A learning app for Cebuano language and culture

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Young Cebuanos can now learn about the Cebuano language, culture, and folklore through a fun mobile application that uses their mother tongue.

PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications and its partners recently launched the Kaalam app, which can be downloaded for free on Google Play.

The literacy app — which was developed through partnerships among Smart, the local government of Argao in Cebu, Department of Education (DepEd) in Cebu province and Cebu city, Cebu Technological University-Argao (CTU-Argao), and University of Cebu-Banilad Campus (UC Banilad) — is aligned with the DepEd’s mother tongue-based multilingual education. Studies show that children learn better when they are taught using the language most familiar to them.

The Argao local government and CTU-Argao provided content for the app, which included local folktale. This content was then digitized by UC Banilad students. Smart took care of app development.

The Kaalam app was previewed during the Gabii sa Kabilin sa Argao or Night of Heritage in Argao last May. During the event, Cebu vice governor Agnes Magpale marveled at how the app uses the latest in technology to preserve old customs and stories, and to ensure that Cebuano tradition and heritage are kept alive among the youth. She called the Kaalam app “a beautiful blend” of the old and new.

Meanwhile, Argao mayor Stanley Caminero said the app was a way of laying claim to town folklore and getting the stories right. “I don’t want the young people of Argao to hear about the legend of Maria Cacao from another place and not realize it is our story.”

He added that the app would make easier for young kids to learn the Cebuano language.

Meanwhile, Smart Public Affairs senior manager Stephanie Orlino said the Kaalam app is part of Smart’s larger efforts to help develop literacy apps in different local languages.

“Aside from studies showing that children learn better when they are taught using their mother tongue, there is also research showing that the managed use of digital learning tools and content can improve their literacy skills and heighten their interest in learning.

This is why we have partnered with different local government units, schools, and developers to create literacy apps in different local languages,” she said.

So far, Smart and its partners have worked on apps in Arabic, Ilocano, and indigenous languages. For more information on Smart’s efforts to use technology for development, visit the Smart Communities page on Facebook.