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Students in Tanzania work on learning English and Chinese with Sphero indi in their classroom.

Contributed by Adam Hill. 

When I arrived in Tanzania to discuss a volunteering opportunity, I had no idea that it would lead to me teaching Chinese or that Sphero indi would play such a key role. Now back in the UK, I find myself reflecting on this wonderful experience.

I applied to volunteer at Turnbull Tech Training College in Tanzania, expecting to teach English and technology. As a STEM specialist and consultant, I have many exciting resources that I planned to take with me. Two days before the trip, however, I realised that the school does not have internet access. Actually, this is very typical in Tanzania and other parts of the world. My assumption that internet access is commonplace came from a position of privilege, I now realise. For the first time in my teaching career, I had to consider which activities and resources would work offline. I packed my Sphero indi kit, suspecting that an opportunity would arise for some indi fun at some point!

I was hosted by the school’s founder and principal, Mr. Daudi Kingalata. On my arrival, we had a fascinating discussion about the school, the students, and how I might be able to help. Daudi realised that I worked in China previously and learnt Mandarin Chinese during my time there. He explained that many of his students are working towards careers in travel and tourism, and so exposure to new languages is really important. He excitedly suggested that I teach Chinese because it’s a language that students rarely get the opportunity to learn. I left China last year so I felt a little rusty, but I was very happy to brush up on my Chinese and prepare an introductory course.

One of the lessons focused on colours. I seized the opportunity to integrate Sphero indi since the robot is driven by colour. I know from experience that students love indi! It seems to bring joy and laughter to every lesson! But I also know that it is a valuable learning resource that can enhance students’ understanding of direction, space, commands, angles, and more. In addition to colours, I took the opportunity to teach Chinese vocabulary relating to these topics.

Below is the vocabulary that I wanted to reinforce in this activity.








hóng sè de 红色的


zuǒ biān 左边


huáng sè de 黄色的


yòu biān 右边


chéng sè 橙色



lán sè de 蓝色的


kuài 快


lǜ sè de 绿色的


màn 慢


zǐ sè de紫色的


tíng 停


fěn hóng sè 粉红色


gāo xìng 高兴

dark _____

shēn  _____

light _____

qiǎn  _____

First, the students had to identify the commands that were represented by the different coloured tiles. They experimented with the indi robot and made a list of their findings. Here is what they discovered (I have added English for reference).

Coloured Tile

Corresponding Command

qiǎn lǜ sè 浅绿色 (light green)

qù /kuài 去/快 (go/fast)

huáng sè de黄色的

màn 慢 (slow)

hóng sè de红色的 (red)

tíng 停 (stop)

zǐ sè 紫色 (purple)

gāo xìng 高兴 (happy)

fěn hóng sè粉红色 (pink)

zuǒ biān 90° 左边 (left 90°)

lán sè 蓝色 (blue)

yòu biān 90° 右边 (right 90°)

chéng sè 橙色 (orange)

zuǒ 45° (left 45°)

shēn lǜ sè 深绿色 (dark green)

yòu 45° (right 45°)

Next, the students used the text-free challenge cards (provided in the indi student kit) to guide their play and problem-solving. Throughout these challenges, they used Chinese language to communicate. The activity was rich with speaking, listening, collaboration and language reinforcement. With more time, I would have invited the students to make their own challenge cards for each other using this template from Sphero.

A few days later, I quizzed the students to check on their Chinese vocabulary retention. This was based on all of the vocabulary that had been introduced until that point. It was striking to me that the colours and commands were so well remembered by all of the students. As well as being enjoyable, it was clear that this lesson had a big impact on student learning. indi fostered high engagement, strong collaboration, and hands-on play. The benefits of these conditions were profound.

Author and Educator Adam Hill Works with students in Tanzania on learning English and Chinese with Sphero indi.

My volunteering trip to Tanzania was only two weeks on this occasion. Even in this short time, indi’s impact was clear. I’m reminded of the transformational potential of technology and the importance of providing these rich learning experiences. I’ll be back to teach these amazing students later in the year, and I’ll pack my trusty indi for even more fun!

To conclude, I encourage educators to explore the various resources from Sphero, including the Sphero indi Guide for Multilingual Learners. This is a brilliant resource that offers more guidance on indi’s role in the multilingual classroom. When teachers integrate indi, the possibilities for deep learning and student empowerment are truly endless.


About the Author

Adam Hill

Adam Hill is an experienced international teacher, school leader and STEM consultant. He believes passionately in the importance of student creativity and enjoys partnering with schools to support their STEM journeys. Adam was recognised as a Google for Education Champion and “Edruptor” of 2022. This summer sees the launch of his book, STEM-Powered Leadership. Find him Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn @AdamHillEdu.

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