Beef up your arsenal with these syntax apps

iBooks and PDF readers are extremely useful tools whenever your activities for the day include working on English syntax.  We don’t know about you, but some of our kids eventually don’t find it entertaining to go through .pdf material and learn grammar the usual ‘book’ way.

Thanks to our fellow SLP, Nancy L., we got screenshots of her app collection on her iPad and checked out the apps that she had so painstakingly picked out at the App Store:

  • Preposition Remix by Smarty Ears ($9.99) SLP-designed and made, the app contains 20 of the most commonly used English prepositions, with options that allows one to toggle certain prepositions off/on, thereby customizing the lesson for each kid.  Read our review here.
  • Practice English Grammar 2 by CrowdUni (FREE) this one is a treasure trove!
  • Verbs Game Lite by Mobion (lite version, thus FREE)
  • GetAcross Free (uh… FREE) helps your client learn prepositions and phrasal verbs by making the character cross rivers, lava flows, and canyons
  • Grammar Up: Phrasal Verbs by Eknath Kadam ($2.99) with 26 topics and 750 multiple choice questions with explanation
  • GRE Vocab Study Aid by Mansoor Jafri (FREE) carries 700 high-frequency words in flashcard format and reviews are done via a quiz game
  • Verb Mayhem Series by Generate Learning were designed to help develop and improve children’s skills in recognizing parts of speech:
    • Verb Mayhem 1 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 7-year old kids
    • Verb Mayhem 2 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 8-9 year kids or those who have had 3-4 years of reading English
    • Verb Mayhem 3 ($2.99) designed for typically-developing 10-12 year old kids or those who have had 5-7 years of reading English
  • Grammar Express:  Prepositions Lite by Eknath Kadam (FREE) with 68 pages of grammar rules and 265+ examples
  • Sentence Builder by Mobile Education Tools ($5.99) contains over 100 pictures for kids to build sentences around with optional correct sentence audio reinforcement
  • Sentence Maker by Grasshopper Apps ($0.99) a highly customizable app that enables the user to create and complete their own sentences
  • Comparative Adjectives by Grasshopper Apps (FREE for a limited time only) allows a young kid client tap on the picture that matches a voiced-in description
There are so many more syntax apps in the App Store, both paid and free, that we’d love to include in this list… but we need your help!  Leave a comment below and let us know what syntax apps you have on your iOS device, and which ones do you find most useful and why.

Inside, closest to, and on top of Preposition Remix

Smarty Ears is one of the SLP-centric app companies out there.  Founded by Barbara Fernandes a.k.a. GeekSLP (whom we’ve met in ASHA 2011), Smarty Ears has to date almost 30 apps available in the App Store, apps that may be used for individuals with autism, stuttering, dysphagia, and apps for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) as well as for caseload management.  One of their very useful apps is Preposition Remix, and at this point we would like to challenge you to try and search the App Store for apps that concentrate on teaching prepositions.  We did, and we found that there were only a few handful that do.

Preposition Remix includes 20 of the most commonly used English prepositions such as:

  • above, behind, below, beside, between
  • closest to, furthest, in, in front of, in the middle
  • inside, near, next to, on, on top of
  • out, outside, to the left, to the right, under

The app comes with a Settings page where you can customize your lesson according to the needs of your client who is about to have a bit of fun:

  • toggle on/off the prepositions you’d want to appear
  • if you want written cues to appear below the pictures or not
  • if you want the prepositions to appear randomly or not
  • if you want the app to repeat the question or not
  • and how do you want the app to react if an error is made:
    • keep going:  have it continue to the next preposition
    • no response:  it won’t buzz nor continue on to the next preposition until a correct answer has been made
    • buzz:  if an error is made, and will keep doing so until a correct answer has been made

Press the Play button and the lesson starts.  The beauty of this app is that

  • one has to follow the instructions exactly:  if the app said “Touch the hat behind the horse,” one must touch the hat and not the horse, not above the hat, not beside the horse, but the hat itself.
  • the voice cue is clear and loud enough to be understood
  • no exaggerated stars, clapping sounds or cheers that could restrict the app to younger clients:  in other words, the app can be used with older clients, especially adults
  • voice response describes and expands the answer made:  this indicates that your client made a correct answer and even describes that answer in a longer sentence (“Yes, that brown dog is in the middle.”).
  • summary report is presented at the end of the activity:  this includes the date of practice, the prepositions the client worked on, and overall accuracy in percent.  Scores are presented by preposition, and the report also indicates if written cues and question repetitions were turned off or on.
  • optional “therapist upgrade” is available for download:  the upgrade allows the therapist to track a client’s progress over time.  This upgrade is available for $5.99.

Among the things we noticed as well were:

  • data-heavy:  87.1 mb makes for a very hefty app, but one could hardly fault the developers on this:  different voice cues and responses account for a lot of megabytes.
  • some lag-time after the Play button is tapped until the activity starts:  this is only by a couple of seconds or so.  It is  a hefty app, after all.
  • no option to turn off the voiced description at the end of each question:  while the description is useful, it does slow the activity at times, especially when the therapist prefers to do the describing him/herself.  One obvious way to skip this is to turn the volume down, but nonetheless, the app won’t move to the next item until the voiced description is finished.
  • no tweaks for users who do not use English:  again, we made good use of the app by toggling the volume to Silent and gave our own instructions to our clients.  But since we couldn’t hear the app’s instructions (unless we wore an earphone on one ear) nor could we forward to the next item, we tapped on the pictures for the sake of finishing the item.
  • no Next Item button

Preposition Remix remains an indispensable tool in clinical and school settings.  We definitely recommend this app as a must-have for your iOS device.  We say the same thing to our co-therapists at the center too, since they’ve been borrowing our iPad just to use with their kids.

Price:  $ 9.99 
Weight87.1 MB
Updated: 8 November 2011
Version: 1.2
Compatible with: universal app-the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and iPad
Seller:  Smarty Ears, LLC, 2011
Target Populationadults and children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • prepositions
  • following instructions
  • auditory memory and processing
  • descriptions
  • comparing and contrasting
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 smileys
iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys