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Monday, October 04, 2010

Vocabulary Building: Free Ap Review

Ap Review: Vocabulary Builders

Being a big nerdy fan of expanding minds, including my vocabulary, I decided to download all the free vocabulary building aps I could have patience for... And then review them in order to choose the one that will sit on my device desktop. And yes, I know I need to hone my grammar.

I am testing not only builders but quiz aps and games, as I am looking for anything to help build vocabulary. I will be rating each on word difficulty and amount, presentation, ease of use, and how well you can learn from the program.

Vocabolistic, iPhone, iPad, iPod
First impression: this was designed for the iPhone, and also designed casually. Advertising lines the bottom of the interface and helps this stay free so it isn't as annoying when that input into perspective. You have gear icons that are the settings, a Home icon on the right for when you want to go back from the word lists and quizzes.
What I like at first use is the fact that you can select words from those you haven't yet read from those you already have read.
It is a basic program but has great word learning value in terms of personal study. There is a quiz function. I am definitely keeping this one.
The amount of words is more than satisfactory, the difficulty too, and can be browsed alphabetically by using the letters on the right side of the word list like a scroller. Easy to use, clean, and simple. You can pick up and use it without tutorials.
The definitions, however, are short and basic. You have the basic definition in a handful of words, then you have antonyms and synonyms.
Oh and I love that you can rate words by difficulty next to the quiz button. Sweet. Then you can access words by your ratings... Hard, medium and easy.

Next, we have Articulate!
Made for the iPhone but compatible with iPad and iPod, rectangle interface.
At first I was enamored with this, but then it stopped working (connectivity issues, saying I wasn't connected to the net.) I will keep an eye on future bug fixes.
If this works for you, I recommend trying it. It is a vocabulary quiz. Multiple choice. Great words, as far as I could tell before it stopped working. I will update this if and when The program works.

Vocabulary Bubble Free, Game, iPad, iPod, iPhone , designed for iPhone by Donoma Games.
Cool game. Easy to use, easy to pick up, colorful. You can even sign up to submit your scores. Competition is great for learning, and so this is definitely a plus.
Here is how you play... you are faced with a definition at the top of the screen (horizontal iPhone format, no gyro) which you must match to words floating about in colorful bubbles. There is a time limit, so you must pick quickly. Correct answers gets you additional time. When you run out of time, a final score will appear. The time limit adds to the learning experience greatly, quickening the mind with a frenzied kick to the bum... So to speak. But it is more memorization than comprehension. As a word builder on it's own you will not get that full-flavored comprehension aspect.
Definitely a great way to quiz if you are fast enough, and even if you aren't, it'll make you faster at recognizing and defining on the spot.. Very useful in conversation.
After using this for only (twenty) minutes my score quadrupled. Impressive little ap.

Next we have AccelaStudy, for iPhone, iPod, iPad. Rectangle format.
100 words in this free version. Satisfactory length of definition, but it also has the great feature of saying the word aloud for pronunciation. This is extensively important when using new words in conversation. How painfully embarrassing mispronouncing a difficult word you are proud of learning! This is something the perfect vocabulary builder would have.
There is also the wonderful context function which gives two sentences in which the word is properly used.
There is a quiz function, very basic and dry, but useful and mature.
You can study the words either through:
Book format: flip thru the hundred words.
Flashcards: you'll hear the word through your speakers and see e definition on the screen, then touching the screen you see the word written. By turning off the pronunciation, this can be a great def to word quiz for yourself. By sliding on the screen you can then get to the next def.
Repetition: including pronunciation spoken by the human male and clear voice, where you get the word then the def after a tapping on screen and are prompted with the def and a prompt asking if you got it right. I really like this function, and it works quite well. Words you get wrong are repeated more often than words you get right. Great.
The difficulty of the words is satisfactory, however a high level diction honing student will not get too excited. The pay version would certainly be something that you should check out.. And so far that is something I am considering, however I want to check out more freebies first for this article.
The presentation is satisfactory but nothing exciting, which isn't that important in a freebie vocal builder review at all. Or a study ap for that matter, however it is nice to have. Clean and well defined, organized.
You can work out a study plan, view your quiz stats, and search for particular words.
Overall this is definitely a good intro to word building, but you will quickly hunger for more.

