Apps and speech therapy: moving with the times (how children can learn new vocabulary from apps) - a guest blog speech and language therapist, Priya Desai - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Kate, April 28, 2012

Apps and speech therapy: moving with the times (how children can learn new vocabulary from apps) – a guest blog speech and language therapist, Priya Desai

I have to admit that e-books, digital books, story apps, whatever you want to call non-paper books had never appealed to me until recently. Having self-published two books myself; I was adamant that I was all about paper books… from recycled sources, of course!

However, I also believe in changing with the times and moving forward.

Fortunately, I came across Nosy Crow on Twitter and saw that they had won awards for their work; their reviews were good, so I thought it was about time I bought my first non-paper story, and I’m glad to say that I was impressed… very impressed!

My first purchase was Nosy Crow’s Cinderella Story app. I was immediately struck by all the different options: 1. Read and Play, 2. Read to me, 3. Read by myself… and the music was excellent too!

I don’t have children but I work with children as a speech and language therapist. I was keen to somehow incorporate this app in to some of my sessions, as a sort of treat. As it was a treat, I decided to use the Read and Play option. The voice telling the story is perfect; it really suits the fresh and fun, simple, yet detailed representation of Cinderella. As the story started, and inspired by the excellent illustrations in each well-presented scene, I suddenly thought, “Hang on, we can work on some good synonyms here!”.

Talking with my student (I work on a one-to-one basis) about the various characters, I was able to teach synonyms. Here are some examples:

– Cinderella’s clothing: shabby/grubby – Stepsister 1: slender/thin – Stepsister 2: plump/chubby – Prince: handsome/smart – Godmother: kind/considerate/nice

There was also opportunity to consider synonyms for verbs e.g. – Cinderella “cried/wept” when she could not go to the ball. – The chubby stepsister asked Cinderella to”fetch/get” her clothes/accessories for the ball. – Cinderella had to “rush/hurry” home to get back before midnight.

You may be thinking that it is possible and effective to teach new words through everyday conversation, and yes of course it is and can be, for most children. But the beauty of using this app and any other colourful medium is that children benefit from seeing words come to life, through colour, actions and detail. Strong visual representations of any word particularly if they are in the context of a meaningful, eventful story, will assist children in later recalling new words that have been introduced to them. And, most importantly, using a colourful teaching aid will engage them. When children are learning and absorbing information, it has to be fun! Naturally, if something is fun, it is more interesting and hence easier to recall.

Education aside, you too can use this app at home to enhance your child’s vocabulary. For example, if your child is beginning to write stories, this is a great, subtle way to introduce your child to more descriptive words, and the bonus is that you have a great story to refer to for reference – “Remember the Cinderella story? Do you think your character is mean like Cinderella’s stepsisters or kind like the fairy godmother?”

In moving with forward with current trends, it is all about finding a balance of using traditional methods with newer ways of learning. So next time you read a story, whether it’s a regular book or story app, make the most of it: just think of all the different things you can teach and show your child, and expand on their ever-increasing knowledge.

Written by Priya Desai

Speech and Language Therapist/Children’s Author/Independent Publisher

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