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A simple computer program that teaches children to distinguish between sounds can dramatically boost their listening skills. It can allow them to progress by the equivalent of two years in just a few weeks, the game's creator claims. The game, called Phonomena, was devised by David Moore of the University of Oxford, UK, as an aid for children with language problems, but he says his latest trials also show that it can help any child. Other experts, however, are reserving judgement until independent tests are carried out. Phonomena is designed to improve children's ability to distinguish between different phonemes, the basic sounds that form the building blocks of language. Up to a fifth of all children are thought to have problems hearing the differences between some sounds, says Moore, who heads the UK Medical Research Council's Institute of Hearing Research.


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