Overview: All the World's Your Stage
Spanish Stagecraft applies a context-based learning approach to helping kids learn and practice Spanish. By dragging characters and objects onto a stage, kids create scenes that match the prompt sentences. Each scene is therefore a mini-puzzle with an element of play. With timed follow-up quizzes, Spanish Stagecraft helps kids build their on-stage vocabulary in stages and test their listening as well as reading comprehension.
Kids will learn vocabulary for household items, foods, animals, numbers, people, several verbs and adjectives, as well as prepositions such as "below." The Pro version has 12 levels for a total of 192 scenes. [Note: Kids can try the first four levels with the $1.99 version, but be aware that there's no parental gate to stop them from purchasing the remaining eight levels for another $3.99.]
Make a Sentence into a Scene, in Spanish
The curtains open to a blank stage. Waiting in the wings are two cartoon images: a boy and an apple. Across the top of the screen, kids see and read the prompt: "El nino come la manzana." At first, kids follow visual instructions to drag the boy on stage. A second sentence appears, describing the scene: "Hay un nino" (there is a boy). When kids drag the apple to the boy's mouth, the scene description changes to match the prompt, the boy takes a bite, a bell chimes, kids can move on to the next scene.
As kids progress through the 16 scenes per 12 levels, the prompts become more complex, with multiple steps, specific descriptors, and extraneous objects. After completing all the scenes on a level, kids unlock the timed reading and listening comprehension quizzes. The structure of the quizzes is the same as the play, but here kids can only make three mistakes, and in listening comprehension the words do not appear on the screen. Completing one of these quizzes allows kids to move on to the next level. However, kids can always go back to a level to try to beat their record time or win without making any mistakes.
Sets the Stage for Learning Spanish
We applaud Spanish Stagecraft for breaking the huge task of learning a language down into playful and manageable scenes that bring the words to life. Learning vocabulary through lifelike scenes draws on the context-based learning method popularized by The Rosetta Stone products. For example, many kids can rattle off numbers 1-10 in Spanish, but Spanish Stagecraft cleverly challenges them to apply that knowledge in context by creating a scene with multiple cats and books.
The simple animations and sound effects keep kids engaged as they learn. In addition to practicing Spanish, players will draw on logic and pattern recognition to match new objects to new vocabulary words, particularly when kids have to pick the correct item for the verb (which "thing" would you "peel"?). Spanish Stagecraft also strikes a great balance of letting kids learn by trial-and-error, with no penalties or timers in the free play section, but testing their comprehension before they can move on.
Some Room for Improvement
Of course, there is some room for improvement. Most noticeably, the audio pronunciation is not exceptionally clear — headphones are strongly recommended. In addition, some of the sequencing of new vocabulary feels more random than intentional, which doesn't take full advantage of the power of context-based learning. Some of this randomness includes a bit of violence, with characters fighting pirates, punching thieves, and smashing computers with hammers. Pirates notwithstanding, we're also surprised and disappointed to see so little racial diversity in the characters. Overall, though, Spanish Stagecraft is a great supplement to formal instruction.
Spanish Stagecraft is best for kids with a very basic exposure to Spanish or kids who are learning Spanish in school to help them practice listening, reading, and learning new vocabulary. Spanish Stagecraft can also reinforce and review language skills for more advanced speakers. While kids cannot skip over levels they know, which could be frustrating, increasing the playback speed will not only provide more challenge but also help them move quickly through easier levels.
This Spanish Stagecraft Pro app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.