Real Vocabulary by Virtual Speech Center is a comprehensive language program for elementary students which targets core curriculum vocabulary in an engaging and highly customizable app. Virtual Speech Center has many other speech and language apps including Articulation Carnival, Articulation Vacation, Auditory Memory Ride and Apraxia RainbowBee.
The app can be set to target concepts either receptively (with 4 answer choices provided) or expressively (child’s verbal answer is scored manually). Tasks can be individualized by levels kindergarten-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4-5th across five different categories:
Antonyms: i.e. What is the opposite of narrow?
Synonyms: i.e. What is another word for ship?
Definitions: i.e. What is a natural resource?
Multiple Meanings: i.e What else can “light”mean?
Idioms: i.e. What does “out of the blue” mean?
Each category has 300 targets (100 for each grade level) for a grand total of 1500 distinct trials in the entire app.
There is a demo video highlighting the settings and features of the app found under the info tab on the main menu.
In the settings, you have the option to select sound effects for correct and incorrect answers, enable text and/or audio for the questions to be shown and/or read aloud, enable auto paging, or enable answers to be shown. For the rewards game, you can set the frequency as well as length of time for playing each of 3 mini games. In the Pro version, you also have the ability to add your own words/images and recordings of additional targets for the ultimate customization.
The app also includes 3 reward games: Wobbly Waiter, Catch the Dish and Sling Challenge. In Wobbly Waiter the player has to balance as many dishes as possible on a tray before time runs out or the tray tips over. In Catch the Dish the player has to catch the correct dish from a variety of fast-moving spinning dishes falling down. Sling Challenge is an Angry Birds style catapult game. The reward games are quite challenging and may prove to be more frustrating than fun, especially for younger children or those with fine motor challenges, it would be nice to have an “easy” option added with slower moving objects and more help in aiming the catapult.
I love the variety and amount of targets provided, 100 hundred trials per category for each grade level provides plenty of vocabulary-learning opportunities. The ability to customize across three separate grade levels allows the app to grow with students. Colorful, photographic images are interesting and engaging and being able to target both receptive and expressive language skills is a big plus. For the SLP discrete data tracking for each student with specific breakdown of correct vs incorrect responses is helpful in keeping track of an individual’s progress and targeting core curriculum vocabulary makes the job of a school SLP easier. I appreciate the ability to record and playback the student’s verbal response, and the ability to customize with your own targets makes this app completely flexible and versatile to meet a variety of students’ needs.
However, even though I love the concept of the app there are some areas where I feel it could be improved. The answer buttons are very long and narrow with little separation between them which may make answer selection difficult especially for children with fine motor or coordination difficulties. When a wrong answer is selected, the correct answer is highlighted only briefly. This does not allow time for discussion of the concept and consequently does not aid in the correct learning of the target. I would like the correct answer to remain highlighted until I move on to the next question.
The concepts presented in the idioms section seem as though they would be too difficult for children in the kindergarten-1st grade level especially since the images shown represent the literal meaning of the idiom. Many of the children utilizing this app are likely to have language delays which would make the comprehension of an abstract concept like idioms even more difficult. In addition, many of the answer choices are very vague and similar which may lead to confusion over the definitive answer. For example, for the following question
“The plant is alive. What is the opposite of life?” the four answers provided include:
Based on the context, we can deduce that the most appropriate answer would be “death”. However, many could argue that 3 out of the 4 answers may fit as well. The vagueness of many of the answer choices leaves the correct answer open to interpretation and may cause frustration.
Overall, this app was a very ambitious undertaking with its extensive inventory of targets and colorful photographs. The interface is sleek and easy to navigate. The core curriculum vocabulary targeted is very appropriate for school-based SLPs. However, many of the answer choices are ambiguous and there is a lack of reinforcement of the correct answer. Great concept, but not always the best execution.
Despite its shortcomings, the app is extremely versatile given the extent of customization ability. This app would be especially handy for SLPs working in the school setting or any parent wanting to give their child’s vocabulary a boost.
iTunes Link Full version: Real Vocabulary Pro – Virtual Speech Center Inc.
Real Vocabulary Pro
by Virtual Speech Center Inc.
Price: $29.99 USD
****What I really like about this app: The depth and scope of this app which allows so many different aspects of vocabulary to be targeted. The ability to add your own words and notes.(Nikki Heyman,SLP.
iTunes Link lite versionReal Vocabulary – Virtual Speech Center Inc.
by Virtual Speech Center Inc.
The Real Vocabulary app is a comprehensive and flexible language program for kindergarten-5th grade students targeting core curriculum vocabulary*.
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Shari is a married mother of four from Illinois. She works as a speech pathologist in a rehab setting and loves to use apps in therapy. She is a self-proclaimed “Appaholic”- always on the look out for great apps!