A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn to recognize and define English words they use in everyday conversation. This includes words from popular movies, books and songs (but may also include inappropriate language!). Definitions go beyond the standard dictionary definitions and focus on real-world meanings and popular connotations, meaning it's not necessarily the place to find very formal defintions. Points, advancing through levels, and positive praise keep teens motivated to play until they've mastered their lists. Opportunities to connect with other users or share milestones through social media help get friends and family cheering them on as well. For kids hoping to improve their English and speak in a casual manner, Vocabla's great, but its loose style makes it just a piece of the puzzle for full language learning.
Ease of Play
Step-by-step tutorials help users get started, but do not make it apparent that pre-created lists exist. Accessing pre-made lists first could help users get started with the app right away.
Violence & Scariness
Users may type in words related to violence. Violent terms may appear in some pre-created word lists.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Library contains collections of words from songs by artists such as Lady Gaga that may contain sexual references.
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Some lists from songs and movies contain inappropriate language. For example, a list from Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" contains the word s--t. Teens can also type in inappropriate words.
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Products & Purchases
In addition to encouraging a connection Facebook, the library features word lists highlighting popular artists, movies and books. However, the focus is on the vocabulary, not selling products.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to drinking, drugs and smoking may appear in some of the pre-made lists, particularly those related to songs and movies.
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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.
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.
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