English idioms,vocabulary game

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
English idioms,vocabulary game App Poster Image
Collection of sayings has errors, costs an arm and a leg.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn a variety of English expressions and idioms. The phrases, and their definitions may also contain new vocabulary words for kids to learn. However, there are errors, so kids might get some misinformation.

Ease of Play

Tap and swipe to browse through categories or start a set. Games and lessons have clear controls, though the app sometimes lags in response time.

Violence

A "war" category of idioms includes mild references to war, fighting, and weapons.

Sex

A sexuality themed category includes idioms such as "better than sex" or "have the hots for someone" and mild sexual terminology.

Language

The religion category includes idioms that use words like "hell."

Consumerism

Access to the app is through a subscription only. After a three-day free trial, users are automatically billed at $9.99/week. There are two icons that advertise other apps from the same developer hidden among the app's navigation tools. Tapping on them takes users directly to the app store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are a few references to alcohol or being drunk, such as the idiom " to drink like a fish."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that English idioms,vocabulary game is a subscription-based app designed to help English language learners learn cultural phrases and expressions. Each expression is read out loud and includes a definition and a short bit of written dialogue that shows it being used in context. Kids must sign up for a subscription before accessing any content. The subscription starts with a three-day free trial after which it automatically bills at $9.99 per month. English Idioms,Vocabulary Games asks for permission to send push notifications so that it can remind you to play every day. Though most language is mild and doesn't contain any explicit descriptions there are some categories of idioms that include content that parents may want to be aware of, such as the sexuality or religion category. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Before starting ENGLISH IDIOMS,VOCABULARY GAMES, choose your current level of English: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. After signing up for a subscription, kids tap "Start to learn" or choose a category. Either choice starts an introduction to a handful of idioms. A narrator reads each expression out loud, and kids read its definition and usage in a sentence. Tap next to read it used in a short dialogue between two people. At the end of each set, kids see a definition and then must construct the matching idiom by putting the words in the correct order. Search idioms at any time by category or keyword, or play the word scramble or a multiple-choice quiz at any time.

Is it any good?

This large dictionary of quirky English expressions could be an interesting asset to anyone learning the languag -- if only it didn't have so many problems. Language learning isn't always just about grammar and vocabulary. English Idioms,Vocabulary Games stands out because it targets a different area of language learning: all those cultural idioms that don't always translate well, but carry a lot of meaning. And there are lots of them in this pretty extensive collection. Each idiom is nicely introduced with a definition and usage in a sentence and a short dialogue. It all sounds great -- except that it's not.

First, English Idioms,Vocabulary Games was clearly written by non-native English speakers as many idioms have odd phrasing, many sentences have poor grammar, and some examples showcase incorrect usage of the idiom. The user experience isn't great, as the narrator sometimes mispronounces homographs (words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently with different meanings). Sometimes learning sets "introduce" the same idiom multiple times. And though the app asks for your current level of English and kids progress through levels, there's no apparent change in what kids do or learn. Finally, at $9.99 per week, English Idioms,Vocabulary Games is very expensive. Unfortunately, most families would do better finding another way to learn English idioms and expressions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idioms in English Idioms,Vocabulary Games. Do you have a similar expression in your native language? Or, if you're an English speaking family, did you know all these phrases?

  • Practice using the new expressions together. Have fun finding as many opportunities to insert these new phrases into every day conversation.

  • Watch movies and read lots of books in English to find more idioms and expressions used in context. Write down what you don't understand and look it up online.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: vocabulary
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (three-day free trial, then $9.99/week)
  • Release date: February 28, 2020
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 119.30 MB
  • Publisher: Basenji Apps
  • Version: 2.1.8
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later
  • Last updated: March 10, 2020

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