First Phrases HD by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development ($9.99 at time of review for HD/ iPad; $9.99 iPhone,.99 for Lite versions)
Review by A. Taylor, SLPAs
First Phrases HD is one of five apps from Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development ( First Phrases, Fun With Directions, More Fun With Directions, Picture the Sentence, and First Words International). This is a perfect app for young students who are just beginning to combine 2 or 3 words together to communicate. The app provides Verb + Noun phrases such as cut + the cake, or eat + the + banana. The app also includes phrasal verbs (verb + preposition) like put away or turn on. First Phrases HD is my favorite app in this series and also the biggest hit among my young students with speech and language delays. They love the cause and effect aspect of this app- tap a phrase and the character will animate it. Even more enticing, is the record feature. After the child records the phrase, they can listen to their recording, causing the animation to repeat. This is really delightful for my students who understand the character is doing what they requested through their own verbal language!
Verb + Noun phrase practice
Build receptive and expressive vocabulary
Cause and Effect opportunities
Flexibility and Scaffolding to accommodate various learners
Ability to pause animations for discussion or requesting turn
Great for English Language Learners as well
More Uses for First Phrases HD
First Phrases HD allows opportunities for language expansion by modeling beyond the noun+ verb phrase. For example, when the child taps Take out + the cookies, the character says “They’re done. OK, I’ll take out the cookies.” Tapping Wash +the car is met with, “Yeah, it’s kind of dirty, I’ll wash the car.”
This app has been useful with students who are beyond 2 to 3 word utterances as well. I can ask the student to use a Subject + Verb+ Object format to describe an animation, “The mouse is pouring juice.”, and even have them record it that way. I have also used this app with older students to practice past tense. After having the child make the character do an action i.e. Pop the balloon I ask “What did the (cat) do?” The child can respond “He popped the balloon.” or “The cat popped the balloon.”
First Phrases HD could be used for informal he/she practice too- the different characters themselves have decidedly male/female voices. For example, the mouse and the girl are female; the boy, bear, cat, and dog are male (In-app purchase required to access boy, girl, dog). You can select whether the sentence (when tapped) is spoken by a female child or a male child, or random. You can ask the student to repeat the directions, “He said to turn on the light” or “She said to cut the cake”. You can choose Random/Mixed for Character Choices and Random for Voice Output Model in Settings to do this kind of activity.
Main Screen Tabs
If you have other Hamaguchi apps, this will be familiar to you. From the Main Screen you can access Play, Users, Settings, Info, and More Apps.
Just like other Hamaguchi apps, the flexibility of First Phrases HD is great. I can choose exactly which words to target with a child, or control how many practices are required to activate the animations, and much more.
This controls which character or characters will be shown during Game Play. Choose from Random/Mixed to rotate among all character choices, or Custom to choose just one of the characters- Cat, Bear, Mouse, or if in-app purchase is unlocked also Boy, Girl, Dog.
Voice Output Model
This is the voice for the model sentences spoken as a student taps the pictures/words.
Choose from Girl, Boy, or Random.
This controls the level of play.
Easy play (touch the screen area to activate animation)
Normal play (touch each part of phrase to activate animation)
Challenge play (drag words in order). Challenge play is great for practicing simple sentence structure.
This allows the child to drag the picture parts into correct word order. The child will be prompted to correct the sentence if the words are not put in the correct order.
This allows the user to view/hear the parts of the sentence either in two chunks or three chunks.
2 parts (verb + object) ride (pause) the bike
3 parts (verb +the + object) ride (pause) the (pause) bike
Required Number of Repetitions for Animation to Play
This sets how many times you want the user to practice a phrase before the animation begins. The more times the user has to tap the phrase, the more auditory input provided.
User taps phrase 1 time then animation is played
Users taps phrase 2 times then animation is played
Users taps phrase 3 times then animation is played
Verbs are: (simple verb forms) close, cut, drink, drive, drop, eat, kick, open, play, pop, pour, pull, push, ride, roll, throw, wash (verb + preposition forms) go on, jump off, jump on, jump over, put away, put on, sleep on, step over, take off, take out, turn off, turn on
Random/Mixed- Game Play will randomly choose from all of the verbs.
Custom Select- Choose exactly which verbs you want to focus on here
Using First Phrases HD
To begin play you can select Users, which will take you automatically to the Game Play screen once a User is selected. Alternatively, you can press Play and then choose the settings you prefer directly from the game screen. The settings button in the top right hand corner will allow access to all settings. On the top left of the screen is the Home button, which will take you out of the activity and return you to the main screen. The button below Home, New Phrase, will give a new direction for the student to practice. If you only choose one verb to work on through the Custom Select button in Settings, you can still use the New Phrase button- the verb form will remain the same, but the object will change. i.e. Close the door, close the drawer, close the window etc. If Random/Mixed is selected for Verb Choices in Settings, then each new phrase will have a different Verb + Noun : jump on the bed, throw the ball, turn off the TV. If Required Number of Repetitions for Animation to Play is set to more than one, the student will be prompted to tap the phrase parts again. A blue check mark will display at the end of the phrase for each attempt. After the child finishes the required number of trials, the screen will automatically advance to the animation- or to cut short the number of attempts, push the green arrow at the bottom of the screen to view the animation.
Another great feature during animation play is the pause button at the bottom of the screen. The pause button can be tapped at any time during the animation. I have used the pause button to discuss the picture with my student, to give him a chance to request, or simply because there was something distracting going on in the environment. When paused, the screen will show a play button in place of a pause button to resume play. After the animation is completed, a Record screen will pop up. Press the Start button when the student is ready to say the phrase, then Stop. The student can then choose Listen and Watch, or Try again. If the child made an error, you can use the Try Again button to rerecord. Listen and watch allows the child to hear their own voice, followed by the animation. This is a great way for the child to realize his words are powerful!
( I always have one!)
No data tracking? Data Tracking is a feature I would love to see in First Phrases, and it’s something I really appreciate about its sister apps Picture the Sentence and First Words International! I would love to see this added to this app as well. Also, currently Character Choices can be Random/Mixed or Custom, but under Custom you can only select one character at a time, instead of multiple characters that rotate during game play (as in Random/Mixed play, but this uses all of the characters.) If you could pick two or more, you could choose a combination of your student’s favorite characters. This would also be really helpful for doing he/she activities with this app, so that you could choose one male character and one female character to give balanced opportunities for he/she practice.