There are three menus in which the user should view prior to using the application for the first time. These can be accessed by pressing the "Menu" button (three vertical dots in the lower left hand corner of the screen) and they include: Settings, About, and Instructions.
The first screen that appears is a "How to Play" screen. This informs the user of what he or she needs to know prior to application use. You can access this menu at any time by pressing the "Menu" button in the lower left hand corner of the application. This discusses how to use the application and its settings. You can also view a tutorial video on YouTube or below:
Access the "Settings" menu by pressing the "Menu" button in the lower left hand corner of the application. There are eight different settings on this menu including:
- Level - Pressing the "Level" button will allow the user to choose the level for the client to play. There are seven different levels on the application. These will be discussed later in the post.
- Auto Record Latest Response - Press the check box if you would like the application to have the user automatically record his or her response. When it is time for the user to respond, all he or she has to do is speak and the internal microphone will pick it up and show a circle in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Uncheck it if you would like the user to manually determine whether or not he or she would like to record a response by pressing the "REC" button followed by any other button to end the recording. This recording will occur following a question and the user can compare it to the given response.
- Show the Word - Press the check box to allow the user to have the written word displayed. If you do not wish for the text of the word to show, uncheck the box.
- Move to the Next Image After Correct/Incorrect - If you would like the application to automatically move to the next image after a response, check the box next to this option. If you would like to manually move between images, then uncheck this box.
- Reinforcement Effects - Press the "Reinforcement Effects" text to determine whether you would like full, moderate, or no reinforcement effects by pressing the button next to your choice.
- E-Mail - Press the "E-Mail" text to enter an e-mail in which you would like client progress reports on the application sent to.
- Game Reward - Choose on the sliding bar how many answers you would like the user to complete before he or she can achieve a game reward between 0 (no game) and 20 answers. The reward games include "Squash the Spider", where the student must try and squash a spider five times in the shortest time, and "Pop the Balloon", in which the student must pop as many balloons out of 50 as he or she can.
- Reset Progress Report - Pressing the "Reset Progress Report" text will erase a students' history.
Pressing this button provides the user with information about what the application targets, the different levels of the application, the different games, and provides the website of the developer, Talking Talk. There are 325 practice words within the seven levels of the Auditory Analysis application which works on associating graphemes (letters) with speech sounds.
To begin application play, press the "Play Now" button. Make sure that you have determined the settings appropriate for the user on the "Settings" menu. The most important setting is which level you would like the user to begin at. Descriptions of each level are below:
- Level 1: Compound Words - The student has to omit one part of the compound word.
- Level 2: Two Syllable Words - The student must omit one syllable of the two syllable word.
- Level 3: The student must omit the initial phoneme of a given word.
- Level 4: The student is to omit the final phoneme of a given word.
- Level 5: The student should substitute either the initial or final phoneme of the given word with a different phoneme presented.
- Level 6: Words Containing Consonant Blends - The student must omit one sound from the word's blend.
- Level 7: Words Containing Consonant Blends - The student is required to substitute one of the sounds for a given sound in a given word's blend.
Once you have chosen the level at which you would like the user to practice in the "Settings" menu, press the "Play Now" button. An image will appear in the center of the screen. Tap the image for the auditory instructions. If you have the "Show the Word" setting on, the text of the word presented will appear in the top left hand corner of the screen. After the narrator presents auditory instructions, the user must state the answer aloud. If the application is set to "Auto-Record", all the user has to do is state their response aloud and a ring of circles will appear in the lower left hand corner to show that the application is recording the response. Otherwise, you must manually press the "Record" button to record a response.
Next, press the green arrow button in the upper right hand corner of the screen to hear the narrator ask if the user stated the correct answer followed by the correct answer stated by the narrator as well. The user can then compare his or her response to the correct response by pressing the green button with a speaker on it. If the response was stated correctly, press the smiley face with a thumbs up button, but if incorrect, press the sad face with a thumbs down button. When the smiley face is pressed, the user will earn a star. If the sad face is pressed, no star will be received. Once five stars have been earned, a star with the number 5 in the middle will appear in their place. The application will then auto-advance to the next image/instructions if that setting is on, otherwise, you must push the yellow "Next Image" button to move on to the next image/set of instructions.
