Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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Idioms

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Speedy quizzes, extensive glossary explore figures of speech

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learning
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Solid study and search features make for easy review, and quiz questions offer challenges.

Cons: Some definitions' awkward English might further frustrate English language learners. Quiz question feedback focuses more on speed than reflection.

Bottom Line: A simple tool for browsing and exploring idioms -- best suited for more sophisticated users, best used with expert context.

Have kids explore the glossary and build their own favorites list, either picking out unfamiliar idioms or gathering a collection of idioms that share a common term or theme. Have kids install the free version of the app on their devices and use it as a reference guide to support reading novels, poems, and short stories. 

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Idioms is a database of commonly used English-language idioms. From the home page, users can choose the Study or Search pages to browse and explore a list of idioms. Selecting an item from the list displays the idiom, its meaning, and an example that uses the term in a sentence. Users can mark an idiom as a "favorite" and create a list of most-used idioms for later review. There's also a Topics page where users can review idioms by category (like Clothes and Colors and Food). The test feature lets users take a fifty-question multiple-choice quiz on idioms. Each round of quiz questions is followed by detailed feedback that includes the time users spent on each question and which questions were right and wrong. 

The Top 100 Idioms and Animals topics and their corresponding quizzes are available with the free version of the app. Users get full access to all seven topics and their quizzes with the paid version. Both the paid and free versions give users access to the full list of idioms.

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Quizzes are well-designed: Answer choices include similar-sounding words, helping ELL students start to detect the nuances they'll need to gain fluency. The feedback at the end of the quiz is also rich: Users can see which questions they answered correctly and how quickly they responded. However, there's much more emphasis placed on speed than on mastery: Users have to wait for the end of the 50-question quiz to see their results. Users can turn on an instant feedback feature, but this only displays a graphic X or checkmark, not the right answer. It would be even better if users could experience the quiz in a format that gave immediate, detailed feedback. It would also be great if users could take quizzes that target the idioms they've added to their favorites list.

Keep in mind that some antiquated English phrases are included here; for example, the phrase "his countenance fell" appears as an example sentence. There's not much context offered to the English-language learner who might not sense which terms are used in modern speech and writing. Users can glean those insights through the Topics page, but tagging the individual entries with that level of detail would be a big help. Slightly more information about the context for using these idioms -- in business, in literature, or in informal speech--could make this an even more valuable tool. Additionally, the categories themselves (like business, legal, and negotiations) suggest that this app is geared more toward adults than kids. While older kids might find this useful, it's not an especially scaffolded way for younger kids to access this content.

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Overall Rating

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

The simple design might appeal to some older users, but middle school and high school students might need more direction.

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

It's great that you can save idioms to favorites for later review. More quizzes plus better feedback options would have a higher impact.

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

Straightforward navigation makes for easy use.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jeff D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Millard Elementary School
Fremont, CA
Nice resource for finding idioms and their meanings.

This is a simple resource that provides students with basic information about idioms. I would use the "Lite" version and probably not spend any money purchasing the premium features. I don't think my students would use or find benefit in these features. However, they could use the Lite version as a start to finding idioms to use in their writing.

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