I hope you are all doing well. It has been a long time since I have reviewed apps. To make up for my absence, I will be reviewing one app today and posting another next week. 🙂 I’ll start with an articulation app called Boo Articulation Helper.
Boo Articulation Helper was developed by Thomas Ljungblad, an SLT from Sweden. Before agreeing to review the app, I suggested that Mr. Ljungblad read my past reviews of apps designed for articulation. As you know, I have been less than enamored by apps targeting articulation. I set a high bar for approval; the sounds produced by the app must be clearly and accurately produced. The last thing an SLP wants is for the app to confuse the child further. After reading the reviews, Mr. Ljungblad wrote back that he would like me to review his. So here we go.
The overall design of this app is pleasant, easy to use and straightforward. Boo is a cute cartoon frog that sits in the middle of the screen and does the talking. The consonant sounds targeted by this app are b, t, d, k, g, s, z, f, v, sh, ch, m, n, l and w. The vowel sounds are ee, ah,oo awe (designer’s designation) and er. Each consonant and vowel sound is contained within a square along with a picture. The consonant and vowel pictures are to the left and right of Boo, respectively. Above Boo are two empty squares; the left square is for placement of the consonant and the right for the vowel. (Only C, V and CV constructs are possible.) Once the sound(s) are in the square, Boo is tapped and says the C, V or CV depicted. The app allows for recording and playback of the child’s production. The app can also be set up to have Boo repeat the boxed sound(s) one, three or five times in a row or to slow down his productions. Also, the SLP can preselect the sounds she wishes to appear on the screen. Thus, if the child is working on /s/, that sound alone will appear on the screen.
Now for the meat of the app—sound production and clarity. My son-in-law, (whose first language is not English) was in the room as I listened to the sounds in isolation. He became my second set of ears. As I played each consonant sound, I asked what sound he heard. Most of the sounds produced in isolation were easily identified by him. The difficult-to-distinguish sounds were b and d. I found that p and b were somewhat distorted, but it did not seem to bother my son-in-law. The vowels that I found to be inaccurately produced (as per standard American English) were aw and er. Actually, I was unable to detect the /r/ in er. Mr. Ljungblad explained, “…the sounds are pronounced with ‘standard’ British English in mind. (Consequently, for example, the absence of /r/ in er.