Company: Educational Insights, 18730 S. Wilmington Ave., Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220. Phone: (888) 591-9334; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.educationalinsights.com/.
Price: $79.99—Smart Talk electronic unit. $39.99—Each card set (cards sold separately in sets of 150 cards).
Audience: Ages 4 and older
Format: Tabletop electronic device with vocabulary cards.
Minimum System Requirements: Three AA batteries and a flat-head screwdriver. The unit can be used with an electrical adapter, purchased separately.
Description: Smart Talk Español is an interactive electronic learning device used with vocabulary cards to develop vocabulary, oral language skills, and word recognition.
Overall Rating: *****
Ease of Use: A+
Product Support: A
Installation/Access: It took only a few minutes to set up the unit for student use. The directions are very easy to read. The vocabulary cards are numbered to make the organization of 150 cards by category both quick and maintainable. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: The Smart Talk Español program encourages listening, speaking, and reading basic Spanish vocabulary. Students work with a hand-held station and colorful vocabulary cards to learn 450 "must know" Spanish vocabulary words. Three card sets are available: Home & Family, School & Community, and Animals & People.
The Smart Talk program is designed to assist practice through repetition. Users can hear a word, see its visual image, hear the word used in context, and answer questions about a sentence using the word.
The vocabulary cards attract the attention of learners of all ages. The targeted vocabulary selections appear in both English and Spanish on the back of each card. The cards may be used with or without the electronic unit.
The Smart Talk unit’s Word button enables students to hear the Spanish word associated with the picture on the card. Students may press the Word button repeatedly as they practice saying the word aloud. The Learn button lets students hear the word used in context. The Quiz button provides questions about the target word.
Headphones purchased separately may be used to limit sound in classrooms or computer labs.
Teachers could easily use Smart Talk Español as a learning station or a center in the classroom.
Students will require a short lesson on how the station is to be used. A minilesson should cover handling the cards, pressing the same button to repeat the words, and waiting for the blinking light to move on to the next activity. The learning routine should be rehearsed with students before allowing them to work independently.
When I worked with the Smart Talk unit, the children just listened and didn’t practice saying the vocabulary words unless I practiced a three-step routine with them 1) press the button, 2) listen, and 3) repeat the word out loud or answer the question out loud).
I would recommend limiting the cards to vocabulary words that have been taught previously, using the Smart Talk unit for review and reinforcement. It would be particularly useful if the students were also reading books and practicing the same vocabulary in other classroom activities.
Smart Talk Español would also be useful for after school programs where an independent enrichment activity is needed. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: The system is very straightforward and easy to use. The unit’s blinking light guides learners through the activities and encourages repetition.
I used Smart Talk Español in a home learning setting with children who attend a bilingual Spanish immersion elementary school program. The children were 5, 7, 9, and 12 years old. All of the children—and adults—were easily able to use the station and completely enjoyed the experience.
The younger students were not as motivated as the older students to work on their own with the program. With help from an adult, the 5-year-old could play about 10 cards before needing a break.
For family use, the Smart Talk Español unit is easy to transport and could be used on a car trip or while waiting for appointments. Ease of Use Rating: A+
Product Support: Product support is provided through very clear directions in the package and a step-by-step product guide on the company’s website. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: I recommend Smart Talk Español for classroom teachers, as well as for parents.
This product is especially useful for parents who are supporting their children in acquiring a new language. With it, parents can easily practice the basic vocabulary needed for homework help for students beginning a study of Spanish. The English and Spanish vocabulary on the backs of the cards is invaluable for adults who don’t know Spanish.
Although this activity could not replace Spanish-language instruction, it certainly is a fun and useful way to review and practice vocabulary. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Rhonda Clevenson, Ph.D., teacher, Arlington, Va.