows featuring the kalesa, windmills, churches, light towers, and the region’s scenic locations, Lee Carlos Simon of the MMSU said during the recent 13th Nakem (an Ilocano term for wisdom or level of maturity) conference held in Baguio City.

For her part, Agcoili will ensure the proper use of the Ilocano language in the app.

The learning app is part of Smart’s “School in a Bag” program, which provides a laptop for the teacher, tablets for students, a pocket WiFi, an LED projector, and a solar panel for schools that do not have electricity, according to Kristine Joyce Magadia of Smart Communications.

“The project hopes to help address the lack of learning materials for children in the local languages,” Magadia said, adding that kindergarten teachers are currently using audio-visual materials in English translated in the local language.

In 2015, Smart digitized the content of a Filipino children’s show Batibot, which became the first Filipino app for children in the country. 

For this project, Smart worked with the Department of Education DepEd), local governments, universities and colleges, and other experts. She said that the output is to be given to schools for free. 

“We hope to launch Sanut Ilocano sometime in the third quarter of this year,” she said. 

Similar apps under development include those tailored for indigenous peoples’ groups in Mindanao such as the Matigsalug, B’laan, and Tagkaulo, the Ta’allam (Learning Arabic) in Saranggani, and Kaalam in Cebu which they hope to launch this June. — Aldwin Quitasol

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