Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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LanguageBuilderDeluxe

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Audio, visual prompts help boost kids' communication skills

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-3
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)
4

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: The images are engaging and provide kids with many ideas for elaboration.

Cons: No feedback is offered, so kids must have interaction with an adult to evaluate their sentences.

Bottom Line: LanguageBuilderDeluxe is a useful tool for teaching and learning language skills, especially if adults are nearby to adjust app settings and provide feedback.

LanguageBuilderDeluxe is a must-have for speech pathologists working in schools, but teachers can use it in mixed ability classrooms, too. Use it one-on-one to work with students on developing expressive language. The images and hints provided work especially well for kids with speech delays,  English-language learners, or kids on the autism spectrum or with sensory-processing disorders. Also use the images as whole-class writing prompts with scaffolding built in. Show the image to the whole class -- kids working on verbal expressive language can respond verbally; other kids can respond in writing using Level 1, 2, or 3 hints, per their ability level. Keep in mind that kids will be verbally responding to cues from the device, so they'll need to be in an area free from much background noise.

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With LanguageBuilderDeluxe, teachers can set up profiles for multiple kids and adjust the hint difficulty level and photo theme. During app play, kids see a picture and hear the prompt "Make a sentence about the picture." If hints are turned on, kids can tap a hint button. For Level 1 hints, kids see a sentence with a couple of blanks to fill in. Level 2 hints are open-ended sentence starters such as "The boys...." For Level 3 hints, kids hear suggested vocabulary words to use. Kids record their sentence and must play it back before moving to the next picture. The archive section keeps all of the sentences saved by each user, and you can email those sentences to parents or others.

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The concept behind LanguageBuilderDeluxe is pretty simple, but the design makes the whole process of language expression development elegant. It takes care of planning by providing the images and prompts. It covers paperwork by tracking and storing sentences in the archives. And it handles differentiation by providing three levels of prompts. It isn't for totally independent use, though kids can easily navigate recording and saving on their own. They will need some monitoring of sentences and feedback from teachers to access their sentences and move to higher levels.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The images are beautiful, the interface is very easy to navigate, and hearing their own voice is pretty fun for kids.

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

While the settings are very customizable, kids will need interaction and evaluation from a teacher or parent to see the full benefits.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

A video tutorial demonstrates how it works. The three levels and auditory cues help work for kids at many language levels.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Marcello S. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary School
San Jose, CA
3
Powerful when paired with a teacher.

This is a great app for students with low speaking skills and for ELL's, I use it with students in both groups. The e-mailing is only useful as a portfolio type feature to keep track of the progress of students (But that is a really great feature, you can see your student speaking and vocab improve through the year and have an audio portfolio of it!). The e-mail feature is not useful as a daily check on student work, correcting them the next day isn't as powerful as being there while their exploring the picture and ideas. I do love that the recordings are e-mailed with the picture they refer to. This is a powerful tool when used with you and a student. It does create ready made schema building situations and the recording is engaging for students. I wish it had more vocab help words, full examples sentences, or even videos on each situation to build even more vocabulary! These extras would make it more useful as a tool for students to use on their own. Also it would be great for recordings to be saved with photos, so the next time through a student can hear what other students said or what they themselves said last time (this is a feature on the iPad version I believe). All my ratings take into account independent student use and teacher/student use, if I just considered teacher and student using the app together it would get 4's across the board, 5's if it did more scaffolding and had more recording features.

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