Friday, January 18, 2013

Language Empires by Smarty Ears- a Receptive Language App

Smarty Ears recently released their newest addition to the family, Language Empires.  I just spent the last couple weeks reviewing this iPad only app with my elementary school clients, who incidentally LOVED it!   Come with me as we explore some magical lands while fine tuning our receptive language skills!

As with all games, you must first create player profiles by entering names and photos (optional) for each client.  You will be able to select as many as five players at one time.

After selecting players, the next screen allows you to decide which of the eight empires (Predicting,  Sequencing, Why, Which, Inferencing, Vocabulary, Figurative Language, and How) you would like to explore.  One student can enter several, different kingdoms!

Starting at the top of the circle of kingdoms are the Mayans, who guide you on a tour of their kingdom of Predicting.  All rewards and background settings are depicted with items from the Mayan Empire.  Predicting offers three difficulty levels.  The first levels provides two answer choices, the second has three, and the third gives four selections.

Travel to a futuristic empire to learn more about sequencing events.  Again, you have three levels of play with the first one displaying three events to sequence.  The next level will show four, sequential events, and the final level contains five.  I REALLY liked all the great variety and functional activities chosen for these tasks.  However, I would LOVE to see some correctly ordered events remain in place when you make an error on other ones.  Right now, when you error, all steps are drawn back to the bottom of the screen.

The kingdom of China asks "Why" questions.  Again, you get three levels starting with two answer choices in the first level, three in the next level, and four in the final level.   I REALLY liked the backgrounds in this and all of the kingdoms as they are cheerful, thematic, and free of too many distractions.

The British empire strives to teach choosing answers to "Which" questions.  There are two levels here: the first gives two answer choices and the second shows three.  Overall, this activity seems relatively easy.  All answer choices are depicted in pictures with the word written underneath.  This would be a good task for young elementary students in preschool through kindergarten.  In fact, I tried it out with a four year old who did just fine!

Making inferences depicts a medieval theme and offers two levels.  Again, the first level gives two answer choices and the second shows three.  This activity seems appropriate for kindergarten through first grade students.  The visuals are great and answer choices are short and sweet!

The kingdom of vocabulary seems to be the most challenging of all the Language Empire games.  Here, you will learn how to use context cues to help define new vocabulary terms.   There are two levels of play, each of which offers four answer choices per question.  This Greek kingdom is a great teaching tool for first through fifth grades.

The Egyptians bring you drills on figurative language.  There is just one level of difficulty offering three answer choices per question.  I liked how the visuals show the literal meaning for the implied messages.

The final kingdom of the Roman Empire poses one level of 'How" questions with three answer choices.  There is a good collection of questions in this activity.

Overall, I was fascinated by the great selection of receptive language tasks in this visually stimulating app!  The developers did a fabulous job creating the themes and connecting rewards to each kingdom.  As always, I LOVE how the developers provided the following: "treasures" that coincide with the themes; statistical tracking; and the multiple players option that allows up to five people to play within several different kingdoms.  I would love to see an audio piece read answer choices so students do not need to rely on my 'upside down reading skills'!

Language Empires, by Smarty Ears is on sale for $19.99 at iTunes right now! (Full price $29.99)

I was given a copy of this app for review from Smarty Ears.  No other compensation was provided.  The opinions in this review are solely mine.

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