First Words International
Patti Hamaguchi has developed another well thought out and executed app. First Words International is a basic vocabulary app. It offers 50 words in seven different languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Hindi and Russian. What sets this app apart from other vocabulary apps is the way in which Ms. Hamaguchi has made this app fun for children. She has done this through sound, animation and record/playback features.
The receptive vocabulary aspect of this app is presented in the following fashion: A picture appears in the middle of the screen. The narrator says, “Here is a _______.” Four different versions of the same object then pop up. As each picture appears, it is named. Thus, the child hears the same vocabulary word five times. The child is then instructed to “Find the ___.” Tap on one of the five pictures and the screen changes to show the object among four other entirely different objects. The child finds the object, taps on it and hears it’s name again. (By now, the child has heard the vocabulary word repeated seven times—a nice amount of auditory bombardment.) Once that is done, the screen again changes. This screen has a slot machine-like spinner that spins when the PLAY button is tapped. It spins through different objects until it stops on the object practiced on the preceding screens. The narrator says, “What is it? Say it.” Tap on the red button to record the child as she says the word. Tap on the blue button with the ear and the child hears her production. Tap on the CHECKbutton to hear the narrator say the word. This is also the screen that allows for scoring. Tap on the green check if the child’s response is correct or on the red X if she is wrong.
Built into app is a reward in the form of an animation. One can set the reward to appear after one, three or five responses. Each of the animations is different and appealing for children. Once the animation is finished the screen moves to the next vocabulary word.
Settings allow one to select whether or not the task will be to find, say the word or both. One can also select the order of the activities, specific words or a random presentation and picture style (photo, color, or random). One can also select random or custom presentation of animations or no animation as well as random or custom sounds. Text can be turned on/off. This app collects data for up to 15 children.
The vocabulary is appropriate for children who are about 18-30 months old. Bilingual educators and parents, who wish to introduce their children to other languages, can use this app with any age.
Ages: 18 months to 30 months as a vocabulary app; any age for second language learners
Developer website: Hamaguchiapps.com