The first children’s educational app entirely in Maltese has been created with the aim of immersing two- to five-year-olds into the language through fun games.

Called Nina u Ninu, the app is entirely locally created and voiced over by Maltese people with an authentic Maltese intonation.

“Children spend a lot of time on screens nowadays and the bulk of it is in English. We noticed that there was a gap in the market and we wanted to create something in Maltese – something that is first and foremost educational and creative,” said Francesca Mifsud, founder of Island Bébé that created the app.

A screenshot of the app

A screenshot of the app

Colouring a whale

Colouring a whale

Learning the Maltese alphabet

Learning the Maltese alphabet

“Also, kids are very tech savvy nowadays, so we wanted to create something that reaches their expectations,” she said, adding that the development team worked with experienced Maltese content writers.

The app currently offers five games related to learning words about animals. Children are exposed to games re-enforcing the alphabet, numbers, pronunciation, image-matching and colouring in.

Times of Malta tested the app out on two children.

A six-year-old girl said she liked it and appeared to be picking up vocabulary through it. “Look at my cute qarnita [octopus] mummy, I coloured it rainbow,” she said as she added that “this makes learning Maltese words fun.”

A three-and-a-half-year-old boy also appeared to rapidly engage with the app and learned how it functioned without requiring instructions. 

His mother told Times of Malta she appreciated the fact that the app pronounced Maltese words for the user. She thinks the app will also help her child improve his motor skills, as it requires children to write and trace letters and numbers. 

She was less enthused by the choice of fonts in the app, noting inconsistencies between the way letters were written between the app's keyboard and other parts of the app. 

Nina u Ninu will be introducing new games each month. Themes will include space, summer, food, colours and shapes.

Nina u Ninu seeks to expose children to Maltese while they are having fun so they don’t even realise they are learning,” Mifsud said.

The app is available to download on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It works on tablets and mobile phones. It can be downloaded at a cost of €7.99.

Asked why the payment, Mifsud said that quality content creation came at a cost. The price was small compared to other books and educational material. Unlike other platforms, she added, Nina u Ninu did not include adverts, making it a safe space for children.

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