Review by Mary Mahon and Suzanne Berhow, SLP
Language Empires was developed by SLPs Barbara Ferandes and Rosie Simms of Smarty Ears. It was developed for elementary school children age children and has an ancient civilizations theme. It works on 8 goals: answering how, why, and which questions; inferencing, vocabulary; predicting; figurative language and sequencing. Each student can work on their own individual goals and some goals have 2-3 levels so each student can work at their own level as well! Up to 5 students can play at the same time, each working on their own unique goals, but the app will track data for an unlimited number of students. Data from the app can also be reviewed on the Smarty Ears Therapy Report Center app.
To play each student is placed on an Empire – each Empire targets different goals, and students can visit more than one Empire in a game, and more than one student an Empire at the same time. Each Empire has 50 questions and there are a total of 400 questions in the app.
Sequencing has three levels- sort 3, 4, or 5 items and two types of tasks. Some items sort sequences in an activity. Some sequences sort items by attributes such as hottest to coldest.
Predicting has three levels- 2,3 or 4 choices.
Why questions has three levels 2,3, or 4 answer choices.
Which has two levels – 2 or 3 choices.
Inferencing has two levels 2 or 3 choices.
Figurative language and How only have one level with three choices.
Vocabulary has two levels, both with four choices.
Although it is working on different goals and has a different theme, the app layout is very similar to Syntax City, which we have previously reviewed. For each question a photograph and accompanying short paragraph sets the scene, then the student has to answer a related question by picking from several possible answers. In the default setting the paragraph is both seen and heard, the answer options are only displayed in written form, not narrated; I would like the possible answers to also be narrated. If the student is working on auditory comprehension there is an option to hide the paragraph so they only hear it, not see it. If they are working on written comprehension you can switch off the narration. If a student gives an incorrect answer you can choose for them to hear a buzzer, or for the wrong answer to just silently disappear.
When students get an answer correct on the first attempt they earn a gold coin, once they have earned enough gold coins to master a given category they earn rewards in the shape of treasures from the ancient civilizations, these can be accessed in the student’s profile. The app also offers built-in homework sheets for each target.
As with all Smarty Ears apps, Language Empire offers detailed data collection. A set of graphs provides immediate visual feedback (colored bars to help students see how well they are doing- green is passed, yellow is developing, red needs work). The data can be emailed, printed, or shared to other compatible applications such as iBooks or Pages.
We would like to see the data for every session in one day put into one report so that you can track all of the different goals in one report for each day while targeting one goal and then going back to target another goal. Not all students are ready to jump from one item to another and back to the first goal in one session. If that is not possible I’d like to see only the goals worked on in each session.
Overall, this is a great app with a lot of versatility. We love that each student can work on their own goals and that there are different levels of difficulty. The app can also be used to selectively target auditory or written comprehension. Data collection is also a must for the busy SLP, and with Smarty Ears Therapy Report Center App data from all their apps can be collected in one report.
If you’d like to download Language Empires, ($24.99, iPad only ) please use this link so they’ll know who sent you:
Full version: Language Empires – Smarty Ears
by Smarty Ears
Price: $24.99 USD
**Chosen top pick app for educators by Fun Educational Apps**
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Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).