The Noyo Spanish Vocab app for iPad is a supplemental vocabulary builder for beginning Spanish learners. It is available from iTunes and you can read more about the application on the Noyo website. There is also a version with no English text for children in immersion programs.
Noyo Spanish Vocab consists of detailed scenes grouped by themes: los viajes, la comida, los deportes, la ciudad, la casa, los animales, las estaciones, la escuela. In the scenes, children are introduced to more than 1800 words. When children select Learn, they touch different objects in the picture to hear the Spanish word and see a pop-up of the Spanish and English text. When they select Assess, there are multiple choice questions based a picture.
There is no doubt that kids will have fun exploring these scenes and they will hear a lot of Spanish words as they do. These are a few of the strengths of this Spanish app from my point of view:
The colorful graphics. The scenes are designed with lots of detail, but with clearly isolated objects to tap on. Most of the time, when you tap on the picture you hear the Spanish word for exactly what you expect. Also, the pictures are bright, varied and will hold a child’s attention.
The audio. The sound on this app is excellent. The pronunciation is clear, standard Spanish and the words are pronounced with natural expression and at a natural pace. Also, the woman who did the audio has a very pleasant voice. That may seem like a detail, but when your kids have been playing with this app for an hour or so, you will be grateful for a voice that does not drive you crazy.
The vocabulary. There is huge variation in vocabulary in the Spanish-speaking world, so teachers and authors have to make choices about what words to teach. The choices in this app are very reasonable. Not every word will be recognized everywhere, but 95% of them will, and that is a lot of words.
Repetition and randomness. The vocabulary in each slide is only loosely tied to the theme, and I consider that a positive feature. In life, the same words are used in all kinds of situations, so in the Noyo Spanish iPad app the vocabulary repeats within each theme and across themes. For example, children hear the words for the animals on a golf course in Los deportes (Sports) and words for fruit in a street scene in Los viajes (Trips).
The variety of vocabulary included on each slide gives Noyo a very fun randomness. Kids stay engaged as they tap the screen trying to find words that are pronounced. Because they are actively choosing the picture they tap, they have the image and the concept in mind. They also have a degree of control over what they are learning. Words repeat, and as children hear a word several times they remember it and begin to predict what they will hear.
Making the most of the Noyo Spanish iPad App
This application is a vocabulary builder and never aimed to be or claimed to be a whole language experience. Parents should be aware that although the scenes create a context for the images, the words are isolated. They are not used in sentences (with the exception of the slides teaching quiero, voy a, tengo que and me encanta). Teachers and parents who speak Spanish can make the most of this application by talking about the scenes with their kids and using the words in complete sentences.
Most of the content in this Spanish iPad app works as well with children who do not read as it does with children who can read. Children who do not read will hear and repeat the vocabulary and associate it with the pictures. The assessment sections however are based on reading in English and being able to read at a basic level in Spanish. The questions are in English and the children look at a picture and choose answers in Spanish.
If your child does not read yet, and you speak Spanish, you can do the assessment sections together. Of course you will have to be able to say the Spanish answers correctly. Your child hears perfect pronunciation with Noyo and will not necessarily be able to understand you if your pronunciation is very different.
An update of this Noyo app is coming soon and it will add the ability to keep track of your assessment, how long you have used the app and the ability to email your teacher the results. The app is also going to be available in several languages.
The Noyo Spanish iPad app does exactly what it was designed to do. It exposes children to lots of Spanish vocabulary with native-speaker pronunciation. The graphics are bright and fun, and kids will be engaged as they explore these scenes and choose what they want to hear and learn in Spanish.
Disclosure: The company sent me a copy of this product to be able to write the article. All of the ideas and opinions are my own.