Getting to know Gaia Learning’s Head of English and Languages
It’s no secret that I’m a language enthusiast. I always have been. I’m also a passionate educationalist advocating to reduce hurdles for any individual requiring a different path. That path is frequently facilitated by the correct channels of communication and expression, which is paramount to any learner, any age, anywhere, in any language. For neurodivergent children, being able to access learning in the format, language, size, font, coloured background, and theme that they require, is undoubtedly a complete game changer - hence my excitement about Gaia Learning’s new Recite Me feature!
A bit of background - Why should you trust my judgement on language tools?
My own language learning journey began 30 years ago when I was just eight years old. I literally begged my monolingual parents to take me to a French class after school! As it turned out, I was destined to become a linguist, with an insatiable curiosity to enhance my language learning outside the classroom. I would tune my radio to catch French weather reports, and seek books and videos in French and German, (which I also studied for many years to come). These days I am able to offer my students a vast, vibrant, and infinitely varied bank of resources, apps and even AI tools to bring language learning to life.
The Recite Me toolbar unlocks limitless potential by removing a multitude of barriers which may inevitably hinder language learning and development, namely for those navigating neurodiversity. My personal experience would undoubtedly have benefitted from flexible courses and such advanced features, especially when I intensely (and relatively independently) learnt Spanish between sixth form and university.
How will the Recite Me toolbar revolutionise learning for neurodivergent learners?
My linguistic journey was incredible, but also long and laborious. I learnt alone so much of the time, when the resources just weren’t there to support my learning style, or I simply needed to do it ‘my way’. I didn’t always fit in, and struggled to evade bullies throughout my education - school was hard enough, without the added pressures of non-inclusive learning aids or adaptive assistance. Over the years, I have taught countless children who are unquestionably square pegs forced into round holes. They are trapped within the walls of a system inept to cater for their needs - one that does not allow educators the time and means to explore differences.
But, imagine the difference today, with Gaia Learning’s flexible courses, interactive classroom, and online research tools, all available with instant translation, integrated dictionaries, and text-to-speech capabilities… As a teacher and tutor, I think back to the many families who have desperately needed my support over the years, as they navigated undiagnosed conditions, neurodivergent brains and other additional learning needs. I have always done my best to bring the magic, to make things easier, and to put happiness first - but my goodness, we really do have the superpowers to help on another level now, and I’m here for it!
The Recite Me toolbar allows screen reading, multiple reading aids, customisable styling options, and an on-demand live translation feature, which supports over 100 languages, including 65 text-to-speech and styling options.
The new addition to Gaia Learning’s comprehensive suite of learning resources ensures that every learner can access online content and services in a way that best compliments their individual needs, regardless of disability, learning difficulty, visual impairment, or language.
Kirstin Coughtrie, Head of Innovation at Gaia Learning, describes the potential global impact of integrating the Recite Me toolbar:
"The inclusion of language translation is particularly exciting as it renders our personalised curriculum accessible to parents, educators, and learners from across the globe. This not only opens up Gaia Learning courses to markets everywhere but also fosters cohesive conversations about learning amongst all stakeholders, irrespective of their geographical location."
I wholeheartedly share Kirstin’s enthusiasm and future visions for the dynamism and limitless possibilities that the orientation of such language features may offer learners. Whilst my own linguistic experience may have been fuelled by a desire to achieve multilingualism, and to enjoy the world’s geographical and cultural wonders, for others, language tools may be the key to access learning in any capacity at all. I look forward to keeping you posted on my own son’s neurodivergent thinking as his Gaia Learning pathway evolves - did I mention that my children are currently trilingual? Perhaps that’s a story for another day…
If you are in search of a comprehensive learning partner for your child, whether as support for their current schooling, a hybrid educational approach, individual support, or an alternative method, we invite you to reach out to us. We are continuously broadening our horizons and welcoming collaborations with additional schools and academy trusts, to bring world-class education to more neurodivergent learners.