Live Learning v.s Asynchronous Learning, which one is better for preschool children?

Written on

September 24, 2019

Written by
Toby
Founder & CEO

What is asynchronous social learning, and does it suit my child?


Social learning - what is it?

Social learning means learning with - and from - other people. Social learning works at every age, but is especially effective for children, who are naturally good at learning new things in their early years.


Children can learn 'socially' from adults (teachers, parents), but learn even more effectively from other children, with whom they identify most. Social learning can happen in a group situation, like a physical classroom. But most teachers don't encourage enough small group activities for it to be effective; children spend most of their time sitting in rows, listening silently. And for pre-school children, especially quieter or less confident kids, classrooms aren't suitable: the noise and scariness of a classroom is too much, or they are too young to attend.


For kids learning English, Maths, Chinese, or other key skills, social learning is the best way for them to learn the foundations of the topic - even more effective, in fact, than simply having private lessons with a tutor, where the social element is lacking, and there are no other children to learn with and from.

In recent years, new types of online social learning have been emerging that allow every child, even toddlers from 2 years old, to begin experiencing social learning at home. 

Online learning for toddlers might sound like a strange idea, but with asynchronous social learning, toddlers can begin by watching examples from teachers or other children, and learning to copy them, making learning progress very quickly and naturally.

And using screens doesn't reduce the learning impact; to quote Dr Sarah Roseberry Little of the University of Washington, "social partners enhance learning, even from screens." (source: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/40/9859)

In the online social learning world, two types of social learning are emerging: live social learning, and asynchronous social learning. Let's explore both.

Live social learning for kids


Live social learning, for example a live group English class with other children, is suitable for children over the age of 6, who already have a strong base of knowledge in the topic. For example, group English classes for 7 year olds with a good level of basic English is a suitable path, although it is expensive.


For children under the age of 6, or total beginners, live online teaching is too difficult:

it requires a foundation in English (the teacher won't speak your child's mother tongue), but also is an awkward, scary format for a younger child (for example, kids ages 2-6) because they have to talk, live, to a total stranger. The risk is making your child feel scared of the topic they are learning, rather than fall in love with it. 

So how do toddlers, or beginners in a topic, take advantage of social learning, build confidence, and fall in love with the new skill? This is where asynchronous social learning is the most useful, educational format.

Asynchronous social learning for kids

Asynchronous social learning means learning from other children, but without a live conversation. Your child can see questions or examples from children of their age or experience level, and then reply, imitate, or react.

There are many benefits to this asynchronous (non-live) learning style:

  1. Your child can open the content or class whenever is convenient to them and mum or dad. Need to change times, or skip a day? Nothing missed, no money wasted.
  2. Your child can take their time to reply, and practise several times. In a live class, the pressure to respond is immediate, making younger children confused or scared.
  3. Your child is safe: parents can approve the connections, or check the content, before their child learns. In a live class, you never know what your child will see or hear.
  4. Learning is faster and more interactive: in a live class, time is wasted on low-efficiency activities, or lots of children are participating, meaning less interaction for your child.

In the past, this style of asynchronous social learning was impossible - it was hard to connect with other families to learn with, or send learning messages or videos. New technology, like smartphones and 4G/5G, have changed that; with a mum or dad supervising, and a smartphone or tablet, children can now learn from teachers and other children around the world in an asynchronous, social way.

Learning English asynchronously

Asynchronous social learning is a new learning method, and it's making learning English possible for adults and young children.

For adults, apps like Tandem, Busuu, or Liulishuo in China allow adults to learn from each other and correct each others' mistakes, without requiring a live video connection. This reduces the costs and increases the efficiency of learning.

For children aged 2-6, Lingumi is an online platform where children learn from their teacher from England, and from other little friends from around the world, without the complexity or cost of a live classroom. By replying to questions in their own time, and seeing examples from their teacher or other children, young learners feel confident to reply, can practise their answers, and can learn when they feel like it. It's a totally new form of learning, developed by Lingumi over the last 3 years in our London office.

How does Lingumi design their Social learning platform in an asynchronous way?

How it works

The Lingumi app is the first asynchronous social learning platform for kids English learning. Designed for families with kids aged 2-6, Lingumi helps children to learn to speak English with Teacher Toby, from England.


Instead of the pressure of a live classroom, children can see an introductory video from Teacher Toby each day in their lesson, which lasts 10 minutes. Then they play interactive games to learn vocabulary, phrases, or train their pronunciation. At the end of each lesson, children can see a question from Teacher Toby, and reply in a voice recording or video. Parents can see their child’s progress over time more easily, and it’s much more affordable than private or group live classes.


Virtual Classroom

In the Lingumi app, parents and their kids can visit a Classroom to find or add little friends from at home, or other countries, and see their friends' videos and replies in each lesson. This gives them the confidence to also reply, or show them how to do it. Your child can have a 'big sister' from England, or add a little friend from their everyday life to practise with.

Daily asynchronous video practice tasks

In the Classroom, and in each lesson, your child will unlock tasks each day that advance their English speaking skills, from speaking individual words, to forming whole phrases over time.

Community & Group Learning (FB/ LINE / WeChat/ WhatsApp)

Lingumi families are also a big community, communicating and learning from each other in our community groups on Facebook, LINE, and Whatsapp. All the groups are free, and our Facebook group is the biggest kids English learning community in Taiwan with more than 5,000 members.


About the author

Toby Mather:


Lingumi’s CEO, and a Modern Languages graduate from Oxford University, Toby laid the theoretical foundations for Lingumi and designs the Teacher Toby speaking course in the app.

Lingumi is a fast-growing EdTech company with a mission to make English learning fun, affordable and effective for the next billion young learners.

Our focus in Teacher Toby's course is speaking English. Following the theory of social-pragmatic language usage, your child will complete hundreds of 'Speaking Practice' tasks, replying to Toby's video questions, and hearing replies from other children to gradually improve their English.