Casual definitions teach English learners the vernacular.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vocabla is an app that allows both English language learners and native speakers to expand their vocabularies. It generally doesn't focus on the most formal definitions; teens will learn English vocabulary words they'll actually use in every day conversation. However, this means some words teens access may be inappropriate: you can monitor use to keep the focus on appropriate words and restrict social media access.
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What’s It About?
Vocabla lets language learners create custom word lists or access word lists based on popular topics. Using those lists, kids practice matching vocab words with their definitions or translations through both a multiple choice and short answer game. Select your native language: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Portuguese, or Polish. If you select "other language" during setup, the app will default to English. You can then browse user-created lists or begin entering words for your own custom lists. Once you select or create a word list, you'll see words in their native language (or the English definition) and must choose the corresponding English word. While playing games, kids earn points and reach milestones, encouraging them to keep practicing and building their English vocabulary. Kids can share progress with others using the app or through social media.
Is It Any Good?
The strength of Vocabla is as a platform for student-created vocab study lists. In addition, some of the ready-made lists will be useful for English learners. However, Vocabla's goal is to teach words that kids "actually use," which can result in some inappropriate content and awkward definitions. Thankfully, most words feature multiple definitions for users to choose. However, the app doesn't allow students to input their own definitions -- only the vocab words. And the definitions automatically generated by the app aren't always the most common usage. For example, the app's definition of "wolf" is "a man who is aggressive in making amorous advances to women." While this might be an informal definition of "wolf," it's probably not the definition the student who created the list "animals/los animales" meant to use. The app does give the option to choose an alternate definition, but judging from the user-generated word lists, that feature isn't obvious to all users. With a Pro account upgrade, kids can hear pronunciations of the words, which is a helpful feature. However, the flashcard-style learning activities lack depth, and aren't likely to cement learning in the best way.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about slang and how it fits into a well-rounded vocabulary. Why is it important to know the true definitions of words?
Suggest words for kids to add to their word lists or create words lists for them based on their interests (animals, science, music, etc).
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, vocabulary
- Skills: Self-Direction: achieving goals, goal-setting, motivation, work to achieve goals, Communication: speaking, Tech Skills: social media
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: October 27, 2013
- Category: Education
- Topics: High School
- Publisher: Langapp Sp. z o. o.
- Version: 2.1
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 6.1 or later
- Last updated: July 12, 2020
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