Friday, October 7, 2011

In, out, on, and under

Learning which preposition to use can be tricky for second language learners. There are a couple of apps that can help. Speech with Milo from Doonan Speech Therapy has one version that focuses on prepositions, and Mobile Education Tools has just released an app called PrepositionBuilder.

I used Speech with Milo - Prepositions last year, and although it's not the most exciting of apps, the kindergartner I was using it with loved Milo the mouse. Designed for use by speech language therapists with a view to using it with kids on the autism spectrum, the mouse does seem to be popular with younger kids. Although most of the animations are very clear, there are a few that are potentially confusing. The preposition 'under' for example, is illustrated by Milo getting IN a submarine that then goes UNDER the water. This is not an app that students would use by themselves - it is designed to be used with an adult's guidance. There is nothing built in to the app to track a student's progress. In the settings you can decide which of the prepositions will be presented at each sitting. At $2.99 it is relatively cheap.

 PrepositionBuilder is significantly more sophisticated. Unless an adult is sitting with them to read the sentence prompts, students need to be able to read in order to choose the correct preposition to complete the sentence. However, once they have chosen the correct answer, the app will read the completed sentence to them. When a student gets an answer wrong, the image on the screen changes to represent the sentence that they have created. Although kids will enjoy getting the sentence wrong, the app is still reinforcing the correct way to use each of the prepositions. Students can record themselves reading the correct sentence, and that recording can be emailed to the teacher. Even if you are right next to the student listening to them, sometimes it's nice to have a recording that documents a student's speaking skills! Some students may find it harder than others to manage the recording and saving process by themselves.

PrepositionBuilder keeps track of each student's progress and rewards them with animations when they get answers right the first time. You can save profiles for multiple kids. At $7.99, this app is clearly more expensive than Speech With Milo, but I think with the added features you get your money's worth.

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