Monday, May 14, 2012

Language Adventures

This post originally appeared on Hanna B, Grad Student SLP.  Thanks, Hanna for allowing us to re-post, and for the mention of TherapyApp411!

It’s been a while since I last reviewed an app, so I think it’s high time for such a blog post (you have dysphagia and motor speech disorders exams to blame for that)! Smarty Ears has a new(ish) app out called Language Adventures (currently on sale for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store until May 16). I was fortunate enough to win a copy of it through a Facebook contest that TherapyApp 411 held a few weeks back, and I’m excited to share some of the great features this app has to offer! Language Adventures is a language board game app that targets synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings in both receptive and expressive modalities!

First and foremost, a HUGE Thank you to Barbara Fernandes and the rest of the Smarty Ears brainteam for adding video tutorials to all their apps! I know, I know…all technology should just be “intuitive” these days right? WRONG! We all find ourselves caught in the trap of thinking we know exactly how an app is supposed to run, only to find out that we’ve been neglecting some of the coolest, most exciting features all along simply because we never took the time to learn how to access them. Usually this happens as soon as we give the iPad to a client and give them the freedom to “figure the app out”…a million times better and faster than we did! Smarty Ears makes it so easy to learn all the perks of their apps through clear, concise, and accessible tutorials! (Woot Woot)

The Language Adventures game will support 1-4 students, so it’s a great option for individual therapy and group therapy alike! Adding a new student/client is easy: just enter their name, DOB, grade level, target items (synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings), and target language mode (receptive or expressive). You can even add a photo or avatar to represent each student (and who doesn’t love seeing themselves when an app is opened?!?!). Yes…I did name my pretend student “Fro” (can you tell someone was craving fro-yo when she was testing out this app?). The game can be played at 3 different levels, so never fear: this game will grow with your clients and be more than just a one-hit wonder!

The app itself is designed as a board game! Brilliant! For each turn, the client taps the dice to determine how many spaces they can move on the board. In order to cause their piece to advance, they must click on the square that correctly corresponds with the number rolled on the dice (Hey-o…math too!). Best part of rolling dice on an Ipad? They never fall off the table!!!!! As soon as the correct box is chosen and the piece moves forward, a language question will appear for the client. If you chose to target all 3 language skills, they will appear in random order throughout the game; otherwise all the questions will relate to your designated skill determined for the kiddo.

If you are working on receptive language skills, 4 possible answer choices will appear for the child to choose from. When working on expressive skills, the question is open-ended and the child must generate their own response that you can then mark as accurate or incorrect (Yup, this app collects your data for you too).

In the settings tab, you have the ability to turn audio-reading of questions on or off as well as to choose the consequence that occurs when an incorrect choice is made during receptive language questions. Luckily for you, you’ll never need to worry about adjusting trivial things like the background music or minor features…in fact, the snappy music will keep you and your client(s) jammin’ through your whole session :) All in all, I highly recommend this app for targeting the specific language skills it incorporates. Your clients are sure to love the board game concept, and you’re bound to love all the great learning opportunities this app provides for language!

Disclosure: Sean Sweeney, M.S. CCC-SLP, one of the editors of TherapyApp411, was involved in the development of this app and receives a share of its profits.


  1. Are you able to set levels of difficulty?? What are your thoughts about nonreaders??

    1. Hi! Sean here- I was on the team for this one.

      Yes, you can pick from 3 levels of difficulty (see below). Also within those levels, the receptive setting provides choices for the responses, and the expressive is more open ended and therefore more difficult for the same targets (e.g. "{context sentence} What is another word for fast?").

      The questions are read aloud. The choices aren't. We thought a lot about this but a) the audio files take up a large amount of memory and we want to expand the app and provide more targets (e.g. categories, complex syntax)- if we were to record the choices as well as the question it would have prohibited expansion, too much audio, huge app and b) we also always consider that these apps are really not designed for kids to use by themselves, and that a clinician will be there scaffolding and engaging with the material, so the nonreader is supported by the clinician.

      Thanks for your interest and questions! I had posted this on FB the other day so I will share it here too:

      Level 1 (grades 1-3, roughly)
      Synonyms- 48 targets (pairs)-big/large,chair/seat
      Antonyms-57-above/below, begin/end
      Multiple Meanings-33-back, bat
      Level 2 (grades 3-6)
      Synonyms-63-angry/furious, careful/cautious
      Antonyms-56- always/never, clean/filthy
      Multiple Meanings-38-charge, kind
      Level 3 (MS/HS)
      Synonyms-102-build/construct, correct/accurate
      Antonyms-70- absent/present, accidental/intentional
      Mult Meanings-40- crop, issue

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