Useful Tool for Guided Review for English Language Learners but Limited Engagement
How I Use ItEnglish Club is primarily designed for ELL students. Two levels come with the free version of the app. Downloading and installing the English language levels takes some time (just over seven minutes for me).
The main screen is a bookshelf with boxes representing the various levels available for play. Levels must be completed in order and locked levels display a padlock on the front. When the app begins, a character named Frannie introduces herself as our English Club guide. There is a video tutorial which can be watched, but even if skipped, users must watch three introduction videos before they can begin Level 1.
Levels start on a screen with a desk containing the activities that are available. The format is the same for each; review skills previously learned, learn new material, and practice.
Activities are represented by colored boxes. Students are taught letter combinations and sounds, grammar and usage rules, and new vocabulary. Completed boxes are moved to a shelf above the desk and are checked off on a whiteboard list on the wall.
When all the boxes are shelved, three new activities appear on the desk. Students must read a story using the letters and words learned, write words on a writing board, and play a game to earn points and achievements. They must earn at least 2000 points in the game before the level is marked as complete. After Level 1, students must clear a purple box of review cards before repeating the steps above for the new level.
When completing the levels, it is not exactly clear what to do to complete some activities at first. For example, when working on the white boxes, students must tap the "flip" icon to turn letter cards over and complete the activities on the other side. They need to click a "thumbs up" icon to put a stamp on the current card to confirm they understand the concept shown. If students forget and exit the screen before doing so, they sometimes must complete the activity again.
My TakeInformation 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.
English Club 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.
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.
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.