At any time during application play, the user can press the blue "Results" button on the right hand side of the application. This will show the users' progress on the given level as both a percentage and a number out of the total amount of words practiced. If the reward games have been allowed, the user will see play buttons above a spider button and a balloon button for the corresponding reward games. Each play button is earned by the number of stars chosen on the "Settings" menu that the user must earn to get the game from 0 (no game) - 20 correct trials. Only up to six play buttons will appear, so if the user has earned more than six reward games, a small number will show how many additional games he or she has. The user can press choose to play the "Squash the Spider" or "Balloon Pop" game and after the game is complete, it will deduct a play button or number from the total number of games he or she has earned. Press the yellow arrow key to return to application play.
What I Like About This Application:
- I love how there are many different settings to choose from to adjust the students' level, response, give cues, etc.
- Being able to record within the application is very easy to do. It is also great for the user to self-assess his or her productions.
- The reward games were entertaining and fun, even for myself! I found myself wanting to just play the reward games over and over to beat my scores!
- The application works on phonological awareness skills in so many different ways. This is great not only for speech-language therapy but RtI sessions!
- The images and audio were clear which made the application easier to use.
(I am not sure of all of the Android's capabilities, but there is an iOS version of this app in the works, so it helps to mention these points)
- There were a few errors that I noticed while playing the application. The errors I noticed were in Level 7 where instead of substituting a word in a blend, the user was asked to substitute vowels or consonants not in the blend of the word. Either the description of the level should be changed or these words need to be re-recorded.
- Each time I accessed the "Results" menu, return to application play, and then return back to check the "Results" menu, the previous data would disappear. This was very frustrating.
- I would love to see a students' progress over time and be able to save it long-term.
- The stars sometimes got in the way of the images (for example a picture of a map or anatomy of the ear). It would be great if these could be shown off of the picture.
- Having to access the games within the "Results" menu was confusing at first and frustrating once my data kept deleting, but it would be great if after the number of targets had been reached, the application would automatically ask if the user wanted to play the game or not and immediately transition into it if yes, then return to regular application play. In addition, the fact that only 6 play buttons appear with the remainder being difficult to read was a bit ridiculous as I earned 6 play buttons with an addition of twenty (I had the rewards set to accumulate after two correct responses). This allowed me to keep playing the reward games over and over. If the reward game is to be accessed within the "Results" menu whenever the student wants, there should definitely be a cap on the amount of rewards or maybe the choice between 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 stars to get a reward instead of 0-20.
- It would be great to be able to have multiple users play the application at once and be able to save multiple user profiles.
- Since this is an auditory-based application, it would be great to have the ability to re-play the instructions in case a user didn't hear the directions the first time.
- Sometimes when the audio was auto-recording, it would catch the background noise or cut off the first portion of my words. Then, the application would not let me re-record my response. Even though auto-recording makes things easier, it might be better to allow the user to record and re-record if he or she messed up manually.
- It might be neat to be able to see a word list or add your own words/audio to the application.
- In the future, if possible, it would be great to also have the option to show/hide visual cues.
- Phonological Awareness: This application focuses on initial and final sound identification, substitution, and omission as well as initial and final blend identification, reduction, and sound substitution within words. It also focuses on syllable awareness and omission within words. This is all done auditorily, but can also be focused on in reading and writing with adaptations and cues. For example, you can have the text of a given word appear on screen or write the word on paper/a whiteboard to cover up or change portions of the word.
- Expressive Language: Have the child state or write a sentence using the original word and the new word.
- Receptive Language: Talk about the difference in definition or description between the original word and the new word.
- Following Directions: The user of the application is asked to follow an auditory direction presented by the narrator.
- Articulation: Choose words that include the students' speech sound for him or her to record/practice. Have the user state the word in a sentence.
- Phonological Processes: Some of the words offer substitutions or reduced clusters/syllables that the user can practice minimal pairs-wise to make the words sound different. Then, the user can listen back to his or her recording to determine if his or her words were produced the same or different.
Auditory Analysis (USA) is available for Android devices on Google Play and Amazon for $4.99.
The author of Consonantly Speaking was given an application file for this review. No other form of compensation was received.