Phonics in Your Pocket

Previously I wrote about using free online resources on the P.C to practice reading skills. For those using ‘smart phones’, there is also the option (though not always free) of exposing your child to a whole world of language experience on the go. Today I downloaded a new application that is still in the testing stages, but whose simplicity and relevance to all I have written about so far in relation to my daughter prompted me to add yet more coin to Apple’s coffers.

Type ABC into the search field for the Apple app store and be boggled by the volume of results. I searched for a different app that I downloaded a year ago and really enjoyed using with my daughter, but it has been lost in the deluge of new releases.

What I did find was a free version of an app called ‘Pocket Phonics’. Follow the link here for a video tutorial of a slightly older looking version. Click here to go to the maker’s home page. After trying the free version myself, I let the sprog at it after dinner. Her reaction prompted me to spend the 250 yen for the full version (more expensive than the American or British versions, but finally worth it I think).

The app begins with two letter words, but quickly develops into four letter words using a mixture of consonants, vowels and consonant blends. I would only use this app if your sprog is already familiar with the phonic alphabet. Don’t use it to teach the phonic alphabet, only to practice it.

‘Play’ is divided into three sections: say it, write it & read it. The voiceover is a fairly neutral accent that doesn’t lean too far in either the British or American direction. The phonic value of ‘r’ does sound a little strained though. The writing section is quite simply beautifully made. It demonstrates stroke order, then a red arrow leads the way as the user follows whilst keeping time with the progress of the user’s finger. Fantastic! Finally the reading section is clear and simple. At the beginning stages it is almost painfully slow for a child already familiar with sounding out words, but as play progresses the value of this chosen speed is borne out as words become quickly more complicated.

I will be keeping this application for queues and dentists waiting rooms rather than for everyday use. If over used I think the novelty might wear off, and so will the value of this application. Keep it challenging, but make it accessible. Keep it in your pocket until you need it.

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