I would guess that most speech-language therapists who use phones or tablets in therapy will have already purchased an articulation flashcards app. This post, however, will hopefully help anyone just starting out with this technology to make an informed decision. Unlike my previous posts, where I have simply described my point of view on a single app, I want to engage others who use similar apps and allow them to compare and contrast. Since these articulation apps tend to be on the pricier side, reviewers typically only purchase one, and it is difficult to discern how various options “match up.” With this post, I’ll start by reviewing the articulation flashcard app that I use most frequently, but then I am calling on you (fellow #slpeeps!) to share with me how the artic flashcard app(s) you use measures up. This is a bit of an experiment in #slpeep interaction that was inspired by a recent Twitter conversation with Dr. Bronwyn Hemsley (@bronwynah). If you are an SLP using a similar app, participate and let us know why your app should (or shouldn’t) be downloaded by the next curious SLP!
What It Is: Articulation flashcard decks by RinnApps, arranged by phoneme.
Price: $29.99 (full version); $1.99 (most single-phoneme decks–e.g., /s/ blends); Free (“th” deck only)
How It Works: Entering the app, there is a choice between flashcards and matching. Choosing the flashcards option, the user may then pick one or more of 21 decks, separated by phoneme (or phoneme blend). The user then has the option to choose in which position of words the target phoneme(s) should be addressed (e.g. initial only). For some decks, this may be specified slightly differently (e.g. the /r/ deck is broken down into various post-vocalics such as /air/ and /er/ as well as the prevocalic /r/ and the /rl/). Once the phonemes and positions have been specified, the app produces a customized deck of cards to be scrolled through. Data can be collected for each card and summarized at any point. There is also an option to record the user’s productions and play them back for self-monitoring purposes. The matching option has many similar features such as recording and data collection. Again, the user chooses the desired phonemes and positions in words. Then, the user can pick the level of difficulty/number of cards (easy=8, medium=12, hard=20) and a matching game is created. All data from sessions with flashcards and matching is saved by student for future reference.
My Therapy Applications: Obviously, I use this app to address articulation goals. Occasionally, I will use it 1:1 with a child who simply enjoys scrolling through it, practicing the words, and listening to the recording of his or her own voice. More frequently, however, I find that I use this during board games such as Candy Land or Checkers, with the child practicing the word (in isolation or phrases or conversation) before each turn. I may also incorporate it in physical activities (e.g. ball toss), depending on the child’s preferences. In addition, I may have this app on my phone while we engage in play on the tablet.
Pros: 1. Price. Typically, I count this as a “con” for apps that are in this price range. However, considering the rate for traditional paper decks, this really is a good deal. I will be interested to hear what other SLPs/SLTs paid for similar apps.
2. Non-ambiguous pictures. This app’s images are relatively easy to match with the appropriate words.
4. Transitioning between flashcards is easy and natural. It only requires a flick of the finger but is not too sensitive. (Compare this to apps that have a cumbersome arrow at the bottom or those so sensitive that an accidental touch of the finger will skip three flashcards.)
5. There is an option to shuffle the order of the cards or have them transition in order. For example, the cards could randomly alternate between /f, v/ phonemes in random order, or it could begin with /f/ in the initial position and transition to the medial and so on.
6. It is possible to end the session at any time–no need to go through all of the cards in order to get the data summary.
7. It is also possible to return to the place you left off–no need to start a brand new session if you had to momentarily close out of the app.
8. There is an option to take notes during or at the end of the session.
Cons: 1. Some phonemes are lacking an adequate number of flashcards. For example, the post-vocalic /r/ options are rather limited.
2. The app is missing some important phonemes, such as /w, h, ng, y, zh/. It combines voiced and unvoiced /th/.
The Take-Away: Overall, this app has been better than satisfactory for my purposes. I am disappointed in the lack of certain phonemes (particularly /w, y/!); however, I do believe I have gotten my money’s worth with this purchase.
My Questions for You: So, time for you to tell me about your app. How is it similar/different? Are you pleased with it? Was it worth the cost?
*Please, if you are an app developer or otherwise invested in a similar app, disclose this in your comment/review (good or bad). Thanks!*