View the original article by Osman Husain on Dec 2, 2016 in
Caryn Antonini believes it’s crucial for children to be bilingual. She’s of the view that learning languages imparts cognitive benefits as well as social and material ones which come into play in an increasingly globalized, interdependent world.
Her views are backed up by science. Studies have shown the benefits of bilingualism, outlining how it forces the brain to strengthen its cognitive muscles, making people mentally alert and guarding against dementia.
That’s why Caryn started Early Lingo, an educational games startup that wants to give children an opportunity to learn foreign languages from an early age.
Early Lingo’s apps include interactive games, lessons, and written tests. Children use what she refers to as a ‘guided learning experience,’ where new adventures are unlocked only after they pass certain achievements. They’re designed for children ages 3 to 9 years old and are available in Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English, with support for Chinese coming soon.
Caryn’s a serial entrepreneur. She used to run a translation company but left after deciding it wasn’t creative and challenging enough. Her next task was to start a high-end gift business catering to the entertainment industry.
After five years of glitz and glamor serving clients like George Clooney and Madonna, she decided to do something more meaningful. Hence the decision to start Early Lingo in 2011.
“Early Lingo’s mission is to see that our future generation is multilingual and globally aware […] We aim to teach children around the world communication, compassion, and respect. Language is the best conduit to globalism as people are more apt to be accepting of other cultures if they speak the same language,” says Caryn.
The startup’s based out of the US – New York to be precise – but has distribution partners in South Korea and the UAE. It’s also in advanced discussions with local school administrators to introduce the apps in classes and make it part of the teaching curriculum. Caryn says interest is drumming up from Japan, China, and other parts of Asia.
Early Lingo’s published a total of nine apps so far with 60,000 active users. It’s a self-financed company and hasn’t accepted any outside investment yet.
Caryn adds that the team’s witnessed some powerful learning outcomes. The gamification aspect adds to the thrill and intrigue, with students striving to compete with each other and unlock new levels.
“They don’t even realize that they’re learning while playing,” she smiles. “It’s the ideal scenario.”
Future plans are to continue building more products, adding new languages, and scaling to all parts of the globe.
“This is truly my life’s calling – my mission is to see that our future generations are multilingual and globally aware. For such a small investment, I believe parents can give their children an incredible advantage in life by giving the gift of language,” asserts Caryn.