Technology for ELL

Software Uses Interactive Graphics To Aid in Learning and Using Language

Tool Factory has introduced a new educational software application designed to help visual learners and English language learners (ELL) not only learn their words but understand their practical use and context. A Busy Day uses graphics and interactive scenes so that users can relate the words they say and read to objects, descriptions, and actions.

Authored by Rosemary Starrett, an Irish educator who works with students at various points on the autistic spectrum, A Busy Day's visual content is also designed to be used with such children, as well as those with Down's Syndrome and learning disabilities affecting word-concept relationships and those who are simply "visual" learners--children for whom conventional, text-intensive reading contains too many abstract ideas.

The scenarios offered by the software are meant to illustrate "a busy day" in the life of a young child. Users see a brother and sister each waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast together, walking to school with their father, and engaging in several other activities that most children will easily recognize. The software presents the scenes in colorful, fully illustrated on-screen windows featuring people, places, and objects children will relate with the activities being shown. "Waking up" includes a bed, pajamas, an alarm clock, and a bird perched on the windowsill. "Eating breakfast" displays a kitchen, food, silverware, and a table and chairs. Tied into the scenes are a variety of interactive exercises such as word matching, find the right word, and spot the differences, all designed to drive word recognition and association.

Additionally, A Busy Day offers three levels of word difficulty, three levels of activity challenge, a customizable word bank, and printable worksheets and certificates of achievement.

Available for Mac OS X and Windows platforms, the software can be purchased through the Tool Factory Web site for $69.95 for a single user or with substantial volume discounts for multiple users. A network site license is also available.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.