Saturday, February 22, 2014

App Review! Language Trainer from Smarty Ears

Hello!  We continue to use apps daily during our speech and language therapy sessions and that means that we are always happy to try out a new one in order to see if it will be a new addition to our daily therapy tool box. So we were excited to find out that Smarty Ears has developed a shiny new app and that we could have the opportunity to review it for our very own blog audience!

This new app by Smarty Ears is called, "Language Trainer" and we have had the opportunity to both use it with several grade school students and two adult aphasic clients at the speech clinic in the last few weeks.  It is with this recent history behind our belts that we are now ready to confidentially say that we are ready to write a new app review! So without further a do.... Here's our review on the Language Trainer app by Smarty Ears!

This app is a lot of bang for the buck because you are granted FOUR different activities to do and not just one activity like some language apps! All four activities do a great job at eliciting verbal responses in our students and older adult aphasic clients and we did not have some of these activities on other apps on our iPad yet.  Finding that out right away made us just giddy with excitement as both our clients and us love new treatment materials and especially those that come on an iPad! 

The four different activities include: Picture Identification, Picture Naming, Divergent Naming, and Sentence Completion.

Right off the bat we were given the chance to add a user using a fun Avatar provided by the app or a picture from our iPad photo library.  We were also able to easily tap into Settings to pick pictures and levels for the up-incoming activities.  Modifying the data base is quick and easy and we both appreciated the chance to add our own individual students one at a time and to pick their needed levels for two of the activities.  Please note: We did not notice the ability to change the levels for two of the activities: Divergent Naming and Sentence Completion. We also noticed that only one player can use this app at a time. That is just fine with us because we do not do group therapy at the clinic. We see everyone one- on -one! 

Here is a picture of a typical screen seen in the Picture Identification activity.  The pictures that are provided are vibrant and clear.  Smarty Ears does a very nice job with providing high-quality pictures that are never confused with other objects.  I used the picture identification activity with my younger students.  They were given an audio prompt to select a correct picture and then they pressed the picture.  I also encouraged them to say the picture that they chose.  This was a great way to looks at the student's vocabulary, direction following, and verbal repetition skills. 

One of the activities is called, Picture Naming and we enjoyed this activity a lot. In the Picture Naming activity, a large and colorful picture was shown to the student/client and then they were asked to name it.  Thus, this activity gave us client data for the target area of picture naming. We never saw the pictures repeat and we noticed that all of the pictures were clear and colorful.  In fact, we later read that Smarty Ears had put 300 images into the app.  Isn't that a lot?! Well, that would explain the ability to see such a large variety of pictures! 

During both activities, a pleasant voice gave the audio prompts.  A not so pleasant sound occurred for incorrect responses and that sound made the little ones jump! We just turned that sound off in the options area under Settings though.   

The students were asked to either name or identify the pictures shown on the screen. These activities were very helpful for work with Manda's current aphasic client who is experiencing expressive aphasia from a very recent stroke.  They worked on naming the pictures shown, and Manda even expanded the exercises after to ask the client to also gesture and/or demonstrate the verb shown or the use of the object.  This approach was a friendly reminder to the aphasic individual to use all means possible to communicate his wants and needs such as speech, gesture, and writing. 

This is picture of the Divergent Naming exercise.  The student/client was asked to name two things in a given category.  A drop down menu was provided for the two items that were meant to be named.  Even though the students liked clicking on the green check buttons when they named an item in the given category, they did often report back to us that they thought that the task was not as much fun as the two previous ones and some of the more polite students just asked how many did they have to do until they were finished.  They did not see a running count.  They like seeing the visual of how many they have finished and how many more they have to do. Even though the activity is not colorful and/or have the student play a game of some sort while answering, we still loved the therapy premise that that each student was getting a good therapy session of working on divergent naming skills. In conclusion, we think that they just missed the colorful pictures that they had seen on the first two activities and the usual game like activities that we often play during speech therapy while targeting such a goal. 


The fourth activity is called Sentence Completion.  We loved this activity because it has brought our heads out off our old aphasia treatment books that we have used way too many times in the past and into a much more modern treatment activity.  We especially could see that our adult clients enjoyed the professional look of an activity on an iPad vs. their boring ole' worksheets that they have seen day after day!  This of course was another very good activity for my client with expressive aphasia and Shanda reported that she elicited some great responses from her younger students with apraxia.  The initial visual, phonemic and content cues provided were helpful for getting the students started on a verbal response to end a sentence that was sometimes just one word, but other times several words! This activity progressed to more difficult levels like the previous Divergent naming Activity did too, and we were able to keep track of correct vs. incorrect responses by clicking on the arrow or X boxes. 

Another feature that we would like to mention is the audio recording feature. Picture Naming, Divergent Naming, and Sentence Completion all provide a built-in audio recorder to encourage and assist with fluency, self-monitoring, and skill discussion. Shanda has a lot of fluency students on her caseload and I have been seeing a lot of students and adults who need to work on sentence length and higher verbal expression skills so we thought that the audio recording feature was especially cool!  With that ability the tasks can be monitored more closely by the actual student or adult.  It is very helpful for them to hear themselves speak and to realize what they actually sound like during their speech productions. 

This last picture shows the wonderful report section of the app.  We love how the summary of the results of the treatment session can be easily printed out or emailed. That is always such a nice report to have!  We often share those emails with the students parents or print it out for our own soft files at the clinic and use them for reference when writing progress notes. The data includes: date of practice, activity, number of attempted targets, and percent accuracy. In addition, a Notes button provides the option to write a note about the session.

Things to know:
This app has 4 activities that help to elicit verbal productions.
This app provides a ton of colorful high quality images.
This app lets you collect data on your student and stores it.
This app lets you print out reports of the work done.
This app will let you customize two activities to greater or lessor difficulty levels
This app is a great one to have for helping to advance verbal expression skills!
This app is a great one to have for working on divergent naming skills!
This app works well for children working on naming and with trying to say more than one word in a row.
This app is an awesome one to have for adults with expressive aphasia.
This app can print out reports of your therapy data obtained during each session. 
This app provides verbal prompts and the ability to hear them repeated. 
This app does not provide a reward or earned token for completion of tasks. 
This app does not provide a game or interactive activity that helps to engage the youngest student. 
This app can be used with a wide range of clients from young to old.

Thank you for stopping by our blog today to read this app review of Language Trainer by Smarty Ears!  If you are interested in finding out more about Language Trainer or if you want to purchase it yourself, click on this link to find out more information!  We see that it is currently $14.99 and that it can be downloaded to your iPad or iPhone. 

Thank you to Smarty Ears for developing another wonderful app to be used in our speech therapy sessions!  We love your company and how well you cater to the everyday busy speech-language pathologist who is working hard to teach speech and language skills in today's goal packed and time constrained therapy sessions. 

Manda & Shanda, SLPs
Twin Sisters Speech & Language Therapy LLC

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