Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2014
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Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Word Builder - English Reading and Spanish Speaking Ages 3 - 6

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Sweet early-literacy games introduce English phonics and Spanish vocab

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • World Languages
  • English Language Learning

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Levels get progressively more challenging as kids learn.

Cons: Toy rewards aren't integrated into the activities or learning, and the learning report shows only general progress.

Bottom Line: Kids learn Spanish and practice phonics while having silly fun.

Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Word Builder would work nicely in a bilingual kindergarten class, giving all students a challenging activity that can grow as they do. In a 1-to-1 environment, teachers can monitor each student's progress. In a classroom with only one or a few tablets, though, teachers could offer the app as a station for kids to work on. Since kids do pronounce the Spanish words aloud and the microphone needs to pick up on pronounications, however, kids will need a quiet area to work, which may be tricky in many classrooms. 

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Rosetta Stone Kids Lingo Word Builder is created by the developers of the Rosetta Stone language programs. The two-part app includes American English phonics and Spanish vocabulary. In Word Builder, kids progress through three levels of English phonics. In the first and second levels, they drag letters into place to create real words in the consonant-vowel-consonant format. In the third level, they drag correct letters into place to build a specific word. In Speak & Learn, they choose from word themes, see an animation of a word to demonstrate its meaning, hear it in Spanish, and then say the word themselves. In-app purchases were included in the past and could be included in the future, but as of this review, all content is free.

As kids progress through the word banks, games become more challenging, advancing from filling in the first letter of a word to building complete words, and from hearing instructions in English and repeating a Spanish word to hearing all instructions in Spanish. The content itself is great, and progression through the skills -- especially progressing to hearing instructions in Spanish -- keeps kids challenged. Teachers can manually set levels to increase the challenge, or kids can play and advance on their own. To access the Parent's Corner, teachers have to share their email address. Only then can they manually adjust challenge levels for each activity and see a progress report. Pronunciation accuracy can be adjusted in the Parent's Corner to easy, normal, or hard, but even the hardest level lets mispronunciations slide. Kids earn toys to display on a shelf as they complete levels, but the toys play no part in the activities -- they seem tacked-on rather than integrated into the learning process.

Overall Rating

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

The high-quality design includes engaging voice narration and cute characters, but the repetitive activities may not keep kids engaged.

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

Combining both English phonics and Spanish vocabulary for kids in the language acquisition phase of development is really smart. Bilingual classrooms could incorporate the app for all students.

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

Reports on kids' progress shows how far they've progressed through the phonics levels, although there's no report for the Spanish words. Only one student's progress per device can be tracked on the app and in the report.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Margaret A P. , Other
The Agnes Irwin School
Rosemont, PA
A fun way to engage with the Spanish language and reinforce reading skills
As a teaching tool, I think the app holds a lot of potential because of the controls in the Parent Section. From there, you can control the amount of English/Spanish introduced (it increases automatically as students' pronunciation improves) and you can track the progress of students in the Word Builder section. The Word Builder section also breaks down the different levels of understanding and ability so you can measure yourself how the students are doing. In the Settings, you can control the pronunciation accuracy, changing the sensitivity to fit different students' Spanish speaking abilities. I like that the app brings together both Spanish and English practice and uses games to introduce vocabulary and engage students in interacting with the content instead of passively receiving it. The responsiveness of the app (growing with the student) and the different levels (e.g, 1-3) in the Word Builder section make the app more robust and valuable in the classroom to both differentiate and be useful over a longer period of time. I'm a bit hesitant about students earning toys for their "Toy Shelf" in the app as they progress/succeed. I don't think those rewards are needed because the success of having the characters respond is enough reinforcement for most students and I wish there was a way to set up different student accounts. The app does do a great job providing audio and visual instructions for pre-literate students.
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