Review: VocabiCar English language learning app

Vocabicar: Playful learning in the digital age

Fun learning games go a long way towards combating the view of learning as a chore. The new English language-learning app VocabiCar from Westermann and Quantumfrog is no different. Its features include three intricately designed theme worlds and customizable scooters and vans to choose from to explore them. As an experienced English Language Teaching Assistant, I tested VocabiCar for At work and found it to wholly live up to its promise of playful and successful learning.

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As already mentioned, the VocabiCar app revolves around the principle of learning by having fun, both actively and passively. VocabiCar is chiefly aimed at young language learners and covers all key vocabulary areas children are likely to encounter in their English lessons in Years 3-6. Colours, numbers, clothes, body words, food, animals, and even prepositions make an appearance.

Children navigate around theme worlds, such as kitchens or farms, by driving bright blue scooters or colourful camper vans. The aim of the game is to collect as many letters, words or objects as possible before time runs out. This race against the clock is combined with the scoreboard to motivate children to improve their personal highscore. They can do this by replaying the game and therefore collecting more points. As a result, they also simultaneously memorize key early years English vocabulary.

VocabiCar – a race against time that makes learning vocabulary fun

Test modes and theme worlds

Beyond these basics, VocabiCar is also very adaptable in that it offers several levels of difficulty. The choice of test modes, such as gap-fill, audio-only and text, allows players to adapt the settings according to their individual ability and preference. Likewise, this also reduces the probability of children becoming bored with the game all too soon. Absolute beginners may like to start off collecting pictures and written words as they navigate their way around a theme world. On the other hand, more advanced learners could build on their already existing knowledge by choosing the more challenging gap-fill or audio-only modes. Meanwhile, all instructions and words in the game are read out loud. This allows players to improve their listening as well as reading skills. It’s also worth noting that the menu can be toggled between German and English, which lowers the risk of over-complication.

As a teacher of young children, in conclusion I can definitely appreciate how VocabiCar will appeal to young children. Its intuitive and entertaining computer game format is key to this. Above all, VocabiCar provides a fun first experience of independent learning. For parents, VocabiCar’s advantages are clear. It’s free to download (for Android and iOS), and can be played on the go without internet connection. It also contains all the elements of an appealing computer game. At the same time, it introduces children to key English vocabulary for their age group. Suitable for all school types in all federal states, VocabiCar could also be an engaging tool for teachers. Particularly, it would be useful as a summing-up exercise at the end of a lesson focused on a particular word group.

VocabiCar has already been awarded the Comenius-EduMedia-Siegelnominated for the Deutschen Entwicklerpreis 2017 and recently won the Deutschen Computerspielpreis 2018 in the ‘Bestes Serious Game’ category.

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