App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
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Effective approach to expanding vocab with 40 free words.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn advanced vocabulary and methods to improve their memory and learning. They'll learn words such as "repugnant" and "sultry" as well as their meanings. They'll also "learn to learn" through memorization and review, and they're encouraged not to learn too much at once. After they've memorized five words, if they want to memorize another they'll get a message saying they may want to pace themselves -- a good reminder for effective learning. Cultiwords is an effective tool for improving vocabulary with the bonus of improving study skills.

Ease of Play

Each step of Cultiwords is easy to follow with written guidance. Push notifications remind kids to review or learn new words daily.


Additional word collections can be purchased for $0.99 each. There are purchase links on the start page.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cultiwords helps kids learn and remember 40 SAT-caliber vocabulary words. Extension packs of word collections can be added for $0.99 each. Kids can add words to their dictionary to review them until they are "acquired" -- when they've been correctly identified in different sentences on three different days. Kids can share words via Facebook. Push notifications are automatically set up to remind kids to review and learn words daily, but that can be disabled in the device's settings.

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What's it about?

CULTIWORDS uses repetition and memory techniques to teach vocabulary. Kids start by attempting to identify the word, then reviewing the definition, which includes phonetic pronunciation, etymology, definition, and anecdotes about the word. At that point, they can choose to forget the word (and learn it at another time), add it to their dictionary, or share it on Facebook. Once the word is added to the dictionary, kids review the word, along with others in the dictionary, until they have identified it correctly three times. Then the word is "acquired" and moved to the acquired list in the dictionary. The dictionary shows the list of words "in process of acquisition" and words "acquired." Kids can only review the words once per day and are reminded with push notifications. Some of the 40 base words include "chauvinistic," "efficacious," "innocuous," "requiem," and "sardonic."

Is it any good?

With only a few minutes a day, teens can dramatically improve their vocabularies using the process of memorization and review. The definitions go beyond the meaning of the word and give a colorful narrative of the word's origin, making it more likely to be remembered. Push notifications remind kids to review their words, further ensuring they'll commit them to memory. The word list is SAT-caliber and would challenge adults with words such as "quisling" and "plaudit." Phonetic information is included in the definitions, but there's no option to hear the words pronounced, which would be a nice feature.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Learn the words along with your teen and challenge each other to use a new word in daily conversation.

  • Listen to radio programs such as NPR's All Things Considered or PRI's This American Life to hear advanced vocabulary in use.

App details

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