Phonology: An iPhone/iPad app from Learning Fundamentals
Phonology: App TourThe Phonology app is a simple to use, yet full-featured app that puts a large set of words with word, phrase, and sentence level audio prompts at your fingertips. Let's take a look at what the screen looks like when you're actually doing therapy.
Each target word is presented as a simple color picture. You may choose to have the word displayed in text below the picture or you may turn that off. Below the picture are several types of prompts. From left to right: "W" plays a high quality audio prompt of the word, "P" plays a short phrase, "S" plays a simple sentence prompt, "Lp" plays the word with a long pause between the target phoneme and the rest of the word, "Sp" plays the word with a short pause between the target phoneme and the rest of the word, and "Ex" plays the word with the target phoneme exaggerated. These six audio prompts are available for every word included in the program.
Above the picture you see a microphone symbol and a speaker symbol. Click on the microphone and wait a moment for it to turn red. Then have the child say the word (or phrase or sentence). Click on the microphone again to turn off the recording. The speaker icon will turn green and you can play back their production for them. You can redo the recording as many times as you like. This feature is simple, useful, and very motivating for the children.
Once the child has made the production you click on the icons at the very bottom to tally scoring data. You can do this multiple times so if you're having a child do sets of three, for example, you can tally their accuracy all three times before moving on to the next word.
In the options you can choose from two different data collection schemes. The first is spontaneous correct/incorrect and imitated correct/incorrect. The second is correct/distortion/incorrect. You simply touch the symbol to record the type of response the student produced.
The settings menu is simple. There is a great set of instructions. The phonological process tab allows you to go in and choose the specific processes you want to work on in the session. You can even choose specific phonemes. If you're working on initial consonant deletion, yet your child cannot make an initial /k/, you can choose to include all initial phonemes except initial /k/. That is a level of customization most apps do not allow and yet is extremely useful.
You can view the target word lists. The options screen allows you to enter the child's name so that a name will be attached to your results data. You can also choose whether to have the word appear in text below the picture. The options screen allows you to reset the scoring data so that you can switch to another student or to a new set of phonemes. This is also where you choose which scoring scheme you want to use.
The results page is pretty simple. It is a simple record of the number of response types you tallied and the phonemes/phonological processes you were working on. It does not calculate percentages for you. If you were working on multiple phonemes or processes, it does not separate out the data for your different targets. I would love to see a more full featured results screen in a future update. (I believe that Learning Fundamentals is working on adding this functionality to their apps and will be adding this feature to future updates quite soon.)
Phonology: Phonological Processes and Phonemes IncludedThe app addresses four of the most common phonological processes:
- initial consonant deletion (/k, l, r/)
- final consonant deletion (/p, t, k, ps, ts, ks, m, n, er/)
- cluster reduction (/s, l, and r/ clusters)
- syllable reduction (2-syllable words, 3-syllable words)
The app does a wonderful job of addressing final consonant deletion and cluster reduction. The word lists for those processes are deep and the level of customization is impressive. Initial consonant deletion is only addressed through three initial phonemes and those phonemes (k, l, and r) are ones that would be difficult for children exhibiting initial consonant deletion as a phonological process. It would be challenging to address initial consonant deletion with those three specific phonemes as the only initial phoneme categories included in the set. The word sets for the two and three syllable words are relatively short (7 words each), so syllable reduction is addressed in this app with a relatively limited set of targets. By going into the options and choosing initial /l/ and initial /r/ you could work on gliding too although that is not explicitly listed as one of the phonological processes addressed in the app.
Phonology: General ImpressionsI liked this app a lot. I like the simplicity of design. I think their pictures are well chosen and their audio prompts are extremely well done. I love the ability to make an audio recording of the child's production and play it back for them. Keeping scoring data is simple and I like being able to make multiple tallies per word before moving to the next word. I particularly like being able to customize the specific phonemes used to work on the phonological processes so that I am not forced to include phonemes that are too difficult for a particular student.
If the phonological processes you're looking to work on are final consonant deletion, cluster reduction, or gliding (all extremely common) this is an great app for you. If you want to work on initial consonant deletion using /k, r, and l/ or syllable reduction using a small set of words those phonological processes are included in a more limited fashion. If you need any of the other phonological processes they aren't going to be found in this particular app.
Most of the words included in this app are one-syllable words which is great. Many are simple CVC words which means that this app can be very useful for people working with children with more severe speech delays.
One drawback, is that the app is not set up to handle groups. You will pretty much need to work with a student individually or taking turns. Whenever you switch students you'll need to save and then reset your scoring data before starting with then next student. Perhaps in a future update, they'll figure out a way for you to enter multiple students and have the app take turns keeping separate scoring data sets.
One final area that I think could use improvement is their results and scoring. I would like to see the results screen calculate percentages. I would also love to have it sort out the scores for the different phonemes/phonological processes. I also do not find "incorrect" to be a useful scoring category. I'd rather have correct, distortion, substitution, and omission as scoring options. The results screen would give me a percentage correct/incorrect with incorrect being the distortion, substitution, and omission categories all combined. Then, I'd like the percent breakdown of the types of errors within the incorrect category. Perhaps that could also be an improvement in a future update. (I believe Learning Fundamentals is working on pushing out this improvement to at least some of their apps very soon.)
Phonology: Bottom LineThis is a great app for final consonant deletion, cluster reduction, and gliding (in initial position) if you don't need it to be a great tool in groups. It can also be of some use for practicing syllable reduction with a limited number of targets (14 total) and initial consonant deletion (only with initial /l, r, and k/). I continue to feel that the Learning Fundamentals speech apps are some of the best I've seen in terms of their ease of use, breadth of targets, and quality of pictures and audio prompts. The portability of the iPhone/iPad format is an added bonus.
Minimal Pairs: An iPhone/iPad app from Learning Fundamentals
Minimal Pairs: App TourThe Minimal Pairs app presents two minimal pair pictures at a time and asks the child to touch one of the two pictures. You could use this app as receptive auditory discrimination practice, or ask the children to produce one of the two words and work on production. Minimal pair categories addressed include initial consonant deletion (/k, l, r/), final consonant deletion (/k, n, p, t/) and /s/-cluster reduction (/sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw/).
The app presents two pictures at a time (ex: bow, bone). When the pictures appear, an audio prompt will instruct, "Show me ______." The child can tap on the picture and hear the word associated with that picture. The therapist can score responses by tapping on icons at the bottom of the screen. You will need to decide ahead of time if you are scoring correct/incorrect auditory discrimination vs. correct/distorted/incorrect productions. You can choose to have small boxes appear below the pictures. If you tap on those boxes, you can get visual feedback about performance on the auditory discrimination task separately from the scoring at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately, the app does not keep track of those checkboxes for reporting purposes, so it is not useful for data collection. In the future, I would love to see this app incorporate a correct/substitution/distortion/omission format for data collection on productions at the bottom of the screen and also track the correct/incorrect checkboxes and report that data in the reporting form for tracking auditory discrimination accuracy.
My children really enjoyed playing with this app. They enjoyed the interactive elements. They liked swiping to see the next set of pictures. They liked tapping on the picture to choose the presented word. They liked recording themselves saying a word and listening to their own productions. The app is simple, yet intrinsically rewarding for a child to play with in the context of speech practice.