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
Sentence Structure
Language Expansion
Build receptive and expressive vocabulary
Cause and Effect opportunities
Flexibility and Scaffolding to accommodate various learners
Voice recording
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.

Press the green Play button to start a session without specifying a User . If no user is specified, the settings from the last time you played will be used.

Add new Users or begin activity through each User’s unique settings here. There is no saved data in this app, just profiles.  You can delete old profiles you are no longer using by holding down the red X to the right of each saved profile.  After adding a new user by entering the name and pressing the green Add User button, a pop up window will ask if  you want to use the default or create a custom setting when entering a new User. See Settings Tab for a detailed list of these options.  When you have entered the settings you want, you can press the Play button right below and start game play.  You can also adjust settings through the Settings button on the main screen.

When you press Settings, you will see all the settings you can adjust, plus a Play button at the bottom middle of the screen. The settings are Character Choices, Voice Output Model, Play Format, Language Format, Required Number of Repetitions for Animation to Play, and Verb Choices. (See Settings Tab below for more details.) Once you have selected the settings you want, press Play to begin a session You can also bypass this step by selecting custom settings for each User through the Users button on the main screen.

Before using the app, read the Info button for methodology and helpful tips.

More Apps
This will take you to the App Store to view other Hamaguchi Apps.

Settings Tab
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. 

Character Choices
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.

Play Format
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.

Language Format
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

Verb Choices
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 HomeNew 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!

Wish List
( 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.

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