Next, PrepInteractive's Wordology Lite
There are two versions of this program: Graduate and normal. Graduate being a bit harder, and has no video section. (video section has videos pertaining to SATs) both contain a Facebook that goes directly to their messages, which have vocabulary honing skills, the videos mentioned, and links etc.
Overall presentation is nice, simple, clean. Student theme. Easy to navigate. Clever but not overdone.
The quizzes are twofold. A self test flashcard quiz, on actual flashcard graphics.
The word amount is small but adequate for the function of a demo. Thus you will not be spending hours studying on this. The second test is a multiple choice fill in the blanks, that is, it gives you a sentence and you fill in the blanks with the word that should fit there. I love that test, great learning tool.
Either can be studied on different levels if difficulty.
There is also a clever report card function that displays your scores thus far. It also gives you a grad to either shame you into harder word or to encourage your pride with a high score.
In difficulty, the graduate program has more difficult words than the normal. The words are challenging but not daunting by any stretch. It also is less difficult as the word lists are short enough to memorize in a day easily.
Small but this does it's job of making me want to buy the full program. But first, on with the two last aps I found.

Btw if you have an ap you want to add to this, please leave the name in the comments and I'll get to it asap.

Vocabulous is another iPhone, iPod, iPad compatible ap. It is extremely simple..
You get a word and a definition on different colored screens, an ad at the bottom, and tapping the screen changes word.
The difficulty is easy, although there are some specialization words that aren't difficult.. They are just not used regularly, in conversation or normal vocabulary builders.
Some of the definitions aren't quite on, but for the most part they are, and some of the words leave you wondering why they were included.
Presentation is simple and clean. Big letters.
This isn't what I was looking for but it would be a great tool for grade school or even high school.

Lastly, till I find more, My Vocab Builder by Amy... iPod iPad, and iPhone compatible. Rectangle, no gyro like the rest of the programs I've spoken of I this article.
I like this right away. Big word list, great presentation, and useable as a quiz too, as it is the flashcard style of builder.
There are ads at the bottom, no biggie.
No pronunciation. No records, no games. That is also okay.
In fact, my only issue with this program is that you either have to go thru a letter at a time the full way trough each letter, or remember which word you left on in each letter and go through the scrolling at the bottom till you find it. However, there is also a shuffle button between the bottom scrolling buttons that mixes up the words in the chosen letter.
Word difficulty is all over the place.. Easy to challenging words in every letter category. I find there are a lot of words that could be removed and only the root word remaining.
Word amount is wonderful for a free version, but we must take into account the words doubled through suffix adding that barely changes the definition.

In my opinion, Vocabolistic is the best out of the free programs. It's not just a demo, it is something you could really use for months and challenge yourself with. I am keeping the Vocabulary Bubble free, and AccelaStudy. The former for the speed training, the latter for pronunciation study.

Sorry if this article was all over the place cohesion wise, but this is a test for myself to see if I could write these often enough to apply to a job reviewing aps I found. The medication I take can make writing a massive challenge.. But I love challenges and I am pleased to try anything to help. I also hope this was helpful

A note on comments..
I enjoy constructive criticism greatly, so feel free to post a comment on my article or suggestions.. But keep in mind I am heavily medicated and I will screw up quite a bit. I strive to at least make some sense.

UPDATED. March 29 2011.

Vocabology: a great new app that features several "word of the day" entries from various sites such as Yahoo Education, Miriam-Webster, and It lets you tag words as favorites for later study and even has a quiz feature. There are even Word of the Day entries for: French, Spanish, German, Portugese and Italian. Very cool, will post a note here if I find bugs. -iPhone, iPad, iTouch

Hugs and happy apping!

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