First Words International by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development ($9.99 at time of review, iPad only)
First Words International is the newest addition in a suite of five apps from Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development. (Picture the Sentence, First Phrases, Fun with Directions, More Fun with Directions,and now First Words International)
Reviewed by A. Taylor SLPAs
I was particularly excited to see the multilingual aspect of this app, as I work with many students who are both Speech and Language Delayed and English Language Learners, and therapy apps in different languages are scarce in the App Store.
As a parent, I am also thrilled to have this app to expose my children to other languages. They enjoy playing and have picked up on several words in Spanish and Chinese already just through auditory instruction. There is a record feature which is very helpful for them to compare their pronunciation with that of the native speaker’s.
Flexible- customize which words to learn, adjust settings to the learner’s needs
Trial Based Method with Reward System
Multilingual- (American English, Spanish, Chinese(Mandarin), French, Hindi, Russian, or Japanese)
Using the App
Upon opening the app you can begin play right away, or first define Users. Defining a user allows you to track data for an individual. To track data during game play, first tap the Users button on the main screen, choose the User name or add a new name, then press Play. This will begin a trial, which consists of three parts- presentation of a target word to be learned, finding the word among five different target words, and saying the word when shown the target image.
I will give an example of play below, using all 3 of them. However, the app can be set to select one, two, or all three activities. Under the Activities setting I also chose Complete all activities selected for each word (e.g. apple: Learn the Word > apple: Say the Word) (See Settings for more information). This means the child will cycle through all three activities with the same word, “cookie” for example, before moving on to a new word. The animations can also be set- There are many to choose from and they are very charming. My personal favorites are the dinosaurs hatching and the butterflies emerging from their cocoons, but with 25 different animations, you will find one that is motivating. (See Settings for more details).
The first activity is called Learn the Word. Data is not collected during Learn The Word. I set the Animation to Random and After One Response, so this first activity ended with a random rewarding animation.
Learn the Word/ Presentation of target word:
Here is a cookie. ( image of a cookie appears. If Text is chosen in settings, the sentence will be written out below the image, Here is a cookie; the other images display a word label only, cookie. )
Cookie. Cookie, Cookie. Cookie. ( four more cookies appear, one by one)
Touch the picture. (At this stage, any of the 5 items can be touched)
(When a cookie is touched, all of them but one disappear one at the time, and the target item is voiced, “cookie”. )
[Reward Animation plays - dinosaurs hatch out of their shells]
Once the Animation is complete, the screen automatically advanced to the next activity, Find the Word.
Find the Word
Find the cookie. (5 images appear: cookie, door, dress, pants, cow)
(If the wrong image is tapped, nothing happens. When the target image is touched, it is voiced “cookie” and praise is given, “Super!”.)
[Reward animation plays - frogs jumping on lilypads]
Once the animation plays, a fun “spinner” will pop up. This is the third activity, Say the Word.
Say the Word
(a new screen pops up, with a spinner)
(child presses the green Play button; a fun spinning sound plays)
What is it? Say it.
(child records response)
(child can press the blue Ear button to hear his response, and/or the blue Check button to hear the correct response)
(adult presses either a green check or a red X to indicate whether the child responded correctly*)
(Press Play button to move to next trial)
[Animation plays- puppy taking a bath]
[Another trial begins]
*I really like the record feature combined with the data tracking, as I can use this to record if my student is able to identify each target word and label it expressively. I can email this data or view a PDF at a later time. (See Ending a Session)
Ending a Session
A session can be ended at any time by pressing the End Session button in the upper left hand corner of the game play screen. A pop will ask you to confirm, then you can review a results screen with the name, date and time the session began, along with correct and missed items for the tasks (Say the Word, Find the Word) It also displays the settings you used. For example, the screen might say Animation Reward: After 3 responses Language: English Text: Off, Picture Style: Random This is especially helpful in determining not only what material covered/ what language was used, but also may help determine what best motivates a student.
From this data screen, you can choose to exit (Done button) erase (Delete Data button) print (Print button) or repeat missed items (Play missed items button). Also at the top of the screen you can choose Email, to email yourself or someone else a PDF, or PDF to view a PDF right from within the app.
Settings can be accessed through the bottom part of the main page, or through the top right hand of the screen during Activity Play.
There are three activities to choose from (Learn the Word, Find the Word, Say the Word- data is only taken for the last two activities.) The app can be set to select one, two, or all three activities during Activity Play. Also the Order of Activities can be set to Complete each activity (e.g. Learn the Word) for entire group of words selected before moving to the next activity chosen (e.g. Find the Word) or Complete all activities selected for each word (e.g. apple: Learn the Word > apple: Say the Word)
Choose from American English, Spanish, Chinese(Mandarin), French, Hindi, Russian, or Japanese
Choose from Random or Custom. Custom allows you to choose entire Categories (Animals, Body Parts, Clothing, Food, Household Objects, Miscellaneous, People, Vehicles) or specific cards from within those categories.
Choose from Photo, Color, Random
Choose from No Animations, Random, Custom. You can set them to show After one response, After three responses, or After five responses. There are many animations to choose from: Airplanes, Baseballs, Basketballs, Bees, Birds Hatching, Car Race, Cat Chasing Mice, Butterflies, Dog in Tub, Dumptruck, Dinosaurs Hatching, Frogs on Lilypads, Fireworks, Ballerinas, Frog in Tub, Jumping Frogs, Groundhogs, Monkeys Climbing, Rabbits Hopping, Penguins Hatching, Rockets, Flowers Blooming, Skiers, Soccer Balls, Train.
Choose from Random or Custom (choose from Elevator bell, Fast tune, Harp chimes, Magic chimes, Marimba, Percussion notes, Rope whip, Swoosh, Wizzer)
Here you can turn the Progress Tracker On/Off and turn the Display Scores feature On/Off.
Turn Text On/Off to determine if a label will show with the target image.
As a speech therapy assistant, I love how this app presents the user/child with a variety of images for each target word. The child learns that a bus is not just a yellow school bus, but also blue and white, or a number of other colors and sizes. This helps the child generalize the words learned across environments. I also expect this app to be a hit among parents and teachers alike, especially for its multilingual aspect. There are very few apps that I am aware of that allow switching between languages along with data tracking for receptive/expressive vocabulary. With clear pictures and audio instructions, a variety of target images shown, and the ability to track data in 7 different languages, this app should be well loved by many. It’s certainly not coming off my iPad!
(I always have one!)
For once I’m stumped. More images perhaps? Adding Turkish and Portuguese would be wonderful! Ooh, found one. If you have chosen the Custom setting under Words, and then go to the main screen, but you forgot to actually select any words, a little pop up says “Please select Words”. If you press OK, it keeps popping over and over again until you close out the app and delete it from your running apps. I’m sure this bug will be squashed quickly through an update. Oh and one more- I would love a setting for Romanized versions of the Languages so they can be easily read by non-native speakers.