Oh! The thematic units, don’t we all love them? Theme based intervention is a common practice during speech and language sessions. Generally speaking, using themes is something that we think about more for language based interventions than speech and articulation interventions. Many school-based clinicians use themes in their sessions; especially the themes that fall along with the themes being used in the classroom. When a clinician makes the decision to incorporate themes into a session many times they have to create custom materials to fit the classroom theme, especially if we are talking about articulation materials.
Some clinicians have go-to materials for each theme, which makes our lives so much easier. While it is possible and somewhat easy to adapt any articulation material for articulation, it is even better when the articulation material not only integrates the theme, but adds to the beauty of using a theme during a session. Many SLPs now use iPad apps as the go-to for articulation therapy, however not only we get tired of using the same app over and over again, but we all know the children also do. Articulate it is the one and only app that allows users to switch themes on its activities.
Articulate it includes 18 themes that allows clinicians to finally offer children a fresh look into each articulation and phonology session.
Clinicians can tap on the menu and select from the following themes:
4th of July
St. Patricks’ Day
The themes change the skin within the screen on the matching activity, the flashcard activity and the guess what activity. Let me show you guys what some of the themes look like on all three activities:
Besides changing the skin, children can experience a few other changes such as the audio feedback for each activity. The fall theme for example has a gobble gobble audio feedback when switching from one target word to another.
Since Articulate it also offers an activity called ” Guess What?” which used questions to elicit the target word, the app is often used by clinicians with mixed groups of articulation and language students. Therefore, having the theme built-in the app can also make the app a tool for kids working on specific language skills when a thematic unit is in place.
Some themes within Articulate it can actually be a part of several other themes. Clinicians often used the ocean theme on ” Talk like a Pirate” week. However, the now have a dedicated pirate theme.
If students are older or have moved from word to more complex levels of practice, many of the ideas used for language-based therapy such as reading a thematic book or having a discussion using target words are also excellent ways to integrate themes into articulation therapy.
We have been making apps since 2009 and throughout the years we have made hundreds of updates throughout our apps. Creating educational apps requires a great deal of upkeep. We always want to make sure our apps don’t get left behind. When we started creating apps in 2009, the iPad was not even out yet. While it does seem like another lifetime, it was just the other day. Our apps back then were the most advanced apps at the time they were created, however if you were to play with some of those original versions today you would certainly be disappointed in Smarty Ears.
As Apple makes each device more advanced, we also strive to make sure all our apps are also as wonderful as each new device. Updating over fifty apps take a significant amount of time and effort on our part and we absolutely love looking at our apps with critical eyes and ask ourselves ” how can I make this app better?”. Each year, we probably release updates to each app, as Apple updates their iOS systems.
Updating apps is a must at times, when Apple’s operating system goes through major changes and makes apps simply stop working or causing strange behaviors.
Customer feedback is also something we always take note when updating our apps. We love receiving suggestions from our customers and we try very hard to look at every suggestion and criticism as an opportunity to make our app better. While our apps go through in-house testing, clinicians and parents out there can have major insights as to how certain features would be helpful to specific children and adults we aim to help though out apps.
Many times, when we create a new app we realize we should have used that new feature on all previous apps and that’s how we go back and start implementing that new feature on all our apps, such as the compatibility with the Therapy Report Center app.
Some other source of insight of our updates comes from chatting with users at conventions. As we have just returned from the 2016 Asha Convention in Philadelphia, we are pumped with ideas of new features for some of our most loved apps. If you have a suggestion, write to us, we would love to hear from you.
Ultimately, we strive often to make sure anyone who opens and buys Smarty Ears apps feel like they have just unlocked the best of what is out there, regardless if that app is a brand new release or an app that was created in 2009.
The iPad has allowed publishers to expand their reach across borders. As apps are created and published on the app store, the developer has the choice to make them available around the world. Developers can specifically select in which countries they want their app to appear.
When it comes to speech and language apps things get very complicated. While most of these apps are available world wide, only a portion of the world speaks English, and therefore despite the availability, only a handful of apps really have an international appeal when it comes to apps targeting speech, language or communication skills.
Having learned two languages, English and Spanish, as an adult and being from Brazil has led me to have an added interest to making sure the apps I create were available in as many language as possible.
Despite of what many of my non-SLP friends think, being an SLP and being a language expert, does not mean that all SLPs are experts in all languages. (We could only wish).
While translating some non-language based to other languages may in of itself be a challenge and require the skills of a trained translator, translating speech and language apps pose yet another set of difficulties that require not only a translator but most likely the supervision of a speech pathologist with proficiency in both languages.
