Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013
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English Club

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Overly rigid lessons are better with teacher guidance

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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1-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Comprehensive lessons include a variety of activities, and medals motivate students to complete them.

Cons: Strict lesson structure and slow response times may frustrate students.

Bottom Line: Kids can learn English by breaking the language down into its individual letters and sounds, but may be put off by the rigid lesson structure.

Teachers could use English Club with individual students or as part of whole-group instruction. The structure of the lessons makes them better suited for a whole classroom setting, perhaps where teachers present the lessons on a large screen at the front of the class and have students take turns practicing writing and sounding out letters and words.

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English Club provides students with a comprehensive overview of the English language by breaking down some of its basic parts. Each lesson covers a specific set of letters, sounds, and words that contain those letters and sounds. As students go through the lessons, they follow a specific sequence of activities designed to maximize learning. First kids go through flash cards and video-based learning activities. Then they can apply their new knowledge through a series of practice exercises, which include reading a book, writing new words, and playing a simple multiple-choice game. After successfully completing all activities in a level, students earn medals and the opportunity to advance to the next level.

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While the structured activities break down the content and ensure students gain a comprehensive understanding of the language, English Club also limits how students can learn. Yes, students will find multiple ways to learn and practice new letters, sounds, and words, but they can only do it in a specific order. There's no skipping ahead in a lesson or even skipping over a lesson to get to more challenging content. Instead, kids must successfully complete all of the activities in a lesson in order to move ahead. Additionally, the design of the app feels cumbersome and potentially confusing for English learners. The comprehension skills of the target audience may be too limited to understand the lengthy tutorial and instructional videos.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
2

Colorful, comic book-style characters draw learners in. However, lengthy instructions and a complicated interface could make navigation a challenge -- especially for English learners or young kids.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Developers put a lot of thought into the process behind the content and cover many dimensions of language learning. Unfortunately, the approach limits the types of learners who will benefit from the app.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Step-by-step instructions and an animated narrator guide kids as they go through the activities. Data tracks kids' achievements, but much of the data tracking is only available when logged in to Game Center.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Lisa S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Kentucky Country Day School
Louisville, KY
3
Useful Tool for Guided Review for English Language Learners but Limited Engagement

Information is geared for younger students or students who need review of basic English skills. Students in upper elementary and middle school may find the information repetitive. For example, the pink boxes contains videos that review grammar usage (such as usage of capital letters). Students who already understand the idea cannot skip and must watch the entire video to clear the level.
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<i>English Club</i> has important content, but lacks engagement. Once the free levels are completed, you may wish to purchase additional level packs since revisiting completed levels may not hold students' interest. The app also has some glitches that might prove frustrating for students at times. For example, on Level 2, the last tip video did not immediately display a "thumbs up" option and it was difficult to move on until it loaded.
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The app would be best used in short sessions to prevent students from losing interest. It would work best for students working one-on-one or in small groups with a teacher. Using it as part of guided instruction would help ensure students are working on the activities as intended. For example, the Writing Board activity does not check that the word written is spelled correctly and other activities allow students to tap through quickly to get to the next screen.
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The app does some things well. On the game activities, students have the option to play untimed, with a time limit, or with three chances. This differentiation allows students to play in the way that is most engaging for them. In additional the lessons are very structured and once students understand how the lessons work, they may move through them more quickly. I think structure is one of the strengths of the game, but more flexibility and changes in activities within each level would keep students coming back to the lessons.

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