Vocabulary.com

Common Sense Media says

Intense, game-style vocab practice challenges teens.

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Simple design and on-screen aids help players get started right away.

Violence

A few words reference minor instances of violence, particularly as it's related to military events.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

A few words may have negative connotations.

Consumerism

Encourages users to connect with Vocabulary.com, the app's sister website.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few vocabulary words or definitions may reference drinking, drugs, and smoking.

Privacy & safety

The app requires an account to play (kids also can sign in through Facebook) and shares top scores of others playing each day.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Vocabulary.com helps teens build their vocabularies by turning learning about words into a game. Although teens must create an account or a login with Facebook to play, they spend most of the game focused less on socializing and more on defining key vocabulary words. The adaptive style of the game helps teens learn words at their level, while still challenging them with new words. As they improve in their understanding, they'll receive more challenging words. Teens may not incorporate all the words into their everyday conversations, but the app strives to provide them with relevant vocabulary. No matter which words they see, they'll also gain an understanding of the parts of speech, the makeup of words, and how to use context clues to determine word meaning.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • motivation
  • work to achieve goals

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Although the design isn't very flashy, kids get to take an active role and guess word meanings. They get points for every question they answer, which encourages them to repeatedly use the site and work toward higher achievement levels.

Learning Approach

Missed words reappear to ensure they've been learned. Terms that teens nail on the first try reappear, too. The impressively adaptive challenges are based on user responses.

Support

The app tracks user performance and offers hints to help users discover answers, but it lacks support for different types of students.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization
  • thinking critically

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • motivation
  • work to achieve goals

Kids can learn a wealth of new vocabulary words ranging from those they can incorporate into everyday conversation to those they may never think of again. The adaptive format helps ensure that kids see words that fit their learning levels and don't provide too much of a challenge. All types of words help them build their vocabulary skills by teaching them to recognize spelling patterns, similar words, and definitions and by using context clues to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. These skills will help them build their scores within the game and identify words outside the app. Vocabulary.com's game-style learning should hook kids into becoming well-spoken wordsmiths in no time. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Stacy Zeiger

What's it about?

VOCABULARY.COM encourages teens to build their vocabulary skills by introducing them to high-level words in a variety of contexts. The adaptive format helps gauge teens' vocab skills and presents words designed to challenge them. They also have the opportunity to study words from subject-specific or literature-specific word lists. However, rather than simply having users study word lists, the app engages players in a game wherein they must guess the meanings of unfamiliar words, insert words into sentences, and identify words to fit given definitions. As they answer questions correctly, the questions increase in difficulty, with the game throwing in a few words for review every so often. When teens have trouble coming up with an answer, they have the opportunity to eliminate half the answers, see a definition, or see the word used in context. All passages contained in hints and contained within the game's questions come from high-quality publications, including Scientific American and The New York Times. The more teens answer questions correctly, the more points they score. They also get the opportunity to track their progress after each round and see how they stack up against the day's top scorers, encouraging them to keep playing and score even higher.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Although learning new vocabulary words may not appeal to teens, playing a game will. Vocabulary.com turns learning vocabulary into a game for teens by providing them with opportunities to earn points and unlock achievements as they improve their skills. The game lacks some of the animations and sound effects that will reel most teens in, but, if they give it a shot, they may find it to be surprisingly addicting. Instead of answering the same type of question about the same words over and over again, teens will discover different question types and words appearing in a variety of contexts. Specialized word lists also allow teens to practice words they'll find in specific books, historical documents, and academic subjects or on SAT preps. As they play, they'll see which words they master and which need more work, providing some focus for their practice.

Families can talk about...

  • Pull out a dictionary and find a random word. Read a fake definition along with the real definition and see if other family members can determine which is real.

  • Choose a new word each day and try to use that word in conversation as much as possible throughout the day.

  • Make up new words and definitions and incorporate them into conversations.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:$2.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:March 21, 2014
Category:Education
Size:5.10 MB
Publisher:Vocabulary.com
Version:1.0.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 6.1 or later

This review of Vocabulary.com was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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