I am fortunate enough to be trilingual, and have some basic proficiency in a couple other languages. However even being a native speaker of Portuguese has led me to make some mistakes when creating speech therapy apps in Portuguese, despite having some of my training done in brazil. One quick example was when creating an articulation and phonology assessment in Portuguese. The way the position of each sound within the word are accounted for and classified are completely different than the way we do in English, for example in the word sapato / sapatu/ (shoe) – the phoneme /t/ is considered a sound in the final position of the word for being in the final syllable. So when we created the app we had to make sure syllables and sounds are appropriately classified according to the Brazilian standards, not the American. This is something I had to discuss with a local speech-pathologist and it was a big “aha” moment for me when we tried to match our classifications when selecting the words. The app, Avaliação de Fonologia e Articulação do Português has been now available since 2012 and is widely used by speech pathologist in Brazil. It is the only iPad based assessment app available to SLPs in Brazil.
Today, I am proud that Smarty Ears has made significant progress in making our apps multilingual. All of our apps were adapted to other languages with the help of other speech-language-pathologists from around the world.
The importance of bilingual apps in service delivery of bilingual children
The fact is that most of the population in the world speaks more than one language. Even in the United States alone the number of bilingual homes is enormous. “The 2007 American Community Survey found that a bit more than 55 million inhabitants spoke a language other than English at home.” Grosjean, 2010.
Unfortunately, as a bilingual clinician in the United States, I know firsthand that there is still a significant scarcity of materials that are made in languages other than English .
The need to assess and treat speech and language in both languages makes it all more fundamental that we make language options within the app available. This is a step we have worked hard to make a reality over the years.
It would be instrumental for a bilingual SLP to have an app that can easily switch languages within the task to offer the child exposure to practicing that skill on both languages.
Language specific apps
Whenever possible we try to add the language as an option within the app, however this not always works as the differences between the structure of the languages can be significant as to require that we release a completely different app on that language. A few examples of this are our articulation and phonology apps for both assessment and treatment. We have released articulation assessment apps in both Portuguese and Spanish.
As far as articulation therapy apps we have Spanish Artik and Academia da Articulation in Spanish and Portuguese. Neither one of these apps would have worked as a language option within our existing English articulation therapy app Articulate it.
One other example of apps that might require separate apps for each language are syntax and grammar apps. A while back we attempted to make our app Preposition Remix available with a language option in Portuguese, only to find myself stuck with the fact that some prepositions in English are represented by the same preposition in Portuguese. We have yet to make a Prepositions app in other languages, but we will get there.
Changing or adapting cultural items
Another consideration we must have when adding a language within the app is making sure we consider cultural differences, not only across the various languages and specific tasks but also across countries.
While we try at times to incorporate American culture into our apps, we have attempted to make our apps as international as possible. This has been instrumental in making sure that our apps remain appropriate for users in other English speaking countries such as Canada, Australian or England.
We receive compliments often from our users in Australia about how some of our apps such as Reading Comprehension Camp has stories that are very friendly to children no mater their background.
At times, we know that when we offer the change of language within the app we must make sure all items are still appropriate for children of other backgrounds. One recent challenge we had was on the latest addition of Spanish as a language option to Describe it to me. A few of the items made references
The dialects of the languages
We all know that not all speakers of English sound the same. If you consider just English for example, we have regional dialects within America (e.g. east coast or southern) as well as more distinct dialects of Britain or Australian English. We have yet to make any adaptations to the different dialects of any language. This can pose a challenge mostly for articulation and phonology apps where some words can be grouped completely different based on the dialect.
The same difficulty is true for all other languages. Spanish is spoken with a different dialect everywhere in the world. Since most, if not all, of our apps include some sort of an audio component deciding which dialect to use can be a topic of consideration.
We recently had a user of our recently translated app Language Trainer from the Netherlands complain how the dialect used in the app was from Belgium. We just had to remind her that no dialect is better than another and the SLP in Belgium had provided an appropriate translation for Dutch speakers, and despite the slight variation the app was now available in Dutch and we should all celebrate it.
Creating and adapting apps into other languages is one of the goals of Smarty Ears and we hope to continue to lead in this area. If you are looking for apps in languages other than English see a list of our apps below currently available in various languages.
Available Smarty Ears apps in languages other than English
Describe it to me
Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Assessment
Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Auditory Memory Club
Fun & Functional
Auditory Memory Club
Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Academia da Articulation
Basic Concepts Skills Screener
Fun & Functional
Avaliacao de Fonologia e Articulacao do Portugues
1. Language Trainer
2. Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Grosjean, Francois. The extent of bilingualism. In Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and Reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
ASHA. (2013). Bilingual Service Delivery. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589935225§ion=Key_Issues
About: The Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Assessment (BAPA) was developed for the purpose of assessing the articulatory and phonological abilities of monolingual and bilingual speakers of English and Spanish. BAPA can also be used to assess articulation and phonology skills of either monolingual English speaker or monolingual Spanish spakers.
About: The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit is a qualitative screening and assessment tool that can be can be used to identify articulation errors and phonological difficulties. Sunny can be used as a stand alone tool or in combination with other paper based testing materials. The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit (SAPT-K) is an individually administered clinical tool for screening, identification, diagnosis and follow-up evaluation of articulation skills in English speaking individuals. Sunny is the application that will save you not just minutes, but hours on assessment procedures, error identification, caseload management and report writing. Test administration is not only more efficient but also more engaging for students. The results provide a complete written report and a comprehensive overview of the articulation and phonology inventory of the student tested.
3. Common Core Early Language Screener: ($24.99 – Now: $19.99)
About: The common core standards are expectations set out by the states regarding what students are expected to learn from kindergarden through 12th grade in order to be prepared for postsecondary education (www.corestandards.org). The Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS) is a screening tool used to identify weaknesses in early language skills. The CCELS was designed to be used with Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and first grade aged children; however, the screener can be used for other groups if needed.
4. Basic Concept Skills Screener: ($24.99 – Now $14.99)
About: Basic Concepts Skill Screener (BCSS) is a quick, motivational screening tool created to help assess the basic concept skills in children. Designed by certified speech-language pathologists, BCSS uses technology to engage clients while assessing their school readiness skills. Perfect for all levels from preschool to early elementary, BCSS assesses the concept skills needed for pre-reading and math skills. The Basic Concepts Skills Screener is sure to be a great app for the busy speech-language pathologist, teacher, parent, or caregiver.
5. Profile of Phonological Awareness: (Full:$29.99 – Now: $9.99)
About: The Profile of Phonological Awareness (Pro-PA) was developed for the purpose of evaluating and describing the phonological awareness skills of children. Phonological awareness skills are related to speech sound and literacy development and should be assessed in children with difficulties in speech, language and/or reading (Catts, 1993; Gillon, 2002, 2005).
About: ATEval2Go provides a guide through the evaluation process and a thorough template for technology consideration including the ability to enter text, pictures, and audio about background information, environmental observations, tools already within the environment, student abilities based on targeted goals, and potential recommendations. Using the iPad’s multi-function capabilities, professionals can take pictures, record audio, and input text directly in the app generating rich, multimedia artifacts necessary for the purposes of documentation, analysis, and contemporary report creation.
Founded by a language and culture lover, Smarty Ears CEO, Barbara Fernandes is vested in providing quality apps that will help children not only in English but also in as many languages as possible. Smarty Ears has released a new version of two apps: WhQuestions & Fun & Functional that will help children with language difficulties reach their potential in their native languages. WhQuestion is now available in Spanish, Portuguese & French. While Fun & Functional is now also available in Spanish & Portuguese. All language are available inside the same app, users can switch language choices within the settings of each app.
“As a practicing speech-therapist, 95% of the children I saw were Spanish speakers; Spanish speaking clinicians end up pulling their hair out to come up with materials in languages other than English. I want to make sure other Spanish speaking therapists in the Unites States and around the world can have more tools to help children communicate.”
The latest version of WhQuestions includes a receptive and an expressive component to answering a variety of WhQuestions. WH Questions features over 400 opportunities to answer and ask real-world questions. With beautifully designed fun illustrations, and versatile yet real world questions, WH Questions is the “go-to” app for helping students attain proficiency at asking and answering basic questions. The app is available on the app store and compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Fun & Functional, authored by speech-language-pathologist Rosie Simms, was designed to help improve language comprehension and expression in individuals by enhancing the ability to identify and describe the function or use of real-world objects. Fun & Functional users can now easily switch language of choice of the app by accessing the settings function. Fun & Functional can be downloaded from the app store on the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fun-functional/id498640017?mt=8
Smarty Ears is already one of the leading providers of apps for speech therapy in Brazil with over 14 apps in Portuguese. Smarty Ears has a dedicated website for their Brazilian users on www.ipadfono.com. Smarty Ears has also started building their dedicated Spanish website which will be released in the last quarter of 2014.
The company has spent a large amount of effort in 2014 in translating their apps into other languages. Some of Smarty Ears apps are now available in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German & French. Smarty Ears plans to release two additional apps in Portuguese and Spanish before the end of 2014, and to start offering more apps in French in 2015.
It is official! Our very own Founder and CEO will be presenting ( once again) at the Asha convention. The 2014 convention of the American Speech-Language and Hearing association is set to take place in Orlando between November 20-22 of 2014. Barbara Fernandes has presented numerous times at the annual convention. This year she will be presenting on the topic area of Business & Management.
The session is set to take place on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM.
The session title is: Efficient Caseload management Across Apps.
Smarty Ears has not only been the leader in app development for speech, language and communication apps, but also has started to push the development of the first apps in languages other than English for promoting language and speech development. Smarty Ears is proud to announce the release of WhQuestions in three additional languages: French, Spanish & Portuguese.
WhQuestions was initially released in January of 2010, and it was one of the first speech therapy apps on the app store. Since its conception and initial release, WhQuestions has gone through many updates and improvements. Most of what users see today is a result of a lot of hard work from all of our team members. The current version of WhQuestions, version 3.6, contains both a receptive and an expressive task. The receptive task was also introduced on this latest version of the app.
Barbara Fernandes, Smarty Ears CEO, has always had a commitment for offering apps in as many languages as possible. Smarty Ears already offers over 10 apps in Portuguese ( www.sefono.com), several in Spanish ( www.espanol.smartyearsapps.com ) , two in French and one in German.
Over the last four years, Smarty Ears and Bilinguistics have been working on the first and only articulation app fully standardized on the iPad. The Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Assessment has been available on the app store since 2011 as a non-standardized qualitative assessment of Spanish only articulation and phonology skills. In 2012, BAPA was updated to include one of its kind feature on any bilingual assessment for articulation: the ability to evaluate both English and Spanish skills for each student. The application was also able to be used by English speaking speech-language-pathologists to assess English speaking students. BAPA quickly became one of the most versatile assessment options for evaluators, as it permitted the assessment of students regardless of their primary language.
In 2014, Smarty Ears updated BAPA to its version 2.0 to include standardization. This is a ground breaking advancement for speech pathologist who up until now had to rely only on bulky and outdated paper based evaluation tools, or on qualitative assessments of articulation and phonology on the iPad.
“We are very excited about the release of the version 2.0 of BAPA. As a speech-pathologist who did primarily evaluations with Spanish speaking students all over the Dallas area, having an iPad application that can automatically not only provide me with standard scores immediately after an evaluation but also an automated report, I can say this is one of the most exciting contributions I have made in my profession,” said Smarty Ears CEO Barbara Fernandes.
It is very important that English speaking speech-pathologist understand that the use of the term “Bilingual” on the name of the application, does not refer to the fact that the app was designed to be used only by bilingual SLPs, but to the fact that it can be used to assess two languages: English or Spanish or both.
Smarty Ears has been on the forefront as the only app developer to create iPad based assessments for speech pathologists. Smarty Ears has released evaluation tools for language, basic concept skills, phonological awareness skills and of course articulation.
How educational institutions can purchase Smarty Ears apps and get 50% off on all our apps.
Apple has implemented a program called “The Volume Purchase” program. This program allows approved educational institutions to receive 50% off when 20 or more copies of the same app are purchased for their staff members. It is important to note that the developers have the option to opt out of this discount; therefore, not every application will offer the discount even if you purchase 20 copies. All Smarty Ears apps have opt in (option) for the discount. This way, if an educational institution chooses to purchase 20 copies of any of the Smarty Ears apps, they will receive 50% off on the cost of the application. This is a significant saving for the educational institution.
Here is how the program works:
Someone from an educational program must enroll by becoming the program manager for your institution. The program manager will be in charge of making the purchases, and after the codes are downloaded this person is in charge of distributing codes that teachers, therapists and other staff members can use to download the application free of charge on their end.
The program manager can make payments using credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa), debit cards, cashier’s check, money orders, and even wire transfer. Financing is also available. For more information you can visit : http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/volume/us/terms.html
How do I get the app?
After the program manager purchases the copies of the application he will receive codes that can be distributed to the staff members or students. Each person receiving the code must login to their iTunes account and redeem the code. The redeem link is on the right side of the iTunes store (see image below).
Now just click on the link and redeem the app by entering the code given to you.