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Word Wizard by L’Escapadou – Review

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Word Wizard is a universal app by French developer L’Escapadou. It is a winner of a 2011 Editors choice award from the Children’s Technology Review for Excellence in Design. This app is available in French and English versions. This review is of the English version.

The app consists of two main sections – the moveable alphabet and spelling quizzes. In the moveable alphabet you can create words and hear them spoken. If the word is not recognized (or is spelled incorrectly) it will have a red border – this changes to white when a recognized word is created. There are many settings options. You can have the letter sounds spoken when the letter is touched or hear the phonics instead. You can hear the partially completed word or only have it spoken once it is completed. You can chose to click and drag the letters or use it like a keyboard, and the letters can be laid out in ABC order or QWERTY.

The app uses the Montessori system of having vowels in red (a, e, i, o, u and y), and consonants in blue. You can chose from a British voice or two different American ones. The spelling quizzes section has a huge number of built in spelling quizzes from very simple CVC words e.g. cat or bag, through Dolch word lists and 1,000 most frequently used words. You can also easily create your own spelling lists.

This is a really great tool for learning to spell and is flexible enough to be used for a large range of ages – from children just learning to write up to high school students. I really liked the flexibility of the app and appreciate the huge number of built-in spelling lists plus the ability to create my own. Very helpful for practicing my son’s weekly spelling lists.

The app does have a few minor flaws. The US voice Heather pronounces some words strangely e.g. urban sounds like urbum and suburban sounds like suburbal, but the US voice Tracey pronounces these same words fine. Two of my children’s names were also incorrectly pronounced by the app (as they are by every text to speech app I have found), but the developer is very responsive and quickly produced a file to correct them. In the information section of the app the developer gives his email address and offers to do this for anyone who needs it.

I would highly recommended this app. I think it is the most comprehensive spelling app on the market and well worth downloading. The developer is also very responsive and does update the app in response to feedback, which is another great feature.

Category: Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Cost: AU$4.49 Word Wizard – Talking Movable Alphabet with Spell Check + Fun Spelling Tests that Use Over 1400 Words for Kids – L’Escapadou (221MB)

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