Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2013
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Learn Spanish - MindSnacks

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Speed's the name of the game in motivating language-learning app

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
5-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Artsy interface and quick pace are great for speed demons who want to learn fast.

Cons: Pressure might be too much for some kids.

Bottom Line: Visually engaging language learning will be motivating for intense learners but stressful for others.

You can use Learn Spanish - MindSnacks to reinforce foreign language visual and auditory vocabulary recognition and spelling. Teachers can assign MindSnacks as individual daily homework or extra credit on home-based devices, or for classroom free time. Since multiple users can log in via the same Internet-connected device, you could also set up a single-device learning station. Although the games are essentially single-user oriented, teachers could facilitate a whole-class competition where students compete for active days, lessons finished, or number of words mastered.

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Learn Spanish - MindSnacks offers 50 vocabulary-based lessons with nine games, motivational quests, and constant leveling. After registering via email or Facebook, users create a profile by self-selecting an existing knowledge level, work through a brief pop-up style tutorial, then launch into a lesson on numbers. Students can listen to pronunciations from the current lesson, review mastered words, choose from 20-plus subsequent lessons, or play games to unlock more. Players level up and achieve quests by playing games without mistakes or hitting high scores. Two vocabulary matching games are available at the beginning: In "Swell," players must select the correct match faster each time before the water level falls, killing a sweet little fish. Three mistakes and it's curtains. "Belly" is a simple matching game where a frog snatches correct answers with a fantastically long tongue. Success unlocks more games like "Word Birds," a spelling game where players must select letters for target words.

Players can share on Facebook in-app (unless disabled in settings), reset their progress, or share with a different user. The Skills page is a bit mystifying and needs clarification. Other language-learning titles in the series include French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.

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Learn Spanish - MindSnacks will definitely help gaming-oriented kids improve foreign-language vocabulary and have fun in the process. Constant repetition, jazzy graphics, and hip tunes, plus quests and challenges, keep intense, goal-oriented kids striving for more. The app keeps track of words mastered, number of days active, streaks, and total lessons finished. Since the name of the game is speed, this app is great for some but not all kids. Kids with reading challenges are not likely to do well with "Word Birds," which mixes up letters, or "Bloon," since text bounces around and changes angles constantly.

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Overall Rating
3

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

Hip graphics, jazzy tunes, and fast-paced challenges and quests create a fun arcade atmosphere.

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

Most of the games are single-player and emphasize speed or scramble, which will not support some kids' learning styles.

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

Overall, the interface is well-organized, but it buries lesson selection. Players get access to a good amount of performance data.


Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Mara G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Greenbush-Middle River Senior High School
Greenbush, MN
4
Fun app to practice Spanish vocabulary

Mind Snacks Spanish requires a log in to save progress, but beyond that could be used with any age group. As with many language apps, students will not "learn" a language from this, but will be able to practice and reinforce vocabulary groups such as foods, months, or numbers. It is superficial in content, but fun and engaging nonetheless. At times I have noticed the app to be glitchy, crashing and the sound not working. This can vary with updates of course. It also has a handy "switch user" choice to allow someone else to log in, which is useful if iPads are shared in a classroom. Overall it is a fun and engaging app, and worth the time and investment.

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