Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Idiom Stories - quizzes to learn idioms


Purpose of App: Introduce and quiz on common English idioms.

Strengths: Divided up into categories such as Feeling Better, Money, and Friendship.

Weaknesses: No narration. Table of contents lists quizzes are listed by number, have to click on it to see the category.

Suggested Audience: Children who are very literal or concrete thinkers

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal:   
Worth the Price:            
Ease of Use:                  
Educational Value:        
Level of Customization:

If you would like to download Idiom Stories ($0.99, iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:

**This app is currently available for FREE. Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. All apps that we post as free are verified to be free at the time of the post. We make no guarantees otherwise.**

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I never realized how complicated the English language is until I began to explain various parts to my children. I will not even start on spelling and the whole "i before e except..." business. The English language can be confusing; and since my son has Asperger's, he is very literal in his thinking and speech. Idioms can be very difficult for children on the Autism spectrum, as well as other children struggling with more abstract figures of speech.

Idioms are defined as an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words, but that has a separate meaning of its own. In more general terminology, it's a figure of speech that has evolved over time. While my daughter thinks, "it's raining cats and dogs" is funny and only mildly confusing, my son gets upset and says that it makes no sense.

The app Idiom Stories is great for introducing children to idioms in a fun way. Basically, it consists of six different sets of quizzes made up of 10 questions each. Each set of quizzes focuses on a general area such as Introducing Idioms, Friendship, or Emotions. The quizzes are listed by number only. It would be a little easier and faster to navigate if the quizzes were listed more like a table of contents listing the category title.

Clicking on the quiz number does list the category, a short description of what what quiz focuses on, the level of difficulty, and any achievements earned.  From there, the user can click on "Take the Quiz" to begin.

The quiz is comprised of ten sentences containing idioms. The idiom is displayed in quotation marks making it easily identifiable. The sentence ends asking for the meaning followed by three possible answers. A sample question is: One reason he is sad is because he has been "down on his luck" lately which means...
  • He is Angry at his friend Luck, for making him a zombie.
  • He has been unlucky.
  • He fell down and it hurt.
The user makes a selection and clicks "Next." If they chose the correct response, they earn a check mark and the score in the bottom right increases. If they get the answer incorrect, they get an X mark and a "What I did Wrong" screen is displayed explaining the meaning of the idiom. The user can then try to answer again. I appreciate that even if the user gets the answer right the second time, the score reflects the incorrect response. Kids can't just guess, get it wrong, and then try again to earn a perfect score.

Once a quiz is complete, the user will be awarded a star depending on their score. All correct responses earns a gold star. Users can also earn Silver and Bronze stars based on their score. The star is displayed over the quiz's category number on the main screen. There is no option for multiple users where it keeps track of different player's achievements. However, the achievement stars can be reset in the setting menu if a different user wants to play.

There is little customization available. If a child is having trouble with a certain grouping of idioms, like Money, they can focus on that area. However, if there are five or six idioms that particularly trip someone up spread through various categories, they are unable to create their own list to focus on trouble areas. It would be great if there was the availability to choose from all the available idioms and create a custom ten question quiz.

The educational value would rise to five stars from me if the app offered a place to study the different idioms before taking the quizzes. Possibly make all the sentences into a story and if a user taps on the idiom, a definition is displayed. This way they can study and practice without feeling penalized for not knowing yet.

For children unable to read, they will need someone to assist in reading the quiz aloud to them. There is no narration available. For the most part, a child reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level would be fine.

The layout itself is nice and simple in that it will not distract children who fight to focus. There are cute, small graphics added, but will not divert attention. There is music and sound effects which, though not intrusive, can be turned on and off in the settings.

Overall, this is a stand out app. Any child working on learning the English language and especially concrete thinkers struggling with understanding idioms can gain a lot from this app.  Whether paying the full price of $0.99 or if you are lucky enough to grab it while still free, this app is worth the download.

From iTunes:

Laugh out loud while you learn important and essential English Language idioms.

Created by teachers and tested by students, this app offers maximum fun with hilarious illustrations and lots of jokes!

Play this Idiom Stories game to quickly learn and enjoy knowing the most important English idioms for TOEFL, English Language proficiency tests such as Cambridge, CAEL, ELPT and IELPT.

Perfect English Language practice created specially for international students intending to study abroad.

Rachel H's son once panicked when a teacher said his head must be on fire from wearing a knit hat in the middle of summer. He didn't know she was saying he must be really hot.

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