Dic-Dic is a picture dictionary to help children learn to read and spell three levels of words in each of five languages. For English-speaking students, it will help with early reading and phonics skills, then convert to a beginning experience in Spanish, French or Catalan (spoken in Andorra, as well as parts of Spain and France). The app also includes words in British English if desired.
Auditory and visual cuing
Album includes pictures of each word learned
Read by native speakers of each language
Adaptable for each player
Two levels of correction/cuing
Dic-Dic does a good job at what it sets out to do: introduce familiar words to children in several languages. The app is not too flashy, but has some very well-thought out features to reinforce learning. Because of the multiple languages and three levels of difficulty, it can grow with your child.
The app does default to the settings menu on the first use, which seems a bit strange to me. Subsequent sessions start with game play. It might be more conventional to add an opening screen that has options for playing right away at default settings, opening the options screen or going to a parents’ section.
Dic-Dic offers over 100 American English vocabulary words for students to explore, as well as numerous words in Spanish, French and Catalan. Pictures are presented and a native speaker voices the name of the noun. Students are expected to type the letters to spell the word, then the app will offer correction (if that option has been chosen). After correct spelling of five words, the app offers a bonus game, where numerous objects float around the screen and a verbal prompt lists the five words just finished. Users are supposed to find, track and touch the item that matches each of the five words in the previous lesson.
It is wonderful that the app offers many options for individualization. There are three levels of vocabulary offered in each language. Within each level, users can choose to turn clues and correction on or off. The clues put the correct letters to spell the word on the screen, then change their color as each is typed. A robot figure appears to correct or reinforce responses. If incorrect letters are entered, when the final word is spelled correctly, correct letters in a third color replace any incorrect entries.
Words from each lesson are added as stickers in an album for each level and language, which some children will enjoy collecting. Furthermore, the albums can be viewed as a record-keeping tool, helping teachers or parents to monitor student progress. Deleting an album will start that level over again.
My suggestion to the app developers would be to check the color combinations being used to highlight the letters as students are spelling and during the correction process. Some combinations are difficult to discriminate, such as the lighter blue to the darker one or the black to the dark green. It would be better to use a consistent color palette that has a lot of contrast between all three modes on all of the levels and languages. I was also somewhat surprised at the vocabulary chosen at each level. The app seems to be missing some very simple, common words that most language-learning systems consider to be very basic, such as “house” and “table” in favor of words like “sandal” and “tin,” for example. A list of included vocabulary would be a very nice addition for teachers and parents.
Dic-Dic is not a particularly exciting app to use, though it gets the job done. I have some concern that students/children, particularly older ones, may become bored with the game before they have used it enough to master the words it offers. The bonus game is fun, but would be quite difficult for any learner who has motor, coordination, memory or attention difficulties. It would be nice to see a few other bonus games added for variety’s sake.
Dic-Dic is an excellent value for students or children who are learning beginning reading/spelling/phonics skills and for students who would like a gentle, low-key introduction to Spanish or French. The app’s ability to grow with the user is a real plus.
Developers have done a great job with making this app child-friendly. There are no advertisements, social media links, connections to the internet or email forms. For the most part, the program is very intuitive and easy to use, except for starting it up the first time. Since it opens to the Options screen on the first use, young children or those with limited reading skills will need help to find the correct language, level and amount of correction. Once it’s set up, though, this will not be a problem.
Dic-Dic is a nice introduction to basic words in several languages. It will help students learn to spell and read over a hundred different words in their native language, then can introduce them to several other languages.