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For children who have difficulty saying specific sounds in the English Language, Articulation Station helps teach them to say the sounds through a series of activities. The activities involve practising the sound at increasingly difficult levels, in words, phrases, sentences, and stories.
Free and Pro versions both include the option to teach 22 sounds in the English language. The Pro version has all 22 sounds available and is typically purchased by professionals. The Free version only comes with a free p sound program with the option to make in-app purchases for additional sounds.
What we think
Articulation Station was created by a certified Speech Pathologist to address articulation disorders, when a child has an impaired ability to produce a specific sound(s) and always produces the same error sound in its place.
The app is based on the process of traditional articulation therapy, which focuses on giving the child specific motor instructions on how to make a target sound. The core of this process is to teach a child to produce a target sound through a sequence of activities, including listening to and identifying the difference between the target sound from the error sound, correcting the production of the target sound until it is produced correctly, and generalising the target sound. Generalisation usually involves the child working through a predictable set of steps, from smaller to larger language units (i.e. producing the target sound in isolation, syllables, words, sentences, stories, conversation), moving on to the next step when they reach a pre-determined level of success. At least 80% accuracy at each step is a common goal. Generalisation also involves the child producing the sound correctly in spontaneous conversation in settings other than practice sessions, and learning to self-monitor so they are less reliant on other people to remember to say the sound correctly. More information on how to teach a target sound is available via a free resource “The Process of Articulation Therapy” on the Little Bee Speech app website.
The therapy approach requires interaction between a child and a person teaching them. The teacher provides cues about how to produce the target sound and feedback. The feedback is focused on the sound they produced (what aspects were correct and constructive feedback about what was not), is generally verbal, specific, and provided straight away. Early on the feedback is often on what can be done to improve performance e.g. “remember to keep your tongue down”. Later it tends to be on whether or not they said the sound correctly, and then encouraging the child to self-monitor. Little Speech Bee therefore strongly encourage the use of the Articulation Station app with a teacher, therapist, or parent to get the most effective therapy outcomes.
Speech Pathologist Caroline Bowen lists some of the published evidence for the success of traditional therapy approach on her website, mainly including case illustrations and clinical descriptions: http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=11&Itemid=101&limitstart=56
A randomised control trial has also since been conducted by Broomfield and Dodd (2011), which concluded that articulation therapy was effective for articulation disorder.
Broomfield, J., & Dodd, B. (2011). Is speech and language therapy effective for children with primary speech and language impairment? Report of a randomized control trial. International journal of language & communication disorders, 46(6), 628-640.
The app is easy to use. The home screen allows access to: information (how to use the app, video tutorials on topics such as word lists, data collection, and data backup), data (profile for each child, saved scores, group sessions), multiple sounds (option to work on more than one sound at a time), and settings (turning on/off scoring features, recording features, audio, adding custom images).
The home screen also allows you to select the sound you want to work on. Once you select a sound, you can select a light bulb icon for “Quick tips on teaching” or an activity. For each activity, you have the option to select which word position(s) to practice the sound in (initial, medial, final). You can then press “Begin” or first modify the list of words to be included in the activity. If the scoring features are turned on, you can mark the correctness of your child’s performance during the activity and see a running total on the screen.
A child can work through the following articulation activities of increasing difficulty for each sound: words – flashcards and matching, phrases – rotating and unique, sentences – rotating and unique, stories – level 1 and level 2.
The user to create a profile for each child to track progress across different goals, including their name, age, date of session, sound/position, score, %, whether they passed the level, and notes.
The user can also facilitate a group session, by creating and selecting profiles for each child who will be participating.
In-built features may be sufficiently motivating for the child, including real photos, fun activities (e.g. matching games, word spinners), the option to record their own voice to listen back to, the option to press the scoring buttons after each attempt, and the final “You did it!” announcement at the end of each activity.
A child who has difficulty using their pointer finger to press and swipe may need someone to do this for them.
A child who has vision impairment or literacy difficulties may need someone to read aloud the label of a picture or the words written on the screen, for the child to copy.
Teenagers or adults could benefit from the content of this app, however the presentation style may be less motivating for them.
The app allows the user to personalise the app to the needs of the child e.g. through Data, Multiple Sounds, Settings, sound programs for 22 sounds in the English language, activities of increasing difficulty, which word position to practice the sound in, options to modify word lists, and options to add custom photos.
The app is a good resource for facilitating traditional articulation therapy, where the child only has difficulty saying the sound. If the child also has difficulty hearing the difference between the target sound and their error sound, other resources will be needed to target this (e.g. “Speech Sounds for Kids” app by Multimedia Speech Pathology).
The app itself does not include an articulation assessment to determine which sounds to work on, however the free resources “The Process of Articulation Therapy” and “Speech Sound Development Chart” on the Little Bee Speech app website provide some guidance on this. Little Bee Speech have also released an app “Articulation Test Centre”. As a child’s speech difficulties may involve more than an articulation disorder, you may need to arrange an appointment with a Speech Pathologist for a thorough assessment.
The speech recordings on the app are in an American Accent, which is generally not appropriate for speech intervention for children with an Australia accent. It is recommended that you turn the voice audio off in settings. If the target sound is ‘r’, do not practice the sound in word final position.
The words used in activities are American influenced e.g. “trash”. Simply swipe past it or modify the word list before you begin the activity.
The program for a sound does not include activities for practising the sound on its own or in a syllable. The “The Process of Articulation Therapy” free resources on the Little Bee Speech website provides some ideas for practice, however a family may benefit from advice on activity ideas from a Speech Pathologist.
The app does not include a specific activity to practice the target sound in conversation. The “The Process of Articulation Therapy” free resources on the Little Bee Speech website provides some ideas for practice. You could also consider another resource (e.g. Articulation Scene app by Smarty Ears Apps, which shows a scene containing pictures of words containing the target sound which can be used to stimulate a conversation).
Phrase and sentence level activities sometimes involve saying more than one word containing the target sound. If this is too challenging for your child, you can temporarily decrease the difficulty of the task by skipping to the next item or telling the child some words to leave out.
The Free version with in-app purchases is cost-effective for those who want the app for only one or two sounds.
The app provides information on when each sound should be developed and instructions on how to say the sound.
The program for a sound has ready-to-go activities, at the word, phrase, and sentence level.
The app enables easy scoring and data tracking.
The activities are short. This is good, because principals of learning motor tasks like speech suggest that many shorter sessions are more productive that fewer longer sessions.
The Little Speech Bee website provides helpful free resources to use alongside the app. See the website for other resources not mentioned in the